7OYS: Safe ways to cut down drug costs

LOS ANGELES When ABC7 teamed up with /*Consumer Reports*/, we found out that your prescription as written by your doctor is very important and in most cases needs to stay intact. Any changes could be dangerous to your health.

Sticker shock is taking a toll at the pharmacy counter. A Consumer Reports health poll of more than 2,000 Americans reveals 66 percent didn't know the cost of a prescription before picking it up at the pharmacy.

"Just 4 percent said they had found out about the cost of their prescription at their doctor's office," said Dr. John Santa, Consumer Reports Health.

Dr. Santa, director of the Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center, says almost 30 percent of people said they're taking potentially dangerous measures to cut drug costs.

"Some people told us they're splitting pills on their own, or skipping doses, or sharing prescriptions with someone else, or even worse, not filling a prescription at all," said Dr. Santa.

There are far safer ways to save on prescription medication. Generics are certainly one way. The ConsumerReportsHealth.org site can help you find good alternatives to brand-name drugs.

"For example, if your doctor switched you from cholesterol-lowering /*Lipitor*/ to a generic of another statin, /*Lovastatin*/, you could save nearly a thousand dollars a year," said Dr. Santa.

Of those polled, 47 percent said they had some reservations or misconceptions regarding generics, which are as safe and effective as brand-name drugs. So to avoid any surprises at the pharmacy counter, check with your doctor about a drug cost and whether you can take a cheaper, equally effective alternative.

Consumer Reports Health also says be skeptical of drugs you see advertised on television. They're likely to be expensive and not necessarily your best choice.

Consumer Reports: Best drugs for less



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