Pharma Shopping – How to Compare Prices and Save With Coupons and Discounts

Whether you have prescription drug insurance or not, it pays to shop around. There are online tools to help you compare prices and save with coupons and discounts.

Local pharmacies can also offer lower prices for your medications. These savings are due to reduced rent, bribes, store maintenance, and other operational costs.


Costco’s pharmacy department offers prescription medications, trusted over-the-counter remedies and durable medical equipment at competitive prices. It is open to non-members where permitted by law, and many locations offer a separate entrance for those without a membership card.

Using the company’s purchasing power, Costco’s CMPP negotiates discounts with manufacturers and passes these savings directly on to members. In a recent Consumer Reports test, five common generic drugs sold for $752 at Walgreens and CVS but were available to Costco members for $105.

To use CMPP pricing at pharmacies in the company’s network, simply present your membership card along with your prescription. It is easy and no extra fees apply. The program also offers discounts for pet medications. Currently, pharmacy revenues are less than 2% of Costco’s overall revenue.

Supermarket Pharmacies

Supermarkets that operate pharmacies can offer customers more health-and-wellness oriented services, including vitamin selection and education. These services increase customer satisfaction with grocers and boost the bottom line for supermarket chains involved in pharmacy operations.

While some critics argue that supermarket pharmacies are a threat to independent drugstores, the reality is quite the opposite. Several supermarkets have built strong presences in pharmacy retailing, with Kroger, Albertsons, and Publix leading the pack. These grocers have embraced a holistic approach to healthcare, positioning themselves as health destinations by offering a wide range of services from COVID-19 immunizations to nutritionist consultations. Moreover, these grocery stores have been quick to leverage their pharmacies to expand into the lucrative mail-order pharmacy business.

Online Pharmacies

Online pharmacies allow consumers to shop for prescription drugs without visiting a traditional brick-and-mortar pharmacy. These sites provide accessibility for patients who might otherwise be unable to access medication due to distance or work schedules. However, the quality of these drugs is not necessarily guaranteed, and prices are often much higher than those charged by a traditional pharmacy.

Several studies have evaluated the marketing strategies used by online pharmacies. Levaggi et al [79] found that persuasive statements were more frequently used by online pharmacies that do not require a prescription, including privacy issues, service quality (e.g., short delivery times and discreet packaging), and price offers (e.g., fidelity bonuses, free shipping, and discounts). In some cases, online pharmacies may even encourage bulk purchases to boost sales.

Coupons & Discounts

Prescription coupon programs, such as SingleCare, are an excellent resource for patients who lack insurance coverage. They offer discounts on both brand and generic medications. They also allow you to compare prices from different pharmacies. However, it is important to look for a program that doesn’t require you to provide personal information.

A recent survey of community pharmacists revealed that they had positive perceptions about pharmaceutical company direct-to-consumer prescription coupons and network drug discount cards. However, these drug discount programs also create a number of issues for pharmacists.

Jesse Dresser, an attorney with Pine Brook, New Jersey-based law firm Frier Levitt, explains that by accepting drug discount cards, pharmacies lose revenue. For instance, if a drug costs $20 cash and the pharmacy accepts a discount card that reduces the price to $10, the pharmacy will only collect $5.


A generic drug is an FDA-approved medicine with the same active ingredients as a brand name medication. Generics are expected to have the same quality and efficacy, and they can be manufactured by any pharmaceutical company.

Health care costs are on the rise, and many patients are abandoning their doctor-prescribed medications because of high copays. Generics are a cost-effective alternative and can increase patient compliance with doctors’ orders.

Pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) have detailed information on actual average generic ingredient costs, net of any price concessions. However, PBMs also operate mail-order pharmacies and receive rebates from generic drug manufacturers, creating an information asymmetry and a conflict of interest. Lowering pharmacy reimbursement for generics would impact both brick-and-mortar and mail-order pharmacies, lowering overall PBM profitability.

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