Consumer Reports: New RX drug savings

FRESNO, Calif.

The first thing you can consider is taking an over-the-counter medication for common ailments, as opposed to taking a prescription drug. But of course, you'd want to do that with the advice of your doctor.

For seasonal allergies, Claritin is a good and much cheaper substitute for prescription Xyzal.

For heartburn, over-the-counter Prilosec or store brands containing omeprazole are about as good as prescription Nexium at a fraction of the cost.

And for occasional insomnia, look for generic diphenhydramine, the ingredient found in Sominex and Benadryl Allergy, rather than prescription Lunesta.

Another way you might be able to save—paying for your prescription yourself rather than going through your insurance plan. Paying out of pocket can be cheaper if you use discount programs at stores such as Sam's Club, Walmart, or Target. For example, paying outright for Pravastatin, which lowers cholesterol, could well cost less than your insurance co-pay.

Other ways to save? If your insurance company has a preferred pharmacy, you definitely want to shop there because you could see some pretty big deals. If they have a mail-order program, you may want to check that out, too, because you could see some savings there as well.

And when shopping for over-the-counter medicine, Consumer Reports says look for store brands. They're often right next to name brands and can cost a lot less. But don't take drugstore displays that say "clearance" or "sale" at face value. Those offers can entice you to buy a name brand that's on sale but is still more expensive than the store-brand equivalent.

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