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The simple strategy I used to reduce my high prescription drug costs by 75% without compromising my health

May 27, 2020 (Updated: May 28, 2020)
Lily Moran

The article below was written by guest contributor Pamela Maclean, RN, and medically reviewed by Taylor Froiland, PharmD, RPh. Learn more about Taylor and our other experts here.

I am 87 years old and recently entered an assisted living facility in Coral Gables, Florida. As a former Registered Nurse, I am proactive about my health and understand that I need to be on certain medications.

But if you’re like me, you probably don’t want to pay a lot for medications.

I recently found out I could save about $150 a month—a 75% savings from what I was paying. Now I want everyone to see what they can save too!

I’m not talking about a discount program or a special set of coupons. I’m talking about having a licensed pharmacist review your existing medications, and then work with you and your doctor to see if there are less expensive options that will be just as effective for managing your health.

And, because you’re a loyal Newport Natural Health reader, you can have access to this medication review completely free of charge. But perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself.

First let me explain how I learned about this kind of medication review…and how it’s changed my life (and my bank account) for the better.

As a former female entrepreneur, (I retired 3 months ago from a successful business that I started when I was in my 60s) I have always been proactive about my finances, particularly my expenses.

I now have a fixed amount of money coming in every month. If my expenses exceed that amount, I must dip into my savings account which I am willing to do, but I need to be cautious about spending money and preserving my nest egg for the long term.

To preserve my nest egg, I decided to take a hard look at where I can manage my costs without compromising my care. The cost of my food, lodging, activities, and medical needs (doctors and nurses) are pretty much fixed every month.

I am also prescribed 5 different medications that I take every day.

Originally, I thought that the cost of those medications was fixed too.  I tried prescription discount programs, like GoodRx, but they really didn’t save me any money. Then I went back to my nursing training and remembered that large pharmaceutical companies often reformulate old drugs (sometimes all they do is change the color!) that are now generic, submit them to the Food and Drug Administration and jack up the prices.

Pharmaceutical price increases are always in the news. So, I decided to do some research to find a little-known way for me, or an expert available, to beat these big pharma companies at their own game.

In my research1, I discovered something called a Comprehensive Medication Review (CMR) and Medication Therapy Management (MTM).

When I was a nurse, before most of the drug stores were consolidated into big chains, licensed pharmacists were much more directly involved in patient care. 

In those days, doctors and nurses would diagnose a health issue and then seek the advice of a pharmacist on the latest, most cost-effective and efficacious medication to prescribe. Pharmacists would spend much of their time visiting doctors in their offices and discussing medicines, the latest medical research and new drugs coming to market.

Local pharmacists would typically see and talk to patients more often than their doctors, as the patients would have to come into the pharmacy every month to get their prescription medications refilled. This regular contact with patients allowed the pharmacist to help patients with their health and discuss potential side effects.

Researching CMRs and MTMs I learned that they are the modern equivalent of the doctor and pharmacist working together for the best therapeutic outcome of the patient. Together they review the patient’s medications and ask:

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  • Are these the best possible medications?
  • Are there any medication-related problems?
  • Are any of the medications unnecessary?
  • Are there drug or base allergies or sensitivities that should be addressed?
  • Are there dosages/strengths, formulations, or better-suited custom alternatives?
  • Are there generic alternatives?
  • Today there are often several medications that will do the same job—which is the best and most cost effective?

In coordination with my doctor, nurses, and family, I reached out to my local, independent pharmacist and asked him to perform a CMR. He was willing to do the CMR free of charge, but I realized that a CMR is not just about saving money but also important for my health.

During the CMR, my pharmacist collected my patient-specific information, assessed medication therapies to identify medication-related problems, and developed a prioritized list of medication-related problems. He then worked with me, my nurses, and my doctor to create a plan to resolve them. 

My pharmacist discovered that I had been prescribed Timolol eye drops for my glaucoma. The formula I was prescribed is owned by a drug company called Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, who is notorious for their outrageous prescription drug prices.

Valeant had reformulated my generic eye drops without changing the active drug ingredient into a once daily “gel forming solution” and then hiked up the price. 

The cost of the gel was $475 for a 75-day supply. Totally fine if you have an unlimited budget. But the regular drops are $8.47 for the same 15ml (75-day) supply. The ONLY difference is that one is a liquid, the other a gel.

It’s similar to how some dishwashing detergents are liquids and others are gels—they both clean the dishes!

My doctor recognized that the gel was more window dressing than something I needed to treat my eyes.

He worked with my pharmacist to change the prescription to the cheaper liquid form.

Here are the results of my CMR:

BEFORE: 5 drugs for a total monthly spend of: $202.80

AFTER: 4 drugs for a total monthly spend of:  $53.00

I’m saving almost $150 a month now…that’s a 75% difference!

Here I am enjoying a drink, paid for with some of the money I saved by doing a CMR and being smart with my medication expenditures.

Now it’s your turn

Because you’re a loyal Newport Natural Health reader, I want you to have access to the same kind of savings I was able to find.

So, through a very special arrangement with my friendly, knowledgeable team of licensed pharmacists, you can get a FREE CMR, for you or an immediate member of your family, to determine if you’re getting the best possible health benefits at the best possible value.

All you have to do is call 800-634-0905 or send an email to [email protected], and we will schedule your personalized CMR. It couldn’t be easier. And this FREE assessment just might save you hundreds. So, do your health AND your wallet a favor and schedule your FREE CMR today.

Reference

  1. Hardin H; Ferrer J; Mobley L. Chapter 7: Conducting the Comprehensive Medication Review. In Angaran DM and Whalen K. Medication Therapy Management: A Comprehensive Approach. McGraw-Hill Education. 2015 https://accesspharmacy.mhmedical.com/content.aspx?bookid=1079&sectionid=61423929

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