Save Money on Prescription Medicines

cup of assorted pills and capsules spilled out on surface

Those of us who are prescribed medicine to take at home typically take only about half the doses we’re supposed to, according to a systematic review published in The Cochrane Library. The review also found that many people stop taking their medicine altogether, without their doctor’s OK.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (CDC), many people stop taking their medicine, or take less than prescribed, to save money. Some people skip doses or delay filling a prescription. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends these strategies to cut down on prescription medicine costs:

  • Tell your doctor if you have a problem paying for prescription drugs. Ask whether there are generic or over-the-counter options that would work just as well, or another brand of the drug that may cost less.
  • Find out whether Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage can benefit you and your family members.
  • Check to see whether you are eligible for drug assistance programs in your state.
  • Check with the pharmaceutical companies that manufacture your medicines to find out whether you qualify for assistance programs.
  • Shop around your neighborhood or legitimate online pharmacies for the best prices on prescription drugs. The FDA recommends purchasing only from state-licensed pharmacies that are located in the United States. Also make sure the pharmacy knows about everything you’re taking – including over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, and supplements.

If you are taking more than one prescription or over-the-counter drug, vitamin, or supplement, or caring for someone who is, managing them can be complicated. Here are some tips to make the job easier:

  • Keep a chart of your daily medication schedule and follow it exactly.
  • Take the exact dosage prescribed. Use a weekly or daily pill organizer to avoid mix-ups.
  • Store medications in their original containers.
  • Don’t take medication in the dark, or when you’re tired or distracted.
  • Don’t drink alcohol with your medications unless your doctor has told you it’s safe.
  • Lock up medications to keep them from children.
  • Never take medications prescribed for someone else.
  • Dispose of medications that your doctor has told you to stop taking, or that have expired.
  • If no disposal instructions came with the medication, crush and mix it with coffee grounds, cat litter, or food scraps. Seal it in a bag or container, and throw it away with the trash.
  • If you experience unexpected side effects from your medication, talk to your doctor. Don’t simply stop taking it.

Download our printable medicine chart to help you keep track of all your medicines.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and master's-prepared nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

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