Another reason to love Costco: better prices for generic prescription drugs

Published: Thursday, June 13 2013 9:30 a.m. MDT

Costco has gained a reputation for cheaper generic prescription drugs, according an article by David Lazarus in the Los Angeles Times.


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As it turns out, generic prescription drugs aren’t uniformly priced.

Los Angeles Times reporter David Lazarus reported in his recent article "Disparity in generic drug prices is a bitter pill to swallow" that price discrepancies among generic prescription drugs can vary by hundreds of dollars. For example, he found that Plavix, an anti-clotting drug, was available at Walgreen for a hefty $512.97. The same drug online could be found for $21.52 — a $491.54 difference.

Even without the predictably different prices of the Internet, Lazarus points out that prices fluctuate widely between competing drugstores.

For example, the generic version of Zestril, a hypertension drug, costs $10 at Target, $28.99 at Safeway, $31.99 at Walgreen, $38.99 at CVS and just $9.99 at Costco.

The only store that displayed consistency, according to Lazarus’ research of multiple prescription drugs, was Costo’s penchant toward affordability.

“Costco's drug prices consistently came in well below those of other leading pharmacies,” he wrote on Tuesday. “You don't even have to be a Costco member to use the company's drugstore.”

In fact, Costco’s low pharmaceutical prices show the discrepancy between competing pharmacy prices is unnecessary.

“We always get a profit,” senior vice president of Costco's pharmacy operations Vic Curtis told Lazarus. “We never lose money on the operation of a pharmacy or on any given prescription."

“What I'm hearing from these big chains is that drug prices are complicated, so don't go thinking that it's just about who can offer a generic drug for less,” Lazarus wrote at the conclusion of his article. “What I'm hearing from Costco is that drug prices are relatively simple and that it's all about who can offer a generic drug for less.”

He finished by urging readers to "choose which viewpoint they agree with," and decide if driving the extra distance is worth the better price.

Read more about prescription drugs on Los Angeles Times .

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