If the high cost of arthritis drugs is becoming a pain, try these tips to save money.
• Newer isn’t always better. For osteoarthritis pain, many experts recommend using over-the-counter acetaminophen before trying pricier prescription drugs. It costs about $12 for 500 generic pills.
• Buy in bulk. Find out if your health plan covers drugs ordered in bulk through mail-order pharmacies. These suppliers often charge one or two co-pays for a three-month drug supply.
• Try cheaper formulas. Liquid methotrexate for RA costs vastly less than methotrexate pills. You’ll pay around $500 for four months’ supply of pills, while the same supply of liquid is around $25. Ask your doctor if this is an option for you.
• Comparison shop. Call various pharmacies to compare their prices on your medications. Many pharmacy chains now charge $4 for a month’s supply of generic nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, for example. In addition, prescription versions of certain drugs, such as ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) or omeprazole (Prilosec), may cost you less than the over-the-counter form, says Donald Miller, PharmD, chairman of the department of pharmacy practice at North Dakota State University in Fargo. That’s because some health plans offer low copays for prescription drugs but don’t cover over-the-counter drugs at all. “This will vary by drug and by insurance company,” Miller says, “but it’s definitely worth asking your pharmacist about!”
• Change your lifestyle. Losing weight and getting more exercise may manage arthritis pain. “People who take care of themselves have better outcomes with their condition, develop fewer health problems, and spend less money on medical services,” says Daniel Clauw, MD, a rheumatologist and professor of medicine at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.