HOUSTON - Carl Sharon of Brookshire is a pilot, a flight instructor and he spends his days taking airplanes apart, but even with all he can do, Carl can't figure out for the life of him how drug stores set their prices for prescription drugs.
"One pharmacy will sell a drug for $200 and the very same drug will be sold at another pharmacy across the street for $20. It makes no sense," Sharon said.
But Sharon said what really made him angry was when he went to pick up his wife's stroke medicine one night, a drug he'd been paying $22 for, had suddenly skyrocketed to more than $180.
"I was dumbfounded that they could increase it that much," Sharon said. "That kind of jump was pretty significant and pretty devastating to us."
To find out just how wildly prescription drug prices can vary in the Houston area, Channel 2 Investigates decided to compare prices for five very popular drugs at five different pharmacies.
First up was the generic version of Actos, used to treat diabetes:
- Walgreen's: $293
- CVS: $235
- Walmart: $131
- Target: $73.50
- Costco: $18
Next, the generic version of Lexapro, an anti-depression drug:
- Walgreen's: $124
- CVS: $115
- Walmart: $115
- Target: $91
- Costco: $10
Next, KPRC 2 New found the generic version of Lipitor, used to treat cholesterol:
- CVS: $146
- Walgreen's: $142
- Walmart: $30
- Target: $64.50
- Costco: $18
The generic version of Valsartan, used to treat high blood pressure:
Finally, the generic version of Singulair, used to treat asthma:
Pharmacists often recommend customers call around to local pharmacies to compare prices, but there is a new, far easier way to price shop for the lowest cost prescriptions. It's called Good Rx, a website that works like many travel websites.
Customers can go to Good Rx, punch in the drug to be purchased and a list of drug stores carrying that drug in the customer's area appear, ranked in order from the cheapest to the most expensive.
"We can literally save families tens of thousands of dollars a year on their prescription drugs," said Good Rx co-founder Doug Hirsch.
Some of the drugs on Good Rx are even offered free of charge.
While doing this story, KPRC 2 News found the drug Actos going for $0 -- yes, for free --at Sam's Club when we searched Good Rx.
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