JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — An Action New Jax investigation has revealed the secrets of many brand new drugs. Some drugs are a combination of two or three established drugs that are often available in generic form. And in many of these cases, you can replace the prescription or over-the-counter medication with a cheaper version of the same medication.
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Prices for more than 1,200 prescriptions have risen an average of 31.6% over the past year with an average price increase of $250 each, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
So to save money, Action News Jax spoke to a local pharmacist who said there’s an easy and safe way to save on many brand name drugs. Certified Pharmacist Kevin Duane is a board member of the Florida Pharmacy Association and owns and operates Jacksonville’s oldest pharmacy.
He said drugs often don’t have to cost that much, but that’s a tactic big pharma uses to make money. “Because of any discounts or incentives your insurance company may get,” he said, “the brand name drug ends up being the one given to you instead of a generic drug.”
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But often, Duane said big name brands are just two generics put together and repackaged as a way for big pharma to extend patents and keep costs high. He said: “It’s perfectly fine to split it into two no-name brand name drugs and save a lot of money doing it.”
Duane said that instead of the diabetes drug Avandamet, you can take a combination of Avandia and metformin for a savings of over $350 a month.
The Contrave diet pill costs hundreds of dollars a month. But if you take its two ingredients separately, bupropion and naltrexone, it will cost you less than thirty dollars.
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For high blood pressure, instead of expensive Benicar HCT, you can use a combination of olmesartan and hydrochlorothiazide. The substitution would save you hundreds per month.
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All it takes is a simple conversation with your pharmacist who will then get your doctor’s approval. In many cases, Duane said generics are made by the same brand manufacturer. This also works for over-the-counter medications. The prescription drug Duexis costs $30 a pill. But Duane said: ‘It’s actually a combination of ibuprofen and famotidine – Pepcid, that’s the over-the-counter medicine for heartburn. “He said, ‘I’ve seen some where it’s saved people hundreds of dollars a month to do this. Duane said the practice of bundling two or three generics into one more expensive branded pill happens most often with drugs that treat common problems. So, people with diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol should consult their doctor or pharmacist to break down their prescription and save money.
- The following substitutes are possible to save money, but you should discuss them with your doctor first: Actoplus Met – take a combination of Actos and metformin instead
- Avandamet – take a combination of Avandia and metformin instead
- Avandaryl – take a combination of Avandia and Glimepiride instead
- Duetact – instead take a combination of Actos and Glimepiride
- Glucovance – take a combination of glyburide and metformin instead
- Janumet – instead take a combination of Januvia and metformin
- Metaglip – instead take a combination of Glipizide and Metformin
- PrandiMet – take a combination of Prandin and Metformin instead
- Lotrel – take a combination of amlodipine and benazepril instead
- Exforge – instead take a combination of amlodipine and valsartan
- Twynsta – instead take a combination of amlodipine and telmisartan
- Avalide – take a combination of Irbesartan and HCTZ instead
- Diovan HCT – instead take a combination of Valsartan and HCTZ
- Hyzaar – take a combination of Losartan and HCTZ instead
- Benicar HCT – take a combination of olmesartan and hydrochlorothiazide instead
- Contrave – take a combination of bupropion and naltrexone instead
- Treximet – instead take a combination of naproxen and sumatriptan