Costco and Cheap Meds

Here is an interesting article that may blow your mind.   This MSN piece discussed what happened when Consumer Reports looked at “200 pharmacies across the country for a month’s supply of five prescription drugs that just went generic: Actos for diabetes, Lexapro for depression, Singulair for asthma, Plavix for blood thinning, and Lipitor for high cholesterol”:

  • What they found was a $749 difference — that’s 447% — between the $916 price tag at CVS and the $167 that Costco charged for the same five drugs.
  • For generic Lipitor alone CVS charged $150 to Costco’s $17. The generic Lexapro found at CVS for $126 could be had at Costco for $7.
  • Why such a big difference? Because CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreen draw most of their profits from the pharmacy, while Costco, Sam’s Club and other discount stores consider their pharmacies throw-ins that help bulk up foot traffic.
  • CVS, in particular, also factors in the cost of drive-through windows, automated prescription refill systems, prescription consultation and 24-hour pharmacies that Costco’s Monday-Saturday service lacks.

You could get mad but this is why capitalism is good.  Information like this allows you to switch your loyalty and buy your prescriptions for less.  That eventually brings the price down at Right Aid, CVS, etc.    Josh, over at Atlas MD, turned me on to this site which compares prices.  It is called  I have used it for patients and it really works. This is how we can really help people if they are willing to put in the effort.


Douglas Farrago MD

Douglas Farrago MD is a full-time practicing family doc in Forest, Va. He started Forest Direct Primary Care where he takes no insurance and bills patients a monthly fee. He is board certified in the specialty of Family Practice. He is the inventor of a product called the Knee Saver which is currently in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Knee Saver and its knock-offs are worn by many major league baseball catchers. He is also the inventor of the CryoHelmet used by athletes for head injuries as well as migraine sufferers. Dr. Farrago is the author of four books, two of which are the top two most popular DPC books. From 2001 – 2011, Dr. Farrago was the editor and creator of the Placebo Journal which ran for 10 full years. Described as the Mad Magazine for doctors, he and the Placebo Journal were featured in the Washington Post, US News and World Report, the AP, and the NY Times. Dr. Farrago is also the editor of the blog Authentic Medicine which was born out of concern about where the direction of healthcare is heading and the belief that the wrong people are in charge. This blog has been going daily for more than 15 years Article about Dr. Farrago in Doximity Email Dr. Farrago – [email protected] 

  6 comments for “Costco and Cheap Meds

  1. Dave Mittman
    April 10, 2013 at 2:44 pm

    Fantastic. I use CVS though. I have to tell you my pharmacist there has never counseled me on a medicine, I sign a statement that I don’t want to be counseled I think. It’s funny, I am a PA and he has never asked what I do. Going there 16 years. Guess that’s life.

    When I started practicing (1975) medication prices were not extravagant (no one had insurance) but were used to, in part, finance research on new medications. Tagamet stopped stomach surgery. Hypertension medications side effects went down 95%. Strokes and MIs really decreased. Infections were banished from day to day life by better and better meds. Even anti-virals of all kinds were financed by big pharma. I love the price of generics and do not feel meds should break anyone’s finances. Who is going to finance the breakthrough drugs of the future? Government won’t.

  2. April 10, 2013 at 10:41 am

    Your link to is bad, sends you to a 404 error for, which is a nonexistent page. Should send you to

    • Doug Farrago
      April 10, 2013 at 10:51 am

      fixed it. ty

  3. Howard Feder
    April 10, 2013 at 8:58 am

    We’re these prices checked before or after the 6 month exclusivity that the law gives to the patent breaker? For the first 6 months the generic price is usually about 3/4 of the price that the brand has risen to.

  4. Douglas Krell MD
    April 9, 2013 at 7:23 pm

    This shows you how significantly things would change if all government and insurance companies were eliminated from controlling health care costs. A free market in health care? Wow what a concept!

  5. joel
    April 9, 2013 at 8:37 am

    ever compare hospital costs for simple things like chest xrays. very interesting

Comments are closed.