PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Inflation is impacting prescription drug costs, and it can be a matter of life and death for some people.
Browse the shelves of your local pharmacy and you’ll see that over-the-counter drugs are no strangers to sticker shock. Prices for items like cold and allergy medications have risen over the past two months.
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“Some of the test strips we sell have gone from $7 a box to $10 a box,” said Kyle McCormick, owner of Blueberry Pharmacy.
It is a little more difficult to determine whether patients will have to pour more money into prescription drugs. McCormick said the recent surge in inflation has so far had no impact, but pharmacies are closely watching the current COVID spike happening overseas in places like China, which has become a major manufacturer in the pharmaceutical sector.
Any closure there could lead to supply chain issues and cost increases here.
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“As of April 2020, I was paying $205 through 2020,” McCormick said. “Then January 2021 comes along, and I was paying $218. And then in January of this year, 2022, the price went up to $229.
“Often these payment structures don’t change much,” said Lucas Berenbrok, associate professor at the Pitt School of Pharmacy. “If they do, it’s a dollar or two. But it affects people who take a lot of medication, because if they pay an extra dollar a month, it could be an extra $25 a month that they don’t have.
Berenbrok said that for some, dealing with rising prescription costs can sometimes mean making tough choices. He said there are resources to help ease the burden.
“Sometimes insurance allows for a cheaper 90-day supply rather than a 30-day supply,” Berenbrok said. “It’s a way for patients to save on their co-payments. Often, this quota can be eliminated with two quotas instead of three.
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Berenbrok also suggested asking your pharmacist for information about prescription savings cards or assistance programs. And, of course, you can also choose generic drugs, the price of which has been falling year by year.