APhA Responds to U.S. News' Suggestion for Rx Price Shopping

JANUARY 01, 2005
Ken Rankin

A recent article in the U.S. News & World Report urging consumers to price-shop for prescription drugs may encourage many Americans to use multiple pharmacies to fill prescriptions—a risky practice at best, the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) warned.

The article, "Shopping Around: Prices at nearby drugstores vary by huge amounts," appeared in the national magazine's September 20, 2004 Special Report issue, "How to Save Money on Meds - A Guide to Finding the Best Deals."

In response to the article's suggestion that consumers "shop around" for the pharmacy offering the best price on their prescriptions, APhA Executive Vice President John Gans said that "medications are not inert products like toasters or cars," and that "the risks of problems with medications is much, much higher than the risks from burnt toast."

Shopping around for prescriptions at multiple pharmacies undercuts the pharmacist's ability to monitor medication use, Gans warned. "Keeping their pharmacist informed of their complete medication profile is the only way pharmacists can identify potential contraindications and other medical errors," he said.

"At a minimum, your article should have told consumers of their responsibility to tell each pharmacist involved in their care that they are obtaining medications from more than one pharmacy and what those medications are," Gans told the magazine.