Buying Online Is Not the Best Route to Prescription Savings

  • Prescription medications are expensive, especially the newer classes of allergy and asthma medicines. If you have health insurance with a pharmacy benefit, great!


    But, if you're like me, and you don't have health insurance, then the cost of buying prescription medicines on your own can make you think twice about filling the prescription at all.


    However, leaving your allergies and/or asthma untreated can be dangerous to your health. So, it's important to find a way to fill those prescriptions and keep refilling them too. Let's look at some options:


    Filling Prescriptions Online


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    You've likely seen tons of ads online for filling prescriptions for various medicines, or even buying prescription medicines without a valid prescription. If you do this, it can be a dangerous practice. Here's why:


    Some online medication vendors aren't ethical. You could end up with the wrong medicine, one of poor quality, or even a contaminated one. To see if an online pharmacy is a licensed pharmacy in good standing, contact the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (, 847-391-4406).


    You should never take a medicine without seeing a doctor first. Just filling out an online questionnaire is not enough. A doctor needs to examine you and talk to you in person to make sure the medicine is right for you and safe to use.


    Another thing to look for when ordering online is the availability of a pharmacist to answer your questions and concerns. And steer clear of sites offering a miracle "cure" for allergies. At this time, nothing like that exists. You'll also want to avoid foreign pharmacies as it is illegal to import prescription medicine into the US.


    What You Need to Know About Your Prescriptions


    When your doctor writes for a new allergy medication prescription for you or your child, you need to find out all you can about the medicine and what it is supposed to do. Here are some sample questions you can ask your doctor, your doctor's nurse, and/or the pharmacist who fills the prescription:

      1. What should this medication do for me?
      2. Are there specific directions for how I should take the medication, such as in the morning, evening or with food?
      3. How soon should I start to feel better?
      4. How long should I keep taking the medication?
      5. What side effects should I look for and what should I do about them?
      6. Is there anything I should avoid while taking the medication (certain food, alcohol, sunlight)?
      7. What I forget to take a dose?

    Prescription Assistance Programs


    If you don't have health insurance that pays for prescriptions, you may qualify for one of the prescription assistance programs available from pharmaceutical companies.


    According to the Mothers of Asthmatics Allergy & Asthma Network, the pharmaceutical industry gave away nearly $1.5 billion worth of prescription medicines to 3.5 million patients in 2001 through assistance programs.


    You can start at the Partnership for Prescription Assistance Program. Their website will tell you which medications might be available and how to apply for help. You can ask your doctor to help you complete the paperwork.


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    Here are some other tips to save money on your allergy prescriptions:

    • Avoid buying over-the-counter medicines. It's easy to waste money on things that just don't work that well. So far, there are no known herbs or supplements, either, that are sure to be effective in treating allergies.
    • It's ultimately more cost effective to keep your allergies under control by practicing prevention via trigger avoidance and regular medication, rather than trying to control symptoms once they have begun.
    • Consider consulting with an allergist. Even though it might seem expensive to see a specialist, the cost will probably be offset in the long run by getting better care. After all, allergists are the experts in treating allergies.

    Hopefully, you've found the tips in this post to be helpful. Feel free to have frank, open discussions with your doctor, too, if you have concerns about paying for your allergy medication. He or she may have free samples or know of other programs that could be helpful.

    Source: Adapted from Mothers of Asthmatics website

Published On: June 11, 2007