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Saving money on medicine

September 13, 2012 2:56:22 PM PDT
Many Americans grappling with the high cost of medicine may be putting themselves in harm's way, according to the Consumer Reports National Research Center.

The magazine's just-released survey shows patients are not filling prescriptions, are taking expired drugs, and are skipping doses.

Nearly half of all adult Americans take prescription medication regularly, but for common ailments like allergies, acid reflux or aches and pains, the best remedy might already be in your medicine cabinet.

"Our analysis shows that many over-the-counter medications work just as well or better than prescription drugs for a whole host of ailments," Dr. John Santa of Consumer Reports said.

For heartburn, purple Nexium and colorful Prevacid are popular prescriptions.

But nonprescription Tums or generic antacids cost a lot less and can relieve occasional heartburn.

Consumer Reports says for more serious heartburn, there are over-the-counter options, too.

"Even if you've been diagnosed with acid reflux or GERD, research shows that over-the-counter Prilosec or Prevacid work just as effectively as pricier prescription drugs," Santa said.

Even better, generic omeprazole, which can save you as much as 192 dollars a month.

For allergy sufferers, over-the-counter antihistamine pills like Claritin, Alavert, Zyrtec and their generics are just as effective as the prescription drugs Astepro, Clarinex, and Xyzal. You could save up to 148 dollars a month.

And for joint pain, prescription Celebrex provides relief. But over-the-counter drugs like Advil, Tylenol, Aleve and their generics may work just as well and could save as much as 265 dollars a month.

Whether you're taking an over-the-counter drug or a prescription, talk to your doctor if symptoms continue more than ten days.

Consumer Reports also sent its team of secret shoppers to find the best prices on 43 popular over-the-counter remedies. The result: Walmart had the lowest prices on most drugs, with Target a close second.

For more information, visit Consumer Reports online at: www.consumerreports.org/cro/sluggish_economy_affects_medication_decisions.htm

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