The Changing of the Guard: $4 Generic Presciptions at Wal-Mart and Target

Since I was three days old, I’ve taken Synthroid as a hormone replacement for hypothyroidism. I was very lucky – when I was born, hypothyroidisim was not a condition regularly tested for at my hospital and it was only diagnosed due to a very attentive pediatrician who had a hunch as to why I wasn’t thriving initially.

When I was growing up, the monthly cost of the prescription was a significant drain on my parents’ finances. They took it on as just another cost of having a child, but every month, year in and year out, it siphoned from the small amount of money that they had to work with.

When I was in college, I had a hard time keeping up with the cost of the prescription. It wasn’t incredibly expensive, but I was a broke student who didn’t know how to manage his money well and quite often I would be forced to scrounge for pocket money to pay for a prescription refill. Several times, I was saved by a kind doctor at my university’s student health services who would slip me a seven day sample pack or two to help me get through until I could afford a refill.

In my adult life, the $20 month in and month out cost for the prescription was just another bill on the pile, and along with my general lack of money management, it contributed to the continual money problems I faced before my financial meltdown.

Even in my life where I had access to plenty of money, the cost of Synthroid was a constant small drain on my finances. In the life of someone else without a strong income, such a prescription cost every single month can really be painful.

Synthroid has a generic equivalent, called levothyroxine. My doctor suggested several times that I could take it instead of Synthroid, because it essentially has the same effect. Doing so in the past wouldn’t have saved me or my parents any significant money.

Until now.

Last year, WalMart and Target both made a huge number of generic prescription drugs available for $4 each. You can read the full list of drugs made available by Wal-Mart and by Target.

This list contains levothyroxine, which I have begun taking. This move saves me $16 a month compared to my normal prescription cost.

This is an interesting deal for some, but it can be a life-altering deal for others. Take my grandmother, for instance. She’s now able to get three of her prescription medications from this list for $4, saving her about $75 a month compared to her old prescription bill. Given that she lives on a very small pension and Social Security, the $4 prescriptions have changed her life.

Aren’t there problems with generic drugs? Most of the supposed issues out there with generic drugs are the result of misinformation placed by the larger “name brand” drug companies. Look at Abbott Laboratories, for example, the makers of Synthroid. They put significant money into the marketing of Synthroid (like synthroid.com, for starters), even though it is basically just levothyroxine.

What should I do? If you take a name-brand prescription drug and pay a significant amount for it, you owe it to yourself to ask your doctor if there is a generic alternative to your drug of choice, and then ask him as well as the pharmacist if there are any drawbacks to the generics. In most cases, there are no drawbacks, but you should always consult medical professionals before making such a change.

Don’t let this opportunity go past, especially if you’re on a limited income. If you need a prescription drug of some sort that has a generic alternative, particularly one that is stretching (or breaking) your budget, take advantage of this. If you’re avoiding the doctor because you fear going on a prescription drug you can’t afford, take advantage of this. This is about more than your money, it’s about your life.

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