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Saving a Buck: Money on meds

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Many Americans are grappling with the high cost of medicine right now and may be jeopardizing their own health as a result.

Patients not filling prescriptions, taking expired drugs or skipping doses.

For common ailments like allergies, acid reflux or aches and pains, the best remedy and price 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," Consumer Reports’ Dr. John Santa 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 said 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," he said.

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

For allergy sufferers, over-the-counter antihistamine pills like Claritan, Alavert, Zyrtec and their generics are just as effective as the prescription drugs Astepro, Clarinex and Xyzal.

You could save up to $148 a month.

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 a month.

Whether you're taking an over-the-counter drug or a prescription, talk to your doctor if symptoms continue more than 10 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.