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Avoiding price hikes when paying for prescriptions

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OKLAHOMA CITY- The price of prescriptions is on the rise for many Americans but a bit of savvy shopping can save you hundreds.

For people regularly taking prescription medicine, Consumer Reports says the average annual cost is more than $700.

However, there are surprising ways to cut your drug costs.

Lisa Gill said, “The first thing you can consider is taking an over-the-counter medication for really common ailments as opposed to taking a prescription drug. But of course, you’d want to do that with the advice of your doctor.”

For seasonal allergies, Claritin is a good and much cheaper substitute for Xyzal.

For heartburn, over-the-counter Priolosec or store brands containing Omeprazole are roughly as good as Nexium at a fraction of the cost.

For occasional insomnia, look for generic Diphenhydramine, the ingredient found in Sominex and Benadryl, rather than prescription Lunesta.

Another way you might be able to save is paying for your prescription yourself rather than going through your insurance plan.

Gill said, “Paying out-of-pocket can be cheaper is you use discount programs at stores like Sam’s Club, Wal-Mart or Target.”

Paying outright for Pravastatin, which lowers cholesterol, could cost less than your insurance co-pay.

Gill said, “If your insurance company has a preferred pharmacy, you definitely want to shop there because you could see some pretty big deals. If they have a mail-order program, you may want to check that out too because you could see some savings there as well.”

When shopping for over-the-counter medicine, look for store brands.

They’re often right next to name brands and can cost a lot less.

Consumer Reports says you shouldn’t take drugstore displays that say ‘clearance’ or ‘sale’ at face value.

Those offers can entice you to buy a name brand that’s on sale but is still more expensive than the store brand equivalent.