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Prescription costs: How to save hundreds of dollars on your medicine

LYNCHBURG, Va. (WSET) -- How would you like to save hundreds of dollars on your prescriptions?

It's easier than you think.

According to Consumer Reporters, only about one out of every five comparison shop for our prescriptions.

The Meredith's saved hundreds of dollars by prescription shopping after Judy Meredith needed a special prescription for intestinal problems.

When she and her husband, Frank, went to a box store to pick it up, it was $743.

A friend told the couple about an Independent Pharmacy , Timberlake Pharmacy, where the prescription only cost $28.85.

The Independent Pharmacy performs compounding services in addition to offering manufactured pharmaceuticals.

They cannot copy manufactured products with compounded ones, but they can work with the individual patient to come up with a health plan.

"Compounding is basically mixing of ingredients, that's how pharmacies basically started," said Vince Ettare, a pharmacist. "A doctor would write an order and we would combine the different plants of herbs or drugs or whatever to meet the patients need."

Compounded drugs are not FDA-regulated, and according to the FDA, could carry health risks.

However, the FDA recently issued safety guidelines for state licensed pharmacies to follow.

According to the Fiscal Times and IMS Health data, doctors write millions of prescriptions for five drugs: Levothyroxine, Lisinopril, Acetaminophen/hydrocodone, Atorvastatin, and Metoprolol.

Those drugs treat problems like: pain, high blood pressure, heart issues, and high cholesterol.

After calling Walgreens, Walmart, and CVS to check on prices for a generic 30-day supply of those five drugs, all the same strength, without insurance it was shown that the prices varied even at the big stores.

Atorvastatin cost $130 at CVS & Walgreens for a 31-day supply, $30 at Walmart, and $11 - $15 at the Independent Pharmacy and also online at healthwarehouse.com.

Levothyroxine was $26 online and $12 at the Independent pharmacy, but only $4 at Walmart.

Lisinopril was $4 at Walmart and the Independent pharmacy, and $16 at Walgreens.

Acetaminophen/Hydrocodone ranged around $15 at all pharmacies.

Metoprolol was close to $12 cheaper at Walmart, online or at the Independent pharmacy than it was at CVS or Walgreens.

In the end, the conclusion is that it's not just one pharmacy that's the cheapest, what will save you money is checking around to several different ones.

Prices will vary depending on prescription plans.

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