If you think you are paying too much for your allergy medications, you probably are.
This week, I’m focusing on generic medications and how buying generic allergy medications can save you hundreds of dollars each year.
What is a generic drug? A pharmaceutical company manufactures a drug that is usually under a patent that, until the patent expires, may not be produced by another company. Once it expires, a generic can be made. The FDA deems a generic drug as identical (or bioequivalent) to a brand name drug in:
- dosage form,
- route of administration (how a drug gets into your body and travels to the area it is meant to target),
- performance characteristics, and
- intended use.
We are lucky to have a myriad of generic options to treat common afflictions. As insurance plans move to higher and higher deductibles, patients need to become smart shoppers when it comes to their medical care. Here are some tips that can save you money on your allergy medications.
Last year, the patents for Singulair (generic: montelukast), Astepro Nasal Spray (generic: azelastine 0.15%) and Allegra syrup (generic: fexofenadine) expired. Many generic options already exist for oral antihistamines and nasal sprays. The best way to find the generic is to shop for the active ingredient. Below I have charted three of the most common brand name allergy medications at today’s prices, the active ingredients and the cost to buy the generics at your local warehouse club.
What about your nasal spray prescriptions, which can be highly effective for many allergy sufferers? Find the generic Flonase by looking for the active ingredient fluticasone. There are also generics for Astelin (generic: azelastine 0.10%) and Nasacort AQ (generic: triamcinalone). How about steroid creams? I am a big fan of generic triamcinalone acetonide cream. You can even buy it in a one-pound container, and this is helpful if you were going through a 30 gram tube every few days. Do you use eye drops to help with your allergies? Check out your local pharmacy eye care aisle and look for ketotifen eye drops instead of Zaditor or Alaway.
Seeking out generic forms of medication can save you a lot of money. Several years ago, brand name Flonase and Zyrtec cost roughly $2,000 per year! Generic options have cut treatment costs over 90% for these users. Some people swear by a brand name medication for their needs, but most people cannot tell a difference. And remember, generic drugs undergo FDA approval to ensure they meet regulations for safety and efficacy. Talk to your doctor to figure out what’s best for you.
So the next time you are ready to purchase your brand name medication, turn over the package and check the shelf for a generic equivalent. Your wallet will thank you for it!
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Disclaimer: This blog is not intended to create a doctor-patient relationship with any reader. If you need personalized medical advice, contact your primary care physician or other physician in your community.