MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- How much do you pay for your prescription drugs? Prescription medications cost millions to produce, and drug companies make billions in sales. Have health insurance, and you're probably paying a pretty low price for that 30-day supply. But if you don't have insurance, the real price of prescription drugs could cause your heart rate to go up!
"[People will] be shocked. Not just amazed, they'll be shocked," Hashim Zaibak, the owner of Hayat Pharmacy in Milwaukee said.
Zaibak says about 90% of his customers have some kind of health insurance, but the ones who don't may not be able to afford the medication they need.
"Most of the time they come to the pharmacy, they pick it up and they pay their co-pay - whether it's $3, $10 or $50 - they go home and use it and they don't know how much it actually costs," Zaibak said.
For nearly 50 years, Lester Carter has been running Carter Drug Store, Inc. at 24th and Burleigh. He knows the real price of prescription medications might turn some of his customers away, but offers some great advice.
"Question the prices very carefully, and you will find that goes a long ways towards finding out the true amounts of some of these medications," Carter said.
Contact 6 is asking the questions for you. We checked with six pharmacies, big and small - to see what they charge for the top three medications in the United States - the depression drug, Abilify; the heartburn medication, Nexium; and the anti-inflammatory, Humira.
We`re asking for the same dosage and a 30-day supply.
Carter Drug, Hayat Pharmacy and Walgreens gave us their prices right away, while three other big-name pharmacies refused. So a Contact 6 producer took a hidden camera inside to talk with the pharmacists and get the prices before insurance or discounts are applied to the cash price of the medications.
Here are the results (from least expensive to most expensive):
Carter Drug - $215.50
Walmart - $274.62
Walgreens - $292.99
Target - $298.49
CVS - $307.99
Hayat Pharmacy - $347.91
Average price for a 30-day supply: $289.58
Average price per pill: $9.65
Carter Drug - $789.30
Walmart - $919.46
Walgreens - $962.99
CVS - $970.99
Target - $978.49
Hayat Pharmacy - $1,124.87
Average price for a 30-day supply: $957.68
Average price per pill: $31.92
HUMIRA 20mg (two-injection pack)
Walgreens - $1,837.99
Walmart - $2,690.62
Target - $2,702.99
CVS - $2,946.99
Carter Drug - $3,008.15
Hayat Pharmacy - $3,610.76
Average price for a 30-day supply: $2,799.58
Average price per injection: $1,399.79
These are prices not many can afford on a monthly basis, but if you're one of those people, there is hope.
"Almost always there's an alternative that's less expensive, and that's when you consult with a pharmacist," Zaibak said.
Zaibak points out that he, and most pharmacists, will work with customers who don't have insurance to find an acceptable price - like considering generic forms of the medications. Once the manufacturer's patent runs out, the price can drop significantly and save you a lot of money.
Also, check manufacturer websites. Some companies actually offer deep discounts or even free prescriptions on some drugs.
You can also download apps to your smart phone - like "LowestMed" - which will help you shop for the lowest drug prices in your area.
Just do your homework and you'll find the best price for your needs.
CLICK HERE to visit Abilify's website.
CLICK HERE to visit Humira's website.
CLICK HERE to visit Nexium's website.