Saving money on prescription meds

(NBC) - It’s a morning ritual for George and Judy Turner: taking their medicine.

Nobody loves it, but George got downright angry when he found out how wildly the price for those medications can vary.

It all started when he went to pick up his wife’s prescription for Losartan, a blood pressure medicine. For two years, the couple had been paying $35 for a 90-day supply at Life Drugs.

But this time, Judy’s doctor ordered the prescription at Wal-Mart by mistake.

"And when I walked into Walmart to get the prescription, she said, 'That will be $160.08,' and I said, 'You have to be kidding.' That's more than four times what we've been paying,” George said.

What George discovered is one of the secrets of the pharmaceutical drug industry: how the prices for the same drug can be different from one pharmacy to the next.

"It really varies based on prices the prices they have to pay their wholesalers, and where they get the medicine from,” said pharmacy professor David Wallace.

NBC compared five of the most popular generic drugs and the prices charged for those drugs at five different pharmacies: Walgreens, Target, CVS, Walmart, and Costco.

The difference was astounding: the total for all five had a price difference of more than $700 from one pharmacy to the next.

The key to saving big at the drug store is clearly to shop around: call five to 10 difference pharmacies in your area and check prices over the phone.

But whatever pharmacy you choose, doctors say you should make sure you buy all of your prescription drugs at the same store, so you will lessen the chances of a dangerous prescription drug interaction.