Western Pacific Pharmaceutical Forum

This website aims to provide information on pharmacy practice and pharmaceutical science in Western Pacific region and beyond.

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Costs of Common Medications

Costs of Common Medications

Prudence & Cost of Your Medications

* How many medications are you taking every day?

* Have you been taking some medications on long term basis?

* How much are you paying for your medications per month?

Let us share the following tips for saving on how much you spend on your medications. If you have better ideas on how to save more, do email us so that we can share them with everyone.

1. Be responsible for your health and illness.Find out more about how you can stay healthy or how you can improve your health by adopting a healthy lifestyle and following your doctor’s and pharmacist’s advice. When your health condition is well-controlled, your doctor will not need to increase the dose of your medications or increase the number of your medications or change to different medications. You can then save on cost of your medications.

2. Know your medications, take them correctly. Understand why you are taking each medication, how it works and how to take it correctly. You may have consulted the best doctor who prescribed the best treatment, but if you are not taking the prescribed medication correctly, your condition will not improve. It may even go out of control, resulting in hospitalization or an earlier visit to your doctor.

3. Ask your pharmacist.Talk to your pharmacist who is a trained medication expert, to find out more about your medications. The pharmacist will advise you on how to use your medications correctly. If you are taking more than 5 medications or if you are consulting more than one doctor, do bring all your medications to the pharmacist for a “medication check-up” at least once a year. The pharmacist will check that you are taking the correct medication, a safe combination of medications and the correct dose. The pharmacist will ensure that you are not taking different brands of the same medications which can look different but contain the same active drug or you are not taking a medication that you do not need anymore or you are not taking a medication that gives you a bad side-effect. With a “medication check-up”, the pharmacist will help you to get the most benefit from your medications, reduce wastage of your medications and prevent unnecessary hospitalization or unplanned doctor’s visit. This will be translated to more savings.

4. To reduce medication cost, ask you pharmacist for cheaper options. A pharmacist is familiar with the prices of most medications. As a medication expert, the pharmacist can help you and your doctor select an affordable medication that works. The same medication may be available in the more expensive branded (proprietary) or cheaper house-brand (generic) forms. The pharmacist can also provide you with the prices of the proprietary and generic brands of the medications that you are taking so that you can make an informed decision before paying for your medications.

The proprietary medicines, commonly known as “branded” or “original”, usually cost more than the generic equivalence because of the heavy investment in research and development (R&D) required to develop each medication. Most governments give the proprietary companies a period of patent for these companies to recover their investment. When the patent expires, other companies will launch similar “house-brand” products. As these generic manufacturing companies do not need to invest in R&D, marketing and advertising costs, the cost of the medications are cheaper. All medications, including generic ones, are licensed by the Health Sciences Authority of Singapore (HSA) before they can be supplied or sold to the public in Singapore.

5. Itemized billing. When you collect or buy your medications, ask for a breakdown of the bill of each medication, for example the price of 30 tablets or one 50ml-bottle of cough mixture. You should have the same looking receipt as those you get from your supermarket where each item’s price is listed. Then you can compare the price of that brand of each medication from different clinics and pharmacies. If you prefer, you may ask your doctor for a prescription so that you can check the prices and purchase the medicine from outlet which gives you the best price and services.

6. Know when you can look after yourself. If you have a minor ailment such as cough and cold for 1-2 days, you may choose to self-medicate (treat yourself) by seeking appropriate advice and medicines from the pharmacist. This may be more convenient and less costly.

Here is a list of the commonly prescribed medications and their suggested retail price range for general reference.

- Prices are obtained from the community pharmacy chains, not public hospital or polyclinic.

- Prices may differ due to varying volume of sales at different pharmacies.

- Prices could be subjected to change without prior notice.

The Pharmaceutical Society of Singapore shall not be held liable for any inaccuracy of the information contained therein.

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