Facing expensive prescription costs? One website shows different prices in various pharmacies

One woman learned the difference between the cost of a Rx and the cost of a Rx given by a pharmacy

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TOLEDO (WTOL) - “It’s criminal," said Melisa Gumpf. "I always thought it was the cost of the prescription, but really it’s the cost of the pharmacy, and I would’ve never known that if I didn’t have insurance.”

When Melisa Gumpf and her family moved back to Ohio from Wyoming, she encountered a problem.

“We had a brief period where we didn’t have insurance, and I went to fill them and the cost for one of them was $400, the other one was $700," Gumpf said. "I mean nobody can do that.

Melisa has epilepsy, making her three prescriptions vital.

“I had to buy four days’ worth for $100 and some dollars and then I couldn’t do that anymore," she said. "I had to go awhile without it.”

That’s when Melisa turned to her doctor for answers. He introduced her to the website Good Rx.

“All you have to do is type in the medication, your location, and it will give you the cost of all the pharmacies around,” Gumpf said.

When her doctor did this, to Melisa’s surprise, she discovered she could fill her prescriptions at Costco for just $38 versus the hundreds she was originally told at a different pharmacy.

In fact, the four days’ worth of pills she bought to get by was nearly triple what the entire refill would’ve cost. But the financial burden wasn’t her only frustration.

“You have to be seizure free for so long before you can have a driver’s license again," she said. "And I was halfway there. Now I have to start all over again and that was frustrating.”

Melisa was just three months away from having a driver’s license again. Being a mom of two, she’s wants the ease and flexibility of being able to driver herself around. But now, she’s back at square one.

“That’s where the anger came from, when I found just how outrageously different the cost was," Gumpf said. "I just always thought it was the cost of the drug that you’re on, but that’s not the case.”

That’s not the case at all, Aaron Lengel, assistant professor of pharmacy practice at the University of Toledo said there’s multiple other factors involved in prescription pricing.

“So depending on that pharmacy, who they use as a wholesaler, who that wholesaler bought product from, you can get a large variation from company to company using different wholesalers or even buying product at different times," he said.

As Lengel points out, supply and demand play a big role as well. And besides websites like Good Rx, he encourages people to have a discussion with their pharmacist if they’re in a bind.

“We view ourselves as the medication experts and we are the side that wants to ideally help people get the best outcomes from their medications,” Lengel said. "Asking that pharmacist, this is what we’re treating, are there cheaper alternatives that you’re aware of?”

While she had to learn the hard way, Melisa said she takes comfort in now knowing her options.

“I think just the comfort part of knowing that it doesn’t have to be that expensive," Gumpf said. "If something were to happen to insurance down the line, that I’m not going to have that problem anymore. I’ll be able to afford it somewhere.”

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