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How to Save Money on Medicines

How to Save Money on Medicines

Medicines are an essential part of personal welfare, from a certain point of view. Depending on your health and any existing illnesses, taking medicines can also be an expensive affair. With that in mind, how can you even be able to save a certain sum from the pills?

Take advantage of the PBS

The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) is a federal government initiative to subsidise the costs of many prescription medicines. Under the system, scripts for PBS-listed medicines are capped for consumers at $42.50 while patients eligible for concessions are set for $6.80. However, recently-passed legislation enabled that cost to be set down to $30, per a federal pledge to invest $782m over the next four years.

The PBS has a safety net where the script rates apply during a calendar year, but this is only applicable to prescription medicines on a PBS-curated list. Concessional patients are set at $244.80 but PBS-listed medicines are free of charge beyond that and the safety net for general patients is $1475.10 with PBS-listed medicines bought beyond that safety net will be listed at the $6.80 concession rate.

Be sure to ask your pharmacist for a prescription record to help you account for all your prescriptions. There may be additional charges levied for brand premiums, therapeutic group premiums and special group contributions, but they won’t be added up to the safety net total.

Shop around for the best prices

If you are looking for deals, take note that some pharmacies may have some discounts available due to market competition or direct supply arrangements with manufacturers. The government though can allow chemists to have a $1 discount upon a patient’s request; however, at present, only Chemist’s Warehouse actually offers that discount, while the Pharmacy Guild of Australia wants it scrapped.

Go generic

Generic medicines are a cost-effective option when branded drugs tend to be very pricey. While generic drugs share the same chemical composition as branded drugs, federal rules require that their active ingredients must reach the bloodstream at the same speed as the branded counterpart. Generic drugs may differ from branded drugs, though, in the presence of inactive ingredients called excipients. If your doctor prescribes a certain medicine, ask them if there are generic versions of that medicine available.

Combination medicines

Some medicines, called combination medicines, are geared for treatment of at least one possible ailment. Examples of combination medicines include aspirin and paracetamol for pain management such as headaches and migraine, and dimenhydrinate for motion sickness and nausea. This avoids paying for separate medicines meant for different ailments.

Medication review

A father character in a popular sitcom once announced to his wife that his cardiologist cleared him off a certain type of heart pills. Problem was, he just bought four months’ supply of that medicine and was nonplussed on what to do with them.

If you have been prescribed for some time on a specific medicine, consider asking your doctor for a medication review, especially when you think the medicine has somehow improved your condition to a level when you no longer need them. Depending on the checkup and review, the doctor may recommend that you wean off the medicine, which may save you a tidy sum on new prescriptions. However, if you still have some stock of the medicine in question and you are no longer recommended to take it, the NPS suggests bringing them to your nearest pharmacy for disposal.

Be careful about new medicines

Advances in pharmaceutical research and life science are also giving birth to new medicines touted to be cutting-edge and can be relatively fresh to the market. However, even when the doctor does prescribe a new medicine, do not immediately rush to buy them, as their prices may still be high and are still under patent protection, meaning there’s no generic equivalents being produced as of yet.

You must also research the new medicine, especially when it is heavily promoted as “better” than current treatments; the resulting data may not be accurate or the drug itself is actually underperforming. The NPS took note of studies in the USA, Canada, and France, which pinned up to three percent of new drugs as sporting major benefits and no more than one third of all new meds are better than current drugs.

Look for expiry date

Some people may have ideas about taking existing medicine past their expiry date to save on buying fresh stocks or new visits to the doctor or pharmacy. However, health experts advise against this practice, as medicines lose their potency over time, even when they are stored in optimal conditions past their expiry date. The safest way to deal with them is to bring all expired or close to expired stocks of your medicine to the nearest pharmacy for disposal. Pharmacies in Australia can help in the elimination of expired medicines to avoid ending up in landfills.

Avoid buying from overseas

The pharmaceutical industry has benefitted from business advances brought about by e-commerce, including the ability for consumers to buy stock of supposedly cheap medicine from outside Australia.

However, the Therapeutic Goods Administration discourages buying medicines abroad, due to issues with the medicines such as not passing official certification for potency, storage, and quality. Worse, the sellers themselves may be trying to ship expired stocks or are scammers.

In the case of medicines that are legal abroad but not in Australia, any such items ordered for shipment to Australia have a strong chance for interception by the Australian Border Force, per import laws. It is often recommended that a medicine brand to be imported should only be under prescription and cross-checked with authorities such as the Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Forestry’s biosecurity arm (for medicines with organic compounds).

When you’re feeling something wrong with your body, medicinal intake of the proper kind and consultation may aid in seeking a solution. However, make the effort to find an effective and cost-affordable option.

UBUDGET, provided by UBOMI, empowers users to manage their finances by setting and monitoring budgets, thus giving them increased control. This is a formidable resource that can assist in accomplishing personal targets.

If you liked our “How to Save Money on Medicines” and find it useful, check our blogs regularly for more information to get updates on UBOMI’s budget app and expense tracker.