Lets start with a huge understatement: Taking any medication regularly can be expensive. And water is wet. But getting well doesn’t need to send you into financial ruin, at least not with NSAIDs. There are more economically reasonable options.
What Are NSAIDs?
NSAIDs are a group of common drugs used to relieve pain, swelling, and fever. Many are available over-the-counter at your local pharmacy and are frequently used for headaches, colds or flus, and menstrual pain. Over-the-counter NSAIDs include aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen. These tend to be the cheapest, but more on that later.
Other NSAIDs are available with a doctor’s prescription. They are often used to treat long-term illnesses’ symptoms, especially the inflammation and pain associated with such conditions as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and gout. These medicines may be stronger formulations of over-the-counter NSAIDs, or may be other compounds such as indomethacin, ketoprofen, or meloxicam. These tend to be more expensive, especially patented drugs that are exclusively owned by one drug company.
Tip #1 – Take a Cheaper NSAID
Most NSAIDs have similar effects on the human body, so they are largely interchangeable (at least in theory). Reasons for using diffenent NSAIDs may be a matter of side effect profiles, individual reactions to the drugs, or drug tolerance after prolonged use. If there isn’t a specific reason to take one NSAID, according to your doctor, then probably any NSAID will do. Speak to your doctor – or get a second opinion – about which medication best fits your budget.
Tip #2 – Buy Generic
This is a very important point because a month’s supply of one NSAID could be hundreds of dollars cheaper than another, and for the same effect. Nowhere is this price difference as obvious as between brand name and generic versions of the same drug. Tough the chemical makeup is exactly the same in each, a big company’s pill could cost double that of a generic competitor.
Tip #3 – Use Memberships
Many pharmacies, and superstores containing pharmacies, have membership cards offering members discounts, sometimes very significant discounts. If you go to a large chain pharmacy, ask someone about their membership terms and discounts, especially on the medications you’re interested in. Be sure to shop around as one store may offer better deals than another.
Tip #4 – Use Over-the-Counter Whenever Possible
The over-the-counter versions of NSAIDs are by far the cheapest. The price increase between two dosages of the exact same medicine can be startling, especially if one of those dosages is a prescription medication. If you need to take 400mg of an NSAID, it’s might be possible to take two 200mg capsules of an over-the-counter version. Speak to your doctor about whether they could suit you better, especially if your insurance plan doesn’t cover the prescription.
And the Winners Are…
By far the two cheapest NSAIDs are generic, over-the-counter naproxen and ibuprofen. Depending on where you buy them, you can get a month’s supply for under $20. Maybe even under $10. Over-the-counter naproxen tends to be cheaper than ibuprofen, but prescription naproxen is much more expensive than prescription ibuprofen.
A little research by you and your doctor can be the difference between hundreds of dollars worth of prescriptions per month and less than you would spend on a mid-week dinner. Though a large and potentially confusing group of drugs, cheaper NSAIDs are a definite possibility for those willing to put a little work in up front.
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