Allison Myers was diagnosed with breast cancer a few years ago.
She was forced to undergo a double mastectomy.
The treatment caused Allison to experience depression her husband Mike told 17 News.
“So when I’d come home from work and my house would be dark and I would walk into my room and ask my wife what is the matter, she’d be depressed and have tears in her eyes,” said Mike Myers, owner of Blue Ribbon Automotive.
Allison’s doctor prescribed Abilify–then available only as the premium brand name drug.
“She needed the medication, I wanted my wife to be happy, and I wanted to see the smile on her face…and it worked,” said Mike Myers.
The Myers’ insurance renewed this July, and Myers went to refill the medication again.
Now with a generic version of Abilify on the market, Myers hoped the price would come down.
“She was quoted a price of $180 [copay] with our insurance,” said Myers.
But Myers remembered a news report that said sometimes the cash price can be lower than the copay.
Myers asked his local Walgreens.
“I was quoted a price of $965,” said Myers.
When we called, we were told $963.99 for 30 tablets of generic Abilify.
“Of course I fell down, that was just so much money to me I mean that’s my house payment for a month,” said Myers.
So Myers started calling around.
“When I called my pharmacy where I get my medications from i was quoted a price of $35 for the same medication that Walgreens quoted me $965 on,” said Myers.
We consulted Diana Lee, owner of Lee’s Pharmacy in downtown Bakersfield, who said 30 tablets of generic Abilify would cost about $40.
Just across town, the same drug, over $900 cheaper, and $140 cheaper with cash than the Myers’ copay.
“I just felt that this is wrong. If it’s happening to me, it’s happening to a lot of people here in Kern County, it’s also happening to a lot of Americans,” said Myers.
In a statement, a Walgreens Corporate Spokesperson wrote:
Prices are determined by a number of factors including the manufacturer’s price, the cost of doing business at that location (such as lease costs and taxes) and other operational factors. In addition to participating in most insurance plans, we also offer our Prescription Savings Club <https://www.walgreens.com/pharmacy/psc/psc_overview_page.jsp?ban=rxh_psc_3> which offers savings on more than 8,000 brand and generic medications. Walgreens also accepts a number of other discount program cards. When choosing a pharmacy, we encourage patients to select one that offers the best value based on pricing and also the services available – such as participation in government plans, 24/7 convenience and services that can accommodate immediate prescription drug needs.
Lee advises consumers to go to a pharmacist who knows you if possible.
“If it’s an expensive generic, it is worth price shopping, but if it’s something fairly inexpensive like a $20 prescription, it should be about that anywhere you go,” said Lee.
“And here I am today talking with you so we can let other people know you need to watch what you spend your money on and just don’t take the first answer that’s given to you,” said Myers.
We want to hear more of your stories about high medical costs you’ve experienced.
If you’re willing to share, contact 17 News at 283-1717 or at 17News@kget.com.