What’s In Your Doctor’s Health Care Shopping Cart?

Kenneth Lin

Posted 3/08/12 on Common Sense Family Doctor

A few years ago, the medical journal I edit received a letter from a reader who complained that the approximate prices of drugs we provided were often quite different from the prices he found online or in his local drugstore. This letter ultimately led to a re-evaluation of our rationale and process for estimating drug costs, as editor Jay Siwek, MD explained in this editorial:

Given the difficulties of arriving at the cost of a course of therapy or a one-month prescription, and the wide range of prices possible, we wondered whether it was worth the trouble. So, we did what we regularly do when faced with questions like this—we surveyed our readers. The answer was loud and clear: you want representative prices listed, for generic and brand name drugs. You also prefer an actual dollar amount, or range, rather than using symbols such as $–$$$, as some drug formularies do. And, you found this information helpful when deciding among drugs or when counseling patients.

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