Advance with MUSC Health

Ask the Pharmacist: Alternatives to High-Cost Medications

Advance With MUSC Health
April 11, 2022
Illustration of medication and coins.

By Zena Gorgeis, PharmD Candidate, Nick Silvestri, PharmD, Kristy Brittain, PharmD, BCPS, CDCES, Brenda Fauteux, PharmD 

In the last 30 years, prices on prescription medications have increased by $30 billion. Surveys indicate that at least 18 million Americans were unable to afford at least one of their prescription medications in the past year.1 The Kaiser Family Foundation opinion poll found that one in four Americans had difficulty affording prescription drugs due to high out-of-pocket costs.2  Fortunately, MUSC Health is here to help.

MUSC Health outpatient pharmacies offer many services designed to expand access to affordable medications and improve the health of our community. Want to learn more? Here are a few tips that can help lower the cost of your prescription medications.

  1. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle – this is the best way to reduce health care costs. In patients with hypertension, weight loss might be able to avoid, delay, or reduce the need for medications. Recent studies report that regular exercise (7,000 steps/day) is associated with lower all-cause mortality.4

  2. Review your prescription plan annually. This is especially important for Medicare Part D-eligible patients. Resources on such as “Finding a Medicare Plan” can be helpful to review your options. The best plan for you may change year to year.

  3. Find your insurance plan’s drug formulary and compare your medication list with the formulary. There may be equally effective medications on the formulary that are less expensive. If you need help finding this information, contact the pharmacy staff at MUSC Health.

  4. Use generic medications when possible. If your primary care provider does not specify that a brand name drug is required, a less expensive, generic medication will be dispensed.

  5. Know what each medication. You can set up a Medication Therapy Management consultation with an MUSC Health pharmacist for a comprehensive review of your medications.

  6. Consult your MUSC Health pharmacy team to discuss the pricing of your medications. For patients without prescription insurance, pharmacies differ in drug pricing for the same medications. MUSC Health Pharmacy offers very competitive pricing and is committed to passing the cost savings to our patients.

  7. Find out about savings, monthly discounts, or free trial cards. For specific brand-name drugs, the manufacturer or your insurance company may offer coupon savings or reductions in monthly copays to eligible patients. Samples or free trial cards may also exist for specific medications. This can be helpful in getting you started on a medication while waiting for prior authorization approval. MUSC Health Pharmacies have a prior authorization team dedicated to speeding up the approval process.

  8. Ask your pharmacist about eligibility for patient assistance programs. MUSC Health pharmacies have a team dedicated to helping patients find assistance programs that they qualify for. 

  9. Sign up for mail service. MUSC Health also offers mail service for both pediatric and adult patients to South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and North Carolina (with restrictions by specific insurances). Prescriptions are delivered to your doorstep with no delivery fees. 

  10. Do not forgo filling a prescription or skip doses without consulting with your primary care provider or pharmacist. Untreated conditions or poor medication adherence can result in increased costs, missed work days, and unnecessary emergency room visits and hospitalizations. 

  11. If you have questions, visit our MUSC Health pharmacy locations or contact the pharmacy staff at 800-237-0794 or locally at 843-876-0199.

1 Prescription Drugs: Spending, Use and Prices. Accessed 1 April 2022.
2 What are the recent and forecasted trends in prescription drug spending? Accessed 1 April 2022.
3 Find a Medicare Plan. Accessed 1 April 2022.
4 Paluch AE, Gabriel KP, Fulton JE, Steps per day and all-cause mortality in middle-aged adults in the coronary artery risk development in young adults study. Jama Network Open 2021;4(9):1-12.