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Ways to Save on Your Cholesterol-Lowering Medications

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Updated September 15, 2013

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Ways to Save on Your Cholesterol-Lowering Medications

Cholesterol-lowering drugs can be expensive, but there are ways you can save money -- and take your meds.

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Prescription drugs can be costly, especially when you have other expenses to contend with, such as bills, job loss, or accumulating debts. In extreme cases, you may be tempted to skip your cholesterol-lowering medications in an effort to save money. Unfortunately, doing this could cost you more money in the future. High cholesterol levels could lead to a heart attack or a stroke if left untreated.

The good news is that there are many ways to save on medications for lowering your cholesterol. So if you find yourself pinching pennies -- and it’s interfering with your ability to take your cholesterol medication regularly – try one of the methods listed below. Taking your medication as prescribed will help you to keep your cholesterol levels low and will also lower your risk of heart disease.

Ask for Samples

Drug representatives sometimes give prescription drug samples to healthcare providers’ offices. If you are having trouble affording your cholesterol medication, ask your healthcare provider if he has samples of your medication available to provide to you. While this is only a temporary solution, it can help you to secure funds until you are able to purchase your medication.

Request Generic

Generic medications are mostly cheaper than brand name cholesterol-lowering medications. They are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are rated equivalent in effectiveness and active ingredient content to lower your cholesterol. While some cholesterol-lowering medications are not available in generic versions yet, there are many cholesterol drugs that are. Ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist if the medication you are taking is available in generic form. Even if you have insurance, filling your prescriptions in generic will usually result in lower insurance co-pays.

Prescription Savings Plans

Many pharmacies have prescription savings plans available – especially if you do not have insurance that pays for your medications. These plans range from a flat fee on certain medications to providing a discount on your drugs. Check with your pharmacy to see if they have a prescription savings program and if your medication is covered on this program.

Ask for More Pills Per Prescription

In most cases, purchasing more pills per prescription could result in lower cost per pill. Therefore, instead of having a monthly prescription of 30 pills, ask your healthcare provider to write for a three-month prescription of 90 pills purchased at a time to save you money. If you have insurance, some companies will also enable you save money on a three-month supply on medications.

Split Your Pills in Half

Another way to save on your medications is to split your pills in half. Never do this on your own without consulting with your healthcare provider first, since taking the appropriate dose for lowering your cholesterol is important and some of your pills cannot be cut in half. For instance, if you are taking Lipitor 10 mg daily, your healthcare provider can write your prescription for Lipitor 20 mg, taking one-half of a tablet daily. You can cut your pills in half by purchasing an inexpensive pill-splitter from a pharmacy department. If you do not feel comfortable enough to accurately cut the tablets in half, ask your pharmacy to do this for you.

Prescription Assistance Programs

Some companies, especially those that manufacture medications that are only available as a brand name, have assistance programs available that will help you to pay for your medication. While most of these programs require you to be in a certain income bracket to qualify, they can significantly cut the cost you pay on your cholesterol-lowering medication each month – especially if you do not have insurance to cover your prescription drugs.

Talk to Your Healthcare Provider

Lastly, if you’re not compliant with your medications due to cost, be honest with your healthcare provider about this. Your healthcare provider isn’t psychic, and may not know that you are having trouble affording your medication. He or she may be able to switch you to a cheaper cholesterol-lowering medication or may find alternative ways for you to save on your medications each month. Not only will this allow you to take your medications as prescribed – it can help you to lower your risk of heart disease.

Sources:

Dipiro JT, Talbert RL. Pharmacotherapy: A Pathophysiological Approach, 6th ed 2005.

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