Prescription drug prices have gone through the roof.
A month’s supply of Lipitor: $160
A month’s supply of Nexium: $196
A month’s supply of Plavix: almost $200
A month’s supply of Singulair: $170
A month’s supply of Lexapro: $120
A month’s supply of Crestor: $156
One inhaler of Advair: $235
A month’s supply of Cymbalta: $170

With prices like those, it is hardly any wonder that insurance companies are doing everything in their power to switch you to a low-cost generic.
A month’s supply of the sleeping pill Ambien could cost $220 or more, depending on where you buy it. The generic zolpidem is less than $20.
What’s the catch? Many visitors to our website have complained about problems with certain generic versions of zolpidem. Here is just one:
“The XXX generic brand of Ambien does not work at all. It has given me hives and also, I have taken 20mg and it is 1 am and I am writing this during a terrible bout of insomnia. The real Ambien puts me to sleep within 20 minutes or less. I wish there was somewhere I could send these pills off to be analyzed. Something is wrong with this picture.”
The trouble is that many, if not most, of the generics that go for $5 or less come from countries like China or India where the FDA cannot do much inspecting. The result is that you are on your own when it comes to battling insurance companies about low-cost generic drugs that don’t do the job.
Then there are the side effects that you may have to contend with whether it’s a generic or a brand-name prescription.
One of the most popular drugs in the pharmacy is lisinopril for high blood pressure. We have heard from so many readers who were not warned of a very unpleasant side effect:

“Started taking lisinopril 2 weeks ago, which is about the time my cough started. This cough is unreal! I have only slept about an average of three hours nightly since.
“I have had coughing spells like this in the past, like a post nasal drip from allergies. At first I just thought that’s all it was. However, it never lasts this long or is this unrelenting. It is a gagging, tickle in your throat type of cough.
“I have finished a whole bottle of Mucinex cough, a whole bag of cough drops, lots of Advil for the body aches and headache from coughing, prescription type Zyrtec daily, several nebulizer treatments, nose sprays, and I have to carry a bottle of water with me everywhere I go. After a couple nights of coughing so hard, I woke up with diminishing vision in my R eye and had to go to the ER that day. Also went to two eye doctors since. None of them can figure out what happened to my eye. I think it had something to do with coughing so much! Going for MRI today. Luckily I asked for the upright kind because every time my head hits the pillow another coughing spell starts.
“Called the doc right before getting on this web site to ask for a different high blood pressure med. Hope it doesn’t take a long time to get out of my system like some people are reporting. Good luck to all!”

So…here’s the bottom line. Even the most widely used prescription medications can have unpleasant side effects. Brand-name drugs can cost an arm and a leg and the generics are not always trustworthy. What’s a person to do?
One possibility is to try an alternative approach. We are offering our new book from National Geographic called The People’s Pharmacy Quick and Handy Home Remedies. It is filled with practical affordable advice for dozens of common ailments. Here is a link to find out more about that book. As an added incentive we are offering for the holidays a companion volume, Recipes and Remedies From The People’s Pharmacy at 50% off the cover price of $14.95. When you put in the CODE: RR50 you will get Recipes and Remedies for $7.48. It would make a fabulous gift for someone this holiday.
To take advantage of this special offer you will need to put both books into your shopping cart. That is, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Hand Home Remedies AND Recipes & Remedies. Once they are in, make sure you put in the special code RR50 to get your 50% discount on Recipes & Remedies. The cost of the book will go from $14.95 (cover price) to $7.48.
Should you decide to purchase Top Screwups Doctors Make & How to Avoid Them, we are extending our offer of a FREE copy of Favorite Foods From The People’s Pharmacy through the end of November. It will be sent automatically with EVERY copy of Top Screwups that is ordered!
Questions: please call 800-732-2334

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  1. JM

    Is there a generic “esomeprazole” and does it work? Thanks, Jim

  2. Cindy Black

    The prices for those meds: UTTERLY BEYOND BELIEF. Never having had insurance/medical benefits, I could never in a million years afford even one of them. OH…THANK…GOD… I’ve always taken good care of myself and/or had good luck and thus don’t have to take any Rx meds. Oh, how “enlightened” human civilization has become… when human existence comes down to MONEY.

  3. DH

    I found that the 10 mlg caused me to cough but the 5 mlg did not and seemed to keep my blood pressure where it should be. I also felt dizzy with the 10, but not with the 5.

  4. Carol

    People’s Pharmacy program and newsletter have been an invaluable resource in finding alternatives to prescription meds, both brand name and generic. I again repeat my recommendation of unsalted almonds for high LDL and triglycerides and fresh or dried papapaya for GERD. With these food products I have avoided the lipitor and nexium traps, saved a bundle in co-pays and enjoyed tasty treats!

  5. Gerry Anne M.

    The Lisinopril I took came with notice of a possible side effect of a cough. People should read all of the information supplied with a drug even if it is in smaller print–it is still important!

  6. STEVE

    For the last several years I have been impressed by the service and knowledge you impart to us. Over the same period I have been a bit frustrated by the divergence in what you report on generic problems as opposed to brand name by another well respected institution: Consumer Reports.
    They seem to repeatedly affirm that there is no basic result or effective difference. I agree much more with you. Have you ever communicated with them about all the reports you get about generic problems? If so, if you are so willing to share, what has been communicated by them to you?
    If no communication it seems that it might be a very helpful collaboration on this problem that could help us all by getting more attention to the public about generic / brand name quality differences. Sure would like to hear a reply from you.

  7. Helen M

    I also take a lot of meds and over the last year have dropped some, switched over to generics for others. I found simvastin, generic, does not work worth the taking for me, weaned off any PPIs, and now have just one brand name med.
    We import all kinds of medications from India and China, nevertheless getting medications at half the name brand price, or less, from Canada is a no-no. Next year my last brand name is to go generic, unless there is a deal to hold the generic version back.
    I am in the donut hole, generics are still covered, name brands not; I just had to pay the so-called discounted price for my med. Over the last year or two the drug companies have gotten ready for this discounting by raising the prices on their name brand meds, where no generic is available.
    What cost me about 415 last year, when I went into the donut hole, as I do every year, cost me 249 this year. Drugs, medical professionals and greed are running amok in America and the people are forgotten, except when it comes to taking our money.

  8. Hlt

    I have been taking Diovan 80 mg for my blood pressure for 11 years. My new doctor changed to Lisinopril 20 mg for 1/2 pill per day. Three days after I took Lisinopril, I felt tired, dry cough, headache and light dizzy …
    I got an appointment to see the doctor, she told me to take 1/4 of pill…. but the cough did not go away. The doctor still don’t think that because of Lisinopril, she ordered me to take some allergy on the counter at drugstore. So I did, but nothing stop that dry cough and was getting more progressive !
    Finally, I requested to go back to diovan. It took me 2 months for the cough gradually reduce but not complete clear yet. I just hope that it will be completed go away soon.

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