About Amy Umble:
Amy Umble is health reporter for The Free Lance-Star

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Pick a drug, find its price

The  Attorney General of Vermont has an interesting feature on his official Web site. It’s a search engine that gives the prices for 90 of the most popular prescription drugs.Pills

 The site says, “The Attorney General created this website to help Vermonters comparison shop among pharmacies, since drug prices typically are not advertised or even displayed.”

Users choose a drug, then a county in Vermont, and the site displays the list prices at pharmacies in that county.The site is specific to Vermont. But it shows that the price of prescription drugs can vary tremendously from pharmacy to pharmacy in the same county.

 For example, Lipitor, the popular cholesterol drug, is available in four pharmacies in Addison County. The list price in those pharmacies ranges from $94.41 to $104.99, for 30 pills of the 10 mg. size. That’s a difference of about 11 percent.

Prices for 30 pills of the 20 mg. size range from $134.05 to $165.68, a difference of 23 percent.

Critics have pointed out that the site is of limited value since most people pay a copay set by their insurance plans. The uninsured are more likely to be paying the list prices that are shown.

 The site can be seen here.