15 Jun 2015, Brooklyn, New York City, New York State, USA --- epa04801393 A Target Pharmacy in Brooklyn, New York, USA, 15 June 2015. CVS announced on 15 June plans to buy Target's in-store pharmacy and clinic business for $1.9 billion. EPA/ANDREW GOMBERT --- Image by © ANDREW GOMBERT/epa/Corbis

CVS Buys Target Pharmacies, Jacks Up Drug Prices

Target’s pharmacy business ran consistently in the negative and was sold to CVS. When CVS took over in February, affordable prices were noticeably missing.

A cash-pay price for generic Viagra, sildenafil, was $40 to $50 at Target. After the changeover, the price was $241 for the same quantity of pills. Patients ended up switching to another pharmacy that offered a more reasonable rate.

According to CVS, the increase was a change with GoodRX, a discount company administered by third-party networks, not the pharmacy. Walmart, Kmart, Safeway, and Kroger all charge $45 for the sildenafil, using the discount card, while Walgreens charges $450 and RiteAid $1,000. The changeover from Target to CVS caused some drug prices to spike more than they wanted, but prices should drop again to what they were previously with Target.

Patients should be concerned as consolidating companies give fewer choices, and less competition means higher prices. The remaining companies have more market power on a wider scale, offering higher prices because of the power of monopoly.

Buying health care with cash one realizes the wide range in pricing, often hidden when insurers pick up most of the bill. Prices under discount card programs can fluctuate regularly and vary between networks. When insurers pay higher prices, people will pay more for policy premiums.

Patients want to know the true costs of healthcare and need to shop around. Use sites like GoodRX to see which stores offer lower prices and which ones are a rip-off.  MediBid also offers true price transparency for healthcare, with big savings for those willing to “shop around”.

Lazarus, David. “In search of fair drug prices.” Business. Los Angeles Times, 22 Apr 2016. Web. 27 Apr 2016.

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