Tamiflu Drug Prices Vary Widely in Michigan, Tips on Getting the Best Deal

By: Jennifer Dowling Email
By: Jennifer Dowling Email

At the Lansing Community Pharmacy, Tamiflu drug prices are some of the least expensive in the area. Pharmacy Manager Mike Salquist says, "Everyone does their own pricing and because we're a small, local independent, we try to service our people in our local area and try to keep our prices very competitive."

The Michigan Attorney General released a drug survey that shows just how much the prices vary from pharmacy to pharmacy. It reports that the cost of liquid Tamiflu at the Lansing Community Pharmacy was only $28.00 when the survey was taken. Meanwhile, the Target Pharmacy at 5509 W Saginaw Highway had a price listed at $70.00. On the higher end, the report showed that the L&L Pharmacy (Atlas Drugs) at 6075 North Hagadorn was charging $119.00 while that pharmacy was still open. The Sparrow Pharmacy Plus at 915 E. Michigan Avenue is listed in the report as charging $99.90.

Attorney General Spokesman Nick De Leeuw says the wide range in prices is why the attorney general is looking into the matter. He says, "We found prices ranging from a low at a Lansing pharmacy of $28.00 all the way up to $140.00 at one pharmacy in Grand Rapids." "We're taking a look at the pharmacies that seem to have prices that are above what you would expect based on the other results."

Attorney General Mike Cox says "The high cost at some pharmacies of a drug that can save lives is disturbing." Investigators are currently looking at whether more action should be taken for the pharmacies that are charging outside the report's $53.00 average. To make sure you're getting a good deal, the attorney general advises that you call around or go online to price compare pharmacies and prescriptions. De Leeuw says, "Here in Michigan, we've really got to watch our dollars and make sure we're getting the most value for our buck."

If you are researching the prices online, Mike Salquist advises that you still call the pharmacy first before you head out the door. He says the prices can go up due to what the manufacturer is charging for the drug. He says, "Whatever our cost is, we take our dispensing fee and that's how we figure out our prices." "If the cost of the manufacturer goes down, then we try to pass that on to the consumer."

In fact, prices at the Lansing Community Pharmacy have gone up since the survey was taken. He says that is due to what the manufacturer charges them. He says the cost is now in the $50 range for the liquid Tamiflu. He says, "It's out of supply and demand. So, as demand goes up, and all the publicity that the H1N1 virus has received this year, it's going to pass along whether the shortage is from the manufacturer or experienced locally or nationwide, it's all based on demand." That's another reason to call the pharmacy right before heading out to fill your prescription.

In a written statement, The Michigan Pharmacists Association says the reason that prices vary is because, "Pricing can vary simply due to the weight of the child and materials needed. Because each prescription is created specifically for an individual patient, the materials used are different each time in order to create a customized prescription based on the prescriber's orders."

If you would like to check out the Michigan Attorney General's Drug Survey, go to www.michigan.gov/tamiflu. To look at a price comparison website, go online to michigandrugprices.com. There is also a direct link to those sites listed under the hotbutton on our website.

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