How to Get Your Prescription Drugs for Less

Nearly 60 million Americans don't have prescription drug benefits -- and the majority of them are seniors on fixed incomes. While some of the major drug companies have recently come out with prescription discount cars, most only offer a 10 - 15% savings, according to the federal government's General Accounting Office. One publisher says you can do better than that -- by taking advantage of the drug companies best-kept secrets and get your prescriptions for free.

73 year old Barbara Hamby takes several prescription drugs a day to control her cholesterol, diabetes and high blood pressure. "I take ten pills a day," she says. "Six in the morning and four at night."

Her drugs aren't cheap, either. Barbara's daughter, Donna helps keep tabs on the costs. "The Actose was $128," Donna Vinson explains. "The Monopril is $90, and it's a blood pressure medication that she takes twice a day. The Lipitor is a cholesterol medication and that one is $118."

"When you're on a fixed income," Barbara Hambry says, "you have a choice, you buy food, or you buy prescriptions -- and it's a shame!" Barbara's dilemma is something more elderly Americans say they're facing as prescription drug prices continue to rise. You could fill two shopping carts of food for the price of one month's supply of Lipitor. Author Tracy Brown says that's what prompted her to take action. She hopes to help provide mediation to people who can't afford it -- and save lives.

Brown published a book of what she calls "The Drug Companies' Best Kept Secrets." The book is a comprehensive, cross-referenced compilation of pharmaceutical programs that offer their drugs at little or no cost. "The drug companies made the deal with Congress and with Clinton that they would establish the program," Brown says. "They did not mention that they would advertise the programs. So my job is to unveil their secret and let people be able to use it."

Brown uncovered that secret wile helping her mother pay the bills after he father had to be moved to a nursing home. "I heard somebody, somewhere say something about an indigent drug program, and that's when I got a hold of the bull by the horns and took off running!" Brown researched, surfed the Internet and did a lot of writing to gather hard-to-get applications forms. The whole process took over a year.

Donna Vinson is grateful for Brown's research. "I mean, she had to dig to find 'em," Vinson says. "Thank goodness she did! Because she makes people like my mother able to afford their medication and able to, you know, take it and have a good life!" Now, her mother, Barbara Hamby is getting most of her prescriptions for free. "It's amazing!," says Vinson. "She goes from paying $450 a month down to $50."

Tracy Brown's book is called "The Drug Companies' Best Kept Secrets." It is published by Nook Publishing and costs $50. Brown is hoping to market the book to places that will allow public access to it, like libraries and councils on aging. You can also ask your pharmacist for the name and phone number of the companies that make your drugs. With that information, you can call the drug company and ask about what programs they offer and what their eligibility requirements are.