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Call Kurtis: Prescription Prices Can Vary Thousands Depending on Pharmacy

Call Kurtis: Prescription Prices Can Vary Thousands Depending on Pharmacy
February 11, 2016 11:35 PM
By Kurtis Ming

Filed Under: Call Kurtis

STOCKTON (CBS13) — Gary Medina says his chemotherapy pill Tretinoin is keeping his Leukemia in remission. However, the pharmacy quoted him $3,359 for a one month supply.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” his wife Janice said.

The couple knows they can’t afford this prescription out of pocket for long.

“It’s easier to die,” Gary said. “It’s cheaper.”

CBS13 found the same specialty drug can vary by more than a thousand dollars, depending on the pharmacy.

  • Gary’s Pharmacy: $3,359
  • Costco: $1,580
  • Walgreens: $1,900
  • Walmart: $2,200
  • Independent Pharmacy: $2,462

Why is there such a difference?

“They can almost name their price,” said John Ortego of Parkside Pharmacy.

He says it’s a free market and some pharmacy markups are higher than others. He suggests asking your doctor if there’s a cheaper alternative. You can also check with the drug manufacturer if they have a coupon or a discount program. At minimum, he says call around for pricing.

“I would do my best to price match,” he said.

Gary’s pharmacy told us it, “ conscious of the growing healthcare and medication costs and therefore makes efforts to exhaust all lawful and appropriate opportunities to secure savings for our patients.”

It did discount Gary’s pills by $400. Fortunately, his insurance agreed to cover future prescriptions of this life-saving drug.

A recent Consumer Reports survey of five common generic drugs found CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid were the most expensive. Surveyors found the best prices online at, and good deals at Costco too. You don’t need a membership to fill a prescription at Costco.

Kurtis MingfacebookFollowEight-time Emmy Award winner Kurtis Ming is CBS13's consumer investigative reporter. Since joining CBS13 in 2003, he's held the position of general assignment reporter and weekend anchor, before starting the "Call Kurtis" consumer advocacy program,…More from Kurtis MingComments

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