6 On Your Side: Consumer Confidence, Buying medications online

(ABC 6 News) – If you get your prescription drugs mailed to you, you may have been relying on drug store chains like CVS and Walgreens.

But times have changed – these days the number of legitimate online pharmacies has grown, giving you plenty of low-cost options.

Here is our 6 On Your Side Consumer Confidence Reporter where Consumer Reports investigated several online pharmacies and found that the savings can be substantial if you know where to shop.

For Nicole Phillips taking generic Strattera helped her manage her ADHD, but found it hard to afford.

“Because of my high deductible, the generic Strattera, it was over 800-dollars," Nicole Phillips said.

Because of the high price, Nicole had to make a tough choice.

“I stopped using it because of the cost," Phillips said.

Nicole is not alone. In a recent Kaiser Family Foundation analysis, 3 in 10 adults who need a prescription drug said they didn’t take it as directed in the past year because the cost was too high. And it’s not just the uninsured who are struggling, says Consumer Reports Lisa Gill.

“Many people who are insured may have high drug deductibles to meet before any discounts start," Consumer Reports Investigative Reporter, Lisa Gill said.

A savings solution might be found online. Big-name retailers such as Amazon and Costco offer discounted drugs, as do sites like GeniusRx, Honeybee Health, and others.

To see if the savings are real, CR went to work, comparing prices so you don’t have to.

“In general, we found that the prices online were low," Gill said.

CR also found substantial savings if you order your medication for multiple months. For example, at Ro Pharmacy, you can get a 30-day supply of generic Lipitor–a cholesterol-lowering medicine– for 9 dollars and 90 cents. A year’s supply? Just 19-80.

But there may be some drawbacks if you’re paying out of pocket for your medication. For one, that money won’t typically go towards your insurance deductible.

Another drawback – you might not be able to find your exact prescription.

“Several of these sites we checked aren’t full-service pharmacies, so they may not carry insulin or brand-name drugs. They pretty much only offer low-cost generic drugs," Gill said.

Another problem: They might not do as good a job as your local pharmacy in checking for dangerous drug interactions. Bottom line: These sites might be able to help you save money. But if you take a lot of drugs, or complex drugs, sticking with a local pharmacy may be a better bet.

Before you try an online pharmacy make sure the site can ship to you. CR found four of the sites they checked ship to all 50 states.