Generic drug update and advice for Zyrtec users
by Caleb Reading
Drugs recently available as generic:
The generic prescription version of Zyrtec is available, and it’s OTC (although we’ve only been able to get brand name Zyrtec-D in stock as an OTC). Brand name prescription Zyrtec and Zyrtec D aren’t being made at all in any forms (I noticed the OTC Zyrtec D is the same pills as the prescription version, just repackaged). This has been a huge pain because we have patients on liquid forms of the drug and we can’t get it in stock now as a generic or an OTC or anything. It’s also causing all kinds of insurance turmoil.
If you are a cash patient (for example, if your insurance refuses to pay for it, which it probably will), the cheapest way to get Zyrtec right now is buying the generic prescription version (You will need a prescription from the doctor. Yes I actually have to point this out.) I think we’re selling the generic for around $20 for 60 pills. I do not recommend buying more than one month at a time to save on per-ticket fees, because the drug could possibly drop quite a bit in price over the next few months.
The cheapest way for a cash patient to get Zyrtec-D is to buy regular generic prescription Zyrtec then buy OTC pseudoephedrine separately (You will need your driver’s license to get it, unless you want to try substituting a different decongestant).
I do not recommend having your doctor switch you to a different prescription allergy medication just because you can get it with a copay. The copays on prescription allergy medications tend to be high (often $40/month). The full price on generic OTC allergy drugs are often much cheaper than the copays on prescription allergy drugs. And insisting on getting something that costs (for example) $80 instead of something that works exactly as well for you that costs $20 is part of the reason people like me can’t afford good health coverage. And, just as a courtesy, could you please not bellyache about your copays to the often underinsured workers in the drugstore? The person ringing you up is probably in pain from standing for hours and hours on end, can’t afford to see a doctor about the pain, and would gladly kick a politician down a flight of stairs for the chance to get insurance for the same group rate you’re paying. (Hell, I’d kick a politician down a flight of stairs just to distract me from the leg cramps for awhile.)
Drugs that may be available or should be soon:
Altace (as far as I know there is only one generic company making this with 180-day exclusivity, so the price is unlikely to really start dropping until June or later.)
Over-the-counter Prilosec (The big chains might already have generic prilosec OTC, but the independent store I work at hasn’t been able to get a single box of it, ever. Recently, one of our suppliers started taking preorders for it.)