Public Advocate Senior Citizen Pharmacy Study: Queens Chain Drugs Stores Charge Most For Medications

A survey of Queens drug stores in areas with highest senior populations found nearly half charged more than the Citywide average for 20 medications frequently prescribed for the elderly.
Conducted by the City Public Advocate’s Office, the study also revealed that buying medications in large Queens chain stores was not a guarantee of low prices.
The study’s lowest Citywide drug prices were found in Costco, at 32-50 Vernon Blvd., in Long Island City.
"Comparison shopping for drug prices is especially crucial for seniors, who are often on limited incomes but need medications on a regular basis," said Public Advocate Mark Green. Since Medicare doesn’t cover the cost, he said, knowing where to find the better deal is the best way to save hundreds of dollars a year.
Green said that, because many stores did not provide adequate pricing information, he would ask the City Council to require pharmacies to post senior discount information prominently. The new legislation would also require signs indicating that the store pharmaceutical charges meet current State price guidelines.
The study’s three key findings were:
•Drug prices varied significantly, with large Queens chain stores charging higher-than-average prices for key drugs.
•One-fourth of local drug stores surveyed did not have correct drug prices properly displayed. While most drug stores offered 10 percent senior discounts, only a handful advertised the price break.
•Seniors were urged to price each prescription individually. Since drug prices vary widely, one pharmacy may charge above-average price for one medication, and a below-average price for another.
The study compared pharmacy prices, using the total cost of purchasing 20 popular drugs according to State-designated amounts and strengths. The study also checked prices for individual drugs and compliance with price disclosure laws.