Chicagoans get sticker shock over prescription prices, look for ways to save

If you've dealt with sticker shock over a prescription lately, you are not alone.

More patients are finding the cost of prescription medications are doubling and tripling over a short amount of time. But there are a few ways consumers might be able to save money.

In some cases, avoiding the middle man could mean you 're paying significantly cheaper prices even without using insurance.

Jennifer Harris has been struggling with a skin condition, but she also struggles with the high cost of her medication.

"It was a lot for me to be able to afford it and I stopped paying it,” she said.

When the condition wouldn't go away, she switched doctors and made a shocking discovery.

"I came here and Dr. Fine offered it to me for the clinic and it was $43 dollars vs. hundreds,” she said.

"More often than not when I write a prescription, it will not be covered,” Dr. Lauren Fine said.

Dr. Fine is a dermatologist trying to find cheaper ways for patients to get their medication.

"We have coupled with a compound pharmacist that is able to make many of the most common prescriptions we use here for our office,” Dr. Fine said. “This usually results in medications that's significantly lower in price."

Exactly how much lower?

"Instead of paying 2-3-4 hundred dollars, they are paying maybe 20 or 40 dollars,” Dr. Fine said.

Dr. Fine's office is becoming a part of a growing trend of cutting out the middle man. Once the drug leaves the manufacturer, there can be as many as five different players involved in negotiating the price.

That's where the old fashioned compound pharmacy can make a difference. They prepare personalized medications. It was once a dying business because of mass drug manufacturing, but now it’s in demand.

“We keep overhead down so pricing is very competitive, if not better than traditional big box stores,” said compound pharmacist Anthony Panici.

But what if your doctor doesn't work with a compound pharmacist? Experts says here are some options: shop around. The cost of the same prescription drug can vary significantly at different pharmacies, even a few miles away.

In some cases, you can actually save hundreds of dollars by not using your insurance copay and looking for free discounted coupons online.

Try reputable drug prescription websites for discounted coupons. Consumer reports two favorites are and

Finally, and this is important, ask your doctor and the pharmacist if there is a less expensive alternative, because in many cases you won’t be offered one unless you inquire.

It's important to note, compound pharmacists use FDA approved drugs, but once they are mixed, they are not FDA approved. That's why it's important to make sure you have a reputable pharmacist.