How to Get Cheap Medications for Diabetes

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According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 23 million Americans have diabetes. Uncontrolled diabetes can cause serious complications, such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness and nervous system disease. Diabetes is an expensive disease. The CDC reported that direct and indirect costs of diabetes totaled $174 billion in the U.S. in 2007. The American Diabetes Association says the monthly treatment cost for an uninsured diabetic is $350 to $900. Consequently, many people are looking for ways to save money on prescription diabetes medication.

Talk to Your Doctor

Ask her exactly what diabetes medications you should be taking. Find out why she is prescribing those particular drugs and ask if any alternatives are available.

Ask for an older drug. According to Consumer Reports, older diabetes drugs are just as effective as newer ones. They also are more affordable. Newer name-brand diabetes drugs can cost several times more than older drugs. Generic versions of older drugs typically cost $10 to $60 per month.

Ask your doctor for free samples of the medication. Pharmaceutical sales representatives frequently give doctors samples of the drugs they are selling.

Request a prescription for the largest tablet strength suitable to your dosage. A 500-mg tablet usually costs much less than two 250-mg tablets. Use a pill splitter to cut the pill to the proper dose. Check with the pharmacist before splitting an extended-release pill because some will not work correctly if they are cut.

Ask your doctor if a combination drug is available. Taking a combination drug usually is less expensive than taking multiple drugs, and it lowers the risk of adverse effects.

Lowering Costs

Call several pharmacies to find the best price for your diabetes drugs. Costs for the same drug can vary from store to store. Some pharmacies offer diabetes programs with free or reduced-price drugs. For example, Publix offers free Metformin to members of the Publix Pharmacy Diabetes Management System.

Check your eligibility for government-run programs such as Medicare Part D, Medicaid, TriCare, VA health programs or a state-sponsored plan. NeedyMeds provides information about various state-sponsored programs.

Contact a patient-assistance program. Often run by pharmaceutical companies, these programs provide free or reduced-cost prescriptions to uninsured, and sometimes underinsured, people. The Partnership for Prescription Assistance maintains a list of more than 475 private and public programs. Each program has its own eligibility requirements, and the income limits vary widely.


  • Ask your doctor about any other programs in your area.


  • Always follow your doctor's or pharmacist's directions when taking your medication. Taking less than your prescribed dose to save money can lead to more expensive treatment in the long run.