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Retail Drug Pricing Is All Over the Board

October 25, 1992

The pharmaceutical industry's answer for price gouging is usually the "cost of research," which to some extent may be justified, "Prescription Drug Makers Pressured to Rethink Prices" (Oct. 8).

But how do you justify the gouging being done by our friendly neighborhood pharmacies?

I belong to an HMO. However, my coverage, regrettably, does not pay for prescription drugs. While many health plans allow consumers to pay as little as $2 to $5 per prescription, I, and many others, must pay full retail. I have learned to shop.

I take a pill called Purinethol to help control an intestinal problem. I take two 50-milligram pills each day, or 730 a year. The only Price Club pharmacy in Los Angeles charges $180 per hundred. PX pharmacy, a nice, friendly neighborhood operation that delivers, charges $192 per hundred.

At those bastions of bargains, Sav-On, Thrifty and CVC pharmacies--what a deal! They only wanted from $251 to $260 per hundred.

In desperation, I contacted Horton & Converse. A steal at $313 per hundred. The interesting part is that they all use the same manufacturer and, I assume, the same distributor.

None of them keeps more than one bottle of 25 pills in stock, so they can't claim they have money tied up in inventory. The bottom line is that you can pay from $1,314 to $2,285 a year for the same treatment.

DAVE BLAINE

North Hollywood

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