Survey Shows Mississippi Prescription Price Discrepancies

Some Mississippi pharmacies are charging significantly more than others for the same prescription drugs, according to a survey released Tuesday by the AARP and the state attorney general's office.

"The simple message is if you're a senior citizen and on a fixed income, then you ought to shop around for drug prices,'' Attorney General Mike Moore said.

Workers with the attorney general's consumer protection division and volunteers for AARP, a retirees' group, in April called pharmacies in Columbus, Greenville, Gulfport, Hattiesburg, Jackson, Meridian, Natchez, Southaven, Tupelo and Vicksburg. They asked about prices for six drugs:

  • Celebrex for arthritis
  • Alprazolam for anxiety
  • Ambien for sleeping problems
  • Evista for prevention of osteoporosis
  • Hydrocholorthiazide for hypertension
  • Amoxicillin, an antibiotic

The survey showed that in Jackson, a 150 milliliter supply of Amoxicillin was being sold for $19.90 at a Super D Drugs store and $4 to $5 at Specialty Pharmacy.

In Natchez, a 60-pill supply of Alprazolam was quoted at a high of $25.79 at Wilson-Holder Drug Co. and a low of $8.20 at Byron's Discount Drugs, the survey showed.

In Columbus, a 30-pill supply of Celebrex was being sold for a high of $92 at New Hope Pharmacy and a low of $72.99 at a Rite Aid Pharmacies store.

About 30 AARP members packed into Moore's office Tuesday for release of the survey. Only two said they regularly shop around for the best prescription prices.

"I have shopped around. I moved from one drug store to the other, and the one I moved to was more expensive,'' said Maple Davis of Jackson.

Jean Pitts of Jackson, who lives in a retirement home, said she tries to call about prices, but she knows some people have few choices.

"It's hard for many senior citizens, especially in their 90s, to go out and do their shopping,'' she said.

Michael Rhodes, consumer protection director of the attorney general's office, said some stores had high prices for some drugs and low prices for others. Large-volume discount stores don't always give discount prices, he said.

"Not all stores have low prices consistently,'' Rhodes said.