In a study sample of 528 pharmacies, Arora, Sood, Terp, and Joyce found that prices at independent pharmacies and by using online discount coupons were markedly lower, on average, than at grocery, big-box, or chain drug stores for two widely prescribed antibiotics. Drug prices varied dramatically within a zip code and typically were less expensive when purchased in lower-income areas. The average price difference within a zip code was $52 for levofloxacin and $17 for azithromycin, which suggests that price shopping within a small geographic area can yield considerable cost savings, particularly for uninsured and insured consumers in high-deductible health plans with high negotiated prices. A possible explanation for the greater price variation with levofloxacin is that it recently became available as a generic, so there has been less time to establish a fair market value.
Citation: Arora, S., Sood, N., Terp, S., & Joyce, G. (2017). The Price May Not Be Right: The Value of Comparison Shopping for Prescription Drugs. The American Journal of Managed Care.