Did you know that according to the 2010 report by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers, spending for prescription medications was $234.1 billion in 2008? This is nearly six times the $40.3 billion spent in 1990.The Kaiser Family Foundation, using data from IMS Health and the U.S. Census Bureau, found that:

  • The majority of Americans take one or more prescription medications on a regular basis.
  • From 1999 to 2009, the number of prescriptions purchased in the United States increased 39%, while the population only grew 9%.
  • Top-selling prescriptions that are newer and higher-priced are prescribed more often than older and less-expensive medications.

With the recent slump in the economy and increase in unemployment, more and more people are looking for ways to save on drug costs. Read on for five expert tips.MORE FROM LEARNVEST: How to Save $500 Per Year at Your Pharmacy1. Talk to Your Local PharmacistTalk with your local pharmacist today. He/she can help you by working with your physician and answering any drug-related questions you may have. Remember, taking unnecessary medicine can lead to side effects and other problems, which will cost money to manage.Your pharmacist can also talk to you about using combination pills. If you take two medications that are available in a combination pill, you may be able to save money (and take fewer pills). The use of generic products, which can be safely substituted for the brand-name product, is another great way to save. But there are exceptions, so follow the advice of your physician or pharmacist about the use of generic medications. Many of these money-saving strategies will require a talk with your doctor to get a new or revised prescription.2. Use ‘Preferred’ Brand Name MedicationsInsurance companies charge lower co-pays for certain brand name medications that they encourage their enrollees to use. If you take a brand name drug that is not on this preferred list, it will cost you more money out-of-pocket. Talk with your insurance company or visit their website to find their list of preferred medications, which you can share with your physician.3. Use a Mail Order PharmacyYou can lower your out-of-pocket expenses by ordering your routine medications through the company’s mail order pharmacy, especially if you have health insurance. Mail order pharmacies will typically send you a three-month supply of medicine and pay the equivalent of two months in co-pays. These savings can add up over time. Again, discuss with your physician and/or pharmacist about using a mail-order pharmacy until you know that the medicine is safe and working for you.MORE FROM LEARNVEST: Should You Shop Online for Meds?4. Fill Your Prescriptions at One PharmacyIf possible, fill your prescriptions at one pharmacy. This will prevent unnecessary drug-related problems such as drug interactions, which again cost money to manage. If you use multiple pharmacies, have all your medications reviewed regularly by your physician or by your local pharmacist, consultant or senior care pharmacist. Refer to this site for senior care pharmacists near you.5. Look Into Patient Assistance Programs (PAP)Good news! Some pharmaceutical companies offer assistance programs (PAP) for the medications they manufacture.  If you don’t have insurance (or your income is within a certain range) you may qualify for patient assistance programs, which may include co-pay assistance, savings cards and coupons.For comprehensive information on PAP, refer to the following websites: