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Check your prescriptions for the letters DAW

Jul 12, 2011 | | Comments Comments Off

DAW means “dispense as written.” When a doctor writes a prescription for a brand-name drug, adding “DAW” could prevent you from getting a less expensive generic if one is available.

And the extra costs can be signficant, according to a recent article in the Washington Post. A 90-pill bottle of anti-cholestrol med Zocor costs $459.98, while 90 pills of simvastatin, the generic version of Zocor, are only $83.97. At pharmacies that have $4-a-month generic drug programs, such as Target and WalMart, you could shrink the cost to $12.

With a few exceptions, generics are essentially the same as their brand name counterparts, but many doctors still (not entirely rationally) distrust them, the Post noted. There are other reasons for insisting on brand names, the article goes on to say.

It is also habit. Brand names are the names doctors most easily remember. Drug samples left in physicians’ offices — seemingly a free gift for doctors to dispense and patients to receive — make them more memorable. Often, sales representatives will treat a physician and his staff to lunch, and leave behind an array of pens, coffee mugs and USB memory sticks branded with the name of their drugs.

Advertising also has an effect, both on doctors and on patients, who ask for specific drugs they’ve heard mentioned on TV.

Want to save money? Ask your pharmacist about generic versions of any drugs you’re prescribed, and question your doctor if DAW is on your prescription.

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