Drug advertising can cost you more

Undated, LA(KSLA)- Drug companies spend billions of dollars a year on TV and print ads so you'll ask your doctor to prescribe their drug and it's working.

But consumer reports says that could be costing you plenty.

"Ask your doctor about Celebrex."

"Have a heart to heart with your doctor about your risk, and about Lipitor"

Thanks to television ads, many drugs are household names.

"Talk to your doctor and go to Cymbalta.com"

And the 4 billion plus dollars a year that drug companies are spending in direct to consumer ads is paying off.

Consumer Reports National Research Center finds one in five people who take a prescription have asked their doctor to prescribe a drug they learned about from advertising. And most of them said their doctors did.

"What the ads don't tell you is that newer medications are often no more effective or safer than older ones," says Dr. John Santa with Consumer Health Reports.

And frequently there are better options at a fraction of the cost. Consumer Reports identifies Best Buy drugs for treating type 2 diabetes, asthma, and dozens of other conditions.

"To earn a Best Buy designation, a drug must be at least as effective and safe as others in its class, based on an independent review of research," adds Dr. Santana

And it often costs less. Take prescription Celebrex for joint and muscle aches.

At $139 a month, it's a pricey pain reliever compared to generic Ibuprofen, a Best Buy drug that costs just four dollars a month.

"Many of Consumer Reports Best Buy drugs are generics. We've seen in our surveys that more than 40 percent of people have concerns or misconceptions about generics, but they shouldn't," explains Santana.

So the next time you need a prescription, think twice before asking for the one you're seeing advertised.

Consumer Reports says discount-drug programs at stores like K-Mart, Target, Walmart, and Walgreens offer great savings. A month's supply of many of the best buy drugs is just four dollars.

But be sure to talk with your doctor and pharmacist before starting.