About the Best Buy Drugs campaign
The mission of the Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs project is to provide consumers and their doctors with information to help guide prescription drug choices–based on effectiveness, a drug’s track record, safety and price.
The project aims to improve access to needed medicines for tens of millions of Americans–because they lack insurance coverage for prescription drugs, because the prices of many medicines today are so high, and because many consumers and physicians may not be aware of proven and affordable alternatives.
Best Buy Drug reports provide information that will help patients open a conversation with their doctors about prescription medicines–and particularly about which medicines will best meet their medical needs and give them the most value for their health care dollar.
The findings presented in each report combine an expert medical review of the scientific evidence on prescription drugs with their prices. The analysis compares and contrasts prescription drugs by category – that is, drugs in the same class that are used to treat a specific condition or illness such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heartburn or depression.
Campaign materials from Best Buy Drugs
Consumer Reports offers free guides to individual drug types, easy-to-read fact sheets, and advice on how to be a smart consumer of prescription drugs.
The reports are offered in full, summary and Spanish formats. Each PDF file may be read here, printed or downloaded to the user’s own device.
- Individual needs vary and people respond to antidepressants quite differently.
- We evaluate seven second-generation antihistamines in this report.
- This report evaluates the use of five antiplatelet drugs.
- The atypical antipsychotics aren’t good first choices as add-ons to antidepressants.
- This report focuses on the use of prescription medications called atypical antipsychotics by children and teenagers.
- Find Best Buy Drugs that are less expensive, as effective and as safe as some pricey, brand-name drugs.
- Our analysis found no evidence that any ADHD drug is more effective than another.
- There is no way as yet to predict who will respond to one of the five drugs approved to treat Alzheimer's disease.
- Not everyone with asthma or COPD needs an inhaled steroid.
- If your constipation persists for two to three weeks, you may need a drug. A variety are available.
- Six types of oral medicines are now available to help people control blood sugar.
- We have chosen one alpha-blocker as a Consumer Reports Best Buy Drug.
- PPIs are effective at treating GERD, but you will have to see a doctor to confirm you have the condition.
- We recommend that both prescription and nonprescription sleeping pills be used judiciously.
- If your frequent trips to the bathroom are interfering with your life or you're having accidents, consider medication.
- Many people who have not benefited from other rheumatoid arthritis drugs get some relief from biologics.
- Make sure you understand the drug, why you're taking it, what to expect, and what to watch out for.
- Muscle relaxants might help with spasticity in disorders such as cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis or stroke.
- This report shows how you could save $135 a month ($1,640 a year) or more if you need to take an NSAID.
- Opioids are only moderately effective in treating long-term chronic pain.
- How did these dangerously addictive pills turn into the most prescribed drugs in America?
- If you have osteoporosis, here is how to choose a drug to prevent bone fractures, considering effectiveness, safety and price.
- There are seven statins, but they're not all the same. Some deliver a greater reduction in cholesterol than others.
- If diet and exercise alone do not help enough, then you should consider adding a blood pressure drug.
- If nonprescription pain relievers don't work for you, the next step may be a triptan.
Money Saving Guides
The guides are offered in English and in Spanish. Each PDF file may be read here, printed or downloaded to the user’s own device.
- The big difference is that generics usually cost less than brand-name drugs.
- There are things you can do to save money on drugs—and sometimes a lot of money.
- The best way to make sure you are taking the right drugs is to review all your drugs with your doctors periodically.
- Using your plan’s formulary will help you save money on your drugs.
- One in five prescriptions in the U.S. is for a use not approved by the FDA.
- Do you need help paying for prescription drugs? You may qualify for a Prescription Assistance Program (PAP).
- Both the label and the information sheet tell you important safety information.
- Tell your doctor about any previous unpleasant side effects, allergies, or bad reactions.
- Many doctors and health authorities are advising this strategy with more and more medicines.
- Every time you get a new drug, make sure you understand why you are taking it and how to take it.
- If you skip doses, take less than the full dose, or stop too soon, the drug may not work properly. Taking too much of a drug can also harm you.
- This fact sheet will help you learn about the medicines that you can take to get some relief from allergy symptoms.
- This fact sheet will provide you with important information on the types of medicine used to treat asthma.
- When do you need a constipation medicine?
- If you think you are depressed, here's how to talk with your doctor about antidepressant medicines.
- Learn about medicines like aspirin and similar medications, known as antiplatelets, which can help protect your heart.
- Heart failure does not have a cure. But there are tests to diagnose the disease early and medicines you can take to treat heart failure.
- Here's what you need to know about medicines for heartburn, acid reflux and GERD.
- If diet and exercise are not able to help you, then your doctor may need to give you a medicine for high blood pressure.
- This information will help you have a conversation with your doctor about medicines that lower cholesterol levels.
- Is it safe to take hormones to treat menopause symptoms?
- Here is some information about the best medicines available for migraines.
- Learn about two conditions that cause muscle pain and stiffness, and the medicines used to treat them.
- Do you take pain medicines to treat headaches, migraines, back aches, and even joint pain? Then this fact sheet is for you.
- In cases of osteoarthritis or fibromyalgia, it can become difficult for doctors to decide whether or not to use opioids.
- What medicines do doctors use to treat rheumatoid arthritis?
- This is a report about the different medicines that can be used to treat type 2 diabetes.
The Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs project has worked with numerous organizations to raise public awareness about the project and to help consumers learn how they can get better value for their prescription drug dollar. These include national and local organizations, senior and community groups, labor unions, employers, insurance companies and pharmacy benefit managers. The national organizations listed below are among those who have helped us spread the word.
National Center for Farmworker Health (NCFH)
National Urban League (NUL)
Prescription Policy Choices (PPC)
Medicare Rights Center
The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (N4a)
Our analysis of prescription drugs is based primarily on an independent and unbiased review of the scientific evidence on the effectiveness and safety of drugs in specific classes, such as drugs to treat high blood pressure, heartburn, high cholesterol, depression or migraine headaches.
These reviews are conducted by teams of physicians and researchers at several medical schools under the auspices of the Drug Effectiveness Review Project (DERP). DERP is a first–of–its–kind 13–state initiative to evaluate the comparative effectiveness and safety of commonly used prescription drugs. The states use the information to help guide drug coverage policy for their Medicaid programs. Researchers at the Oregon Health & Science University (in Portland) coordinate the project. None of the research teams have any financial interest in any pharmaceutical company or product. Their detailed findings are presented in a series of technical reports. Those are available by clicking here. Dr. Mark Helfand of OHSU serves as a consultant to the Best Buy Drugs project, helping us translate the DERP analyses for consumers. Occasionally we rely on unbiased reports conducted by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality under a provision of the Medicare Modernization Act.
The drug prices we use come from a health-care information company that tracks the sales of prescription drugs in the U.S. All the prices are national averages (for consumers who paid cash) based on data from pharmacies nationwide. As such, they may not reflect what you will pay at a local pharmacy. Indeed, prices for drugs vary quite widely, even within a single city or town.
Our Best Buy picks are based on a comparison of the drugs in that class to each other. The main criteria we use are a drug’s effectiveness and safety, the side effects it may cause, it’s convenience of use (for example, how many pills you have to take each day), its track record in studies and actual use, and of course how much it costs relative to other drugs. There is no set formula for choosing our Best Buys. The factors differ in each category, and some of those factors are quite subtle. However, in general, our Best Buysare chosen because they are: (a) as effective as all the other drugs in the category, or more so; (b) as safe and cause no more – and usually fewer – side effects than other drugs in the category; and (c) cost less on average than other drugs in the category. That is not always true, though. Several of the Best Buys have been chosen because of their superior effectiveness or safety profile even though they cost more. Overall, a drug’s effectiveness relative to its competitors is the most important criteria in choosing our Best Buys.
Our Best Buy picks may change over time as new scientific evidence emerges and/or as drug prices change. Also, new generic drugs may become available in a given category.
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This page is for doctors, pharmacists, health professionals, health administrators, educators and counselors.
Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs is a grant-funded public information project administered by Consumer Reports, the non-profit publisher of Consumer Reports magazine. The reports and publications on this web site are written for consumers. Their intent is to deepen consumers’ knowledge and understanding of their prescription drug options and choices. They aim to enhance communication between consumers and health care professionals.
Our reports are based on systematic reviews of the scientific research. These reviews are conducted under the auspices of the Drug Effectiveness Review Project, a unique initiative funded by 13 states. The actual reviews are conducted by teams of researchers at several “Evidence Based Practice Centers” (EPCs), which are selected to perform this kind of work by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). The EPC at the Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) coordinates the DERP Project.
If you have not heard of DERP, we refer you to their excellent Web site. This site contains the detailed drug reviews on which our reports are based.
The DERP reports undergo extensive peer review before final publication. Our drug class reports, which render the lengthy DERP analyses into language and a context that consumers can understand, undergo a separate peer review process. Indeed, Best Buy Drug reports are produced independently of DERP although, under contract, one of the leading DERP researchers at OHSU helps us “translate” the DERP reports into a consumer-friendly form.
Consumer Reports bears sole responsibility for the content of our reports and our recommendations.
We encourage you to tell your patients or clients about Best Buy Drugs. If you are interested in distributing our reports or other publications in your office, or by other means, please contact us.