The Best Buy Drugs Campaign

Providing guidance on prescription medicines

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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.

Drug reports 

These will help guide your prescription drug choices, based on effectiveness, a drug’s track record, safety and price.

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.

Money Saving Guides

These brief guides will help you navigate the world of drugs – to save money when you buy them, to talk to your doctor about your treatment options and choices, and to take drugs more safely and wisely.

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.

Fact Sheets

Each fact sheet provides simple-to-read information about the medical condition  and then introduces the type of medication used to treat the condition, how the medication works, any side effects, and questions to ask your doctor. Each fact sheet ends with a list of the  specific medicines recommended by Consumer Reports as Best Buy Drugs based on effectiveness, safety and affordability.


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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Getting print copies of our content

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If you would like to use our content in other ways for public education purposes, for example, translations for non-English speakers, in scholarly works, classroom teaching, personnel training, and in-patient care and education materials, please contact our Outreach Director and we will send you the relevant content licensing documents.

Our mission is educational. We are not supported by advertising or corporate funding and our No Commercial Use Policy does not allow our marks or content to be used by others to market their own products or services.

For professionals

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.