Newcastle Drug Store — The Cheapest in America!

    NEWCASTLE, OK. — If you take prescription drugs you probably already know generics can save you money. But what you might not know is, even with generic drugs you could be paying a mark-up as high as 1000 percent.

    Unless you’re inclined to believe the signs, you’d never know a small-town pharmacy, the one sandwiched between the antique shop and hardware store, has a secret — a big one: the cheapest prescription drugs in America.

    “You know, that’s just the way we’ve been for 30 years. We’re just going to keep doing it,” said Kay Sauer, owner of the pharmacy.

    “I couldn’t have a better competitor by me, price wise, I have no problem,” said George Sauer.

    On a standard day it’s controlled chaos behind the counter at Newcastle Drugs. Two pharmacists check the orders while the army of technicians keeps the assembly line rolling.

    “We have so many prescriptions today we’ve used up all the gray buckets,” said Wendy Reynolds.

    On a single day, Newcastle Drugs can fill more than 500 prescriptions.

    “I can’t afford to buy over there, the very same thing,” said customer Tessa Stonebraker, 70.

    Stonebraker is one of those customers who sometimes had to choose between buying her pills and putting food on the table. She doesn’t any more.

    “I don’t care how come they’re cheaper,” she said. “I just know they’re cheaper.”

    Troy Williamson drives 10 miles out of his way for the unbelievable deal.

    “I drive down from Oklahoma City. I like the pricing,” he said.

    And, each month Portia Mitschke saves hundreds.

    “You have to drive out here. It’s a little more trouble. But it’s worth it,” she said.

    The satisfied customers are convincing. But, we wanted some hard facts about how much difference, if any, there is between Newcastle Drugs and the competition. What we uncovered is a closely-guarded secret in the pharmaceutical world.

    We’re under-cover scouring the Metro for prescription prices at more than a dozen pharmacies, checked seven common drugs and their generic equivalents. Here’s what the chain stores won’t tell you:

    For the generic prozac, fluoxentine, the chains pay about $3 for 100 pills. But, you will pay as much as $200 more. Newcastle sells the generic for $9.10. Wal-Mart’s price? Quadruple. Eckerd and Walgreen’s? Almost 20 times more. And, those online pharmacies we hear so much about? Some are making a 1,000% profit.

    Dr. Kevin Farmer suspects the chains are cashing-in on their uninsured customers.

    “Because generics are so much cheaper than brands,” he said. “A lot of pharmacies will try and make money there since they’re losing money on other prescriptions.”

    The owners of Newcastle Drugs accuse the chains of over-charging because they can.

    “They take the brand name drug. Take 75% off and that’s what they sell the generic for,” George Sauer said.

    “A pharmacist would come out and say, ‘I can save you $30 on this one. How would you like to switch to generic?” Kay Sauer said.

    Cordarone is a heart drug. For 100 pills the generic, amiodarone, costs $23 wholesale. But, if you shop at Eckerd you’ll pay $160. Online: $150. If you go to Walgreen’s it’s $145. And, not much cheaper at Wal-Mart. At Newcastle Drugs, you pay just $32.88.

    We contacted the chain drug stores and asked how they price their generics, why they’re making so much money. They refused to reveal pricing strategy. But, in a company statement, Walgreen’s says they can’t see how Newcastle is staying above water. Eckerd insists they offer a fair price, and agree to match neighborhood competitors.

    Wal-Mart says their prices are set based on the market.

    “They think we’re no longer a threat,” George Sauer said. “They don’t even pay any attention to us. I don’t think they want to go after us. Why? I don’t understand.”

    At Newcastle Drugs they make about $4.75 on every prescription. That’s just enough to buy the pills and pay the bills.

    “I’ve been trying to fight back for 30 years. And I’m not any different on that fight today than I was 31-and-a-half years ago,” George Sauer said.

    George and Kay Sauer won’t admit making any kind of big sacrifice either. It’s not charity, they say they live comfortably.

    “We don’t believe that you have to gouge people to make a living,” Kay Sauer said.

    You see, the Sauers measure their success not by their pay-off, but by their competition’s ability to put them out of business. And, by all accounts, the competition is nowhere close.

    We should tell you, Newcastle Drug isn’t always the cheapest when it comes to brand name prices. They do have a competitive price, sometimes hundreds less than the chains. But, we found several online pharmacies that do beat the Newcastle price for name-brand prescriptions.

    To contact the pharmacy please dial (405) 387-3000. Or, you can get more information on the company’s Web site, www.fairmeds.com.