Report: The Most and Least Expensive Cities for Prescription Medications

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Where you go to fill your prescriptions could have a major effect on your bottom line – and we’re not just talking about a choice between this pharmacy or that one. Your city could play a big role, according to a recent report.

Prescription drug comparison site GoodRx has a list of the cities with the most and least expensive prescriptions.

GoodRx says there are at least a couple of potential reasons why prices vary up to 60% on prescription prices depending on where you live:

  • High cost of living: Some cities with lower costs of living also have low prescription costs, but this doesn’t hold across the board. For example, GoodRX says in Atlanta, the cost of living is high but prescription prices are 21% lower than the national average.
  • The “big-box effect”: Where there are big-box retailers (think Walmart and similar stores with $4 prescriptions), prescription prices are typically lower, but again this isn’t the case everywhere.

Money expert Clark Howard says that price increases can happen for any number of reasons.

“Prescription price increases can result from a product shortage or a change in your insurance coverage. And in rare instances, manufacturers may raise prices because there are no competitors selling the product.”

Where Does It Cost the Most and Least To Fill a Prescription?

The site compiled the list from researching cash prices for 500 of the most commonly prescribed medications in 30 American cities from January 1, 2023 to January 1, 2024.

Here are some key findings from the report:

  • Little Rock-Pine Bluff, New Orleans and New York are the three most expensive cities.
  • Denver, Houston and Atlanta are the three least expensive cities.
  • Texas is the only state with two cities – Houston and Dallas – that appear on either list.

Let’s take a look at how location plays a role in prescription drug prices. Here are the most expensive cities for drug medications, according to GoodRx.

City% Above National Average
Little Rock-Pine Bluff, AR19.1%
New Orleans, LA17.9%
New York, NY17.6%
Milwaukee, WI16.2%
Lexington, KY15.0%

Let’s take a look at the least expensive cities for prescription drugs, according to GoodRx.

City% Above the National Average
Denver, CO-36.9%
Houston, TX-26.5%
Atlanta, GA-21.3%
Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX -16.7%
Tampa-St. Pete (Sarasota), FL -14.4%

No matter where you live, here are some ways you can save money on your prescription drugs.

3 Ways To Lower Your Prescription Drug Costs

1. Comparison Shop

It can’t be overstated how much it pays to comparison shop for your medications.


As Clark said earlier, drug prices can suddenly spike for many different reasons. That’s why it’s important to comparison shop.

Resource: How To Comparison Shop Your Medications

2. Go Generic

Clark suggests showing your doctor a list of generic medications that could work as an alternative to the brand-name drug he or she may prescribe for you.

“Doctors have no idea what prescriptions cost. So a doctor will write a prescription based on what they think is the best thing for you.

“But maybe you can find something just about as good that instead of costing $100 will cost you $4. That’s a big difference!”

GoodRX is a website and app that Clark uses to find generic prescription drug prices as low as $4.

3. Ask for the ‘Without Insurance’ Price

Sometimes, it’s actually cheaper to pay out of pocket for your medication than going through your insurance plan.

It won’t hurt to ask the pharmacist to ring up your medication with and without insurance. Clark says, if it’s cheaper without getting your insurance involved, go for it!

Looking for more ways to save? Read our guide on how to save on prescription drugs.