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Watching Your Wallet and Influenza

PRICES:

By Robin Freedberg

With the influenza season just around the corner, and presumably hundreds of wonder-drug prescriptions looming in the near future, be forewarned that you are likely to find your pocketbook plagued, as well as your body.

A study issued by UHS earlier this week disclosed that prices of some prescription drugs are three times higher at Harvard Square pharmacies than at other Cambridge drug stores further from the Square.

The report said the three stores located in Inman Square -- Star Drugs, Inman Square Drugs and Skendarian Drugs -- usually quote lower prices than the Harvard Square area pharmacies -- Chester Baker Pharmacy, Shepard Drugs, Colonial Drugs, Billings and Stover and the College House Pharmacy.

They surveyed the prices of 14 drugs commonly prescribed by physicians at UHS including antibiotics, tranquilizers and antihistimines.

The UHS survey was conducted at the request of Howard W. Davis, general manager of the Coop, to assess the prices of drugs at Chester Baker, which has an arrangement with the Coop whereby Coop members can receive a rebate on drugs purchased there.

The survey report noted that most druggists are willing to meet or to undersell competitors with a lower price obtained elsewhere by a prospective customer.

UHS is considering the establishment of its own pharmacy as a possible solution to floating drug prices. It is currently investigating what personnel would be needed to staff efficiently such a service.

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