Some Americans are making sacrifices and taking risks to afford their meds   Rising drug prices have become a public health crisis, forcing too many Americans into making some tough choices. In a recent Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs’ poll of 1,037 U.S. adults who currently take a prescription medication, one third said they were hit with higher drug prices at the pharmacy counter in the past year. And while the average increase was $39 extra out-of-pocket, one in 10 reported paying $100 or more over what they’d previously paid. Those higher prices led nearly 40 percent of people to take potentially harmful risks with their medication in order to curb costs, including skipping filling a prescription, skipping a dosage, cutting pills in half

without a doctor or pharmacist’s OK, and even taking expired meds.     While people facing unexpected high costs were more than twice as likely to avoid seeing their doctor or forego a medical procedure than those who didn’t, the financial setbacks affected more than their health. Perhaps the most troubling cutback: A third (32 percent) of poll respondents paying higher prices said they spent less on groceries. And in the last six months alone, 42 percent of people facing higher drug costs also experienced other financial setbacks, including missing payments on major bills and not being able to afford medical bills, medications or gasoline for their car.  Forty percent of poll respondents reported spending less on entertainment and dining out in the past year, and…

Plus: How to lower your drug costs Americans take a lot of medicines – and many resort to risky behaviors to afford them. That’s according to a recent national telephone poll by public-education project Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs.  Forty-four percent of Americans take an average of 4.5 prescription drugs; 16 percent say they take 7 or more. To afford those medications, more than half (57 percent) of those polled reported taking steps in the last year—some of them potentially dangerous—to curb high drug costs. That included not filling a prescription (17 percent), skipping a scheduled dose (14 percent), and taking an expired medication (14 percent). The cost of medications affect people’s wallets in other ways, too. Three in 10 (29 percent) reported cutting

back on entertainment and dining out; 19 percent spent less on groceries, and 15 percent put off paying other bills in order to afford their prescription drugs. And, people without drug coverage from their insurance were hit the hardest. What to do if you face high costs Don’t wait for your doctor to bring up the cost of medications—he or she may not. Instead,  ask about generics, whether you can stop taking drugs you no longer need, and whether it’s safe to split your pills in half. Also ask about over-the-counter options and nondrug treatments since some may be safer and less expensive over time, and might work just as well as prescription medications. For example, Consumer Reports’ subscribers said in a survey they found massage,…