WASHINGTON, D.C. (Consumer Reports) -- If you've ever skipped a dose of medication or taken expired drugs to save money, you are putting yourself in harm's way.
And, a new survey by Consumer Reports shows more Americans are doing just that to deal with the high cost of medicine.
Almost half of all American adults take prescription medications regularly. But for common problems like allergies, acid reflux or those pesky aches and pains, the best fix may be in your medicine cabinet.
"Our analysis shows that many over-the-counter medications work just as well or better than prescription drugs for a whole host of ailments," says Dr. John Santa, with Consumer Reports.
Nexium and Prevacid are popular scripts. But Tums or generic antacids cost a lot less, and can relieve the occasional heartburn. And, for serious cases, there are over-the-counter options, too.
"Even if you've been diagnosed with acid reflux or GERD, research shows that over-the-counter Prilosec or Prevacid work just as effectively as pricier prescription drugs," says Dr. Santa.
Generic omeprazole can save you as much has $192 a month. And, if you're an allergy sufferer, pills like Claritin, Alavert, Zyrtec and their generics are just as effective as the prescription drugs Astepro, Clarinex and Xyzal.
The savings: up to $148 a month.
If joint pain has you down, Celebrex may be the one option. But OTC's like Advil ... Tylenol ... Aleve and their generics can get the job done too. And, the savings there, $256 a month.
Whichever option you choose, call your doctor if your symptoms continue for more than 10 days.
And, one last money saver for you. Consumer Reports sent out a team of secret shoppers to find the best price on 43 popular OTC's.
Walmart had the lowest prices on most drugs and Target was a close second.