Generic drug prices in British Columbia are dropping Friday. But you may have to shop around if you want the best bargains.

CTV viewer Pat Loke gets four prescriptions every three months. She wondered how prices might differ between pharmacies so she checked dispensing fees. Loke was surprised by what she found.

"Very much so, because I thought they should all be the same," she said.

Pat found Costco had the lowest fee, just $4.49.

London Drugs' fee was next lowest at $9.10, as was the Bay downtown.

Save-On-Foods and Safeway were $9.60. Shoppers Drug Mart was $11.60 and Pharmasave was $13.99.

Though prices may vary in your neighbourhood, so you should check locally.  

With 16 prescriptions to fill every year, Loke likes the idea of saving a few dollars on each one, so she did some more research.

"[I] also checked on the actual cost of the medication," she said.

She found prices of the actual drugs vary widely too. For example, the price for a three-month supply of Crestor ranged from $128 to $151. Adalat from $88 to $109.

The reason is companies that buy in huge quantities, directly from the manufacturer get a better price. Those that buy smaller amounts through a wholesaler pay more.

Regardless of where you shop, on Oct. 15 prices for half of the prescriptions in B.C. will be dropping. The provincial government has negotiated lower generic drug prescription prices.

"Insurance plans, government plans, cash-paying customers -- everybody will receive that same price," John Tse, the vice-president of pharmacy at London Drugs, said.

For example, at London Drugs the cost of 100 Ramipril high blood pressure pills falls from $52.50 to $40 plus the dispensing fee.

London Drugs has already made the change for its customers and generic drug prices will drop even further over the next 18 months.

Pharmacists are also going to be providing expanded services which may be even more important to you than the price of drugs. If you do switch pharmacies -- the Pharmanet program ensures every pharmacy in B.C. knows your drug history for the past 18 months and your allergies, but you'll have to tell them if you have other special needs.

With a report from CTV British Columbia's Chris Olsen