Prescription Drug Classes and Discount Drug Cards

pharmacist handing out a script

In the United States, prescription medication is categorized by the Food and Drug Administration into classes. Discount drug cards, or coupons, can help consumers like you save money at your pharmacy across all drug classifications.

So we thought it might be helpful to create a series of articles on some of the drug classifications that are, broadly speaking, utilized to a large extent by discount programs like ours. At the same time, you can see which drugs are in which classification for yourself. If you are contemplating a switch in medication – which always must be approved by your provider (doctor or other professional) including writing a new prescription – then you can look here to get an idea of which other drugs may be a match and what they cost. If you then bring that information back to your physician you might be suprised at the results. Doctor's do not always know the price of medication since there are so many insurance drug plans out there and others that are uninsured. By sharing this information with your health care professional you may be able to find an option that will be effective in treating your condition while at the same time not breaking the bank.

In recent years certain classes of drugs that include some of the more controversial prescription medications have been harder to obtain discounts for at retail pharmacies. Many times this is due to the psychological and physical dependence and other medications with addictive charactoristics. A number of states have begun cracking down on individuals that doctor-shop to accumulate more of a prescription than is needed. All of this has meant proactive policy changes by some pharmacy chains which may not accept any discount card for certain addictive prescriptions.

I first encountered this in 2012 in speaking with the staff at Lynn's Pharmacy in Waco, TX. I spoke to the staff there and they outlined the problems they were having getting a handle on this situation and why they would have to stop accepting coupons for that class of drug. Made sense then. Makes sense now.

Luckily, those prescription discount card acceptance issues are limited to a small number of problematic medications. The good news is that some of the best performing discounts are available for the most common conditions including blood pressure, chronic pain, heart medication, cholesterol-lowering statins and more.

Some of what we cover in these articles include common questions such as side effects, drugs found in each class, what they do, conditions that they provide relief for, risks and more.

PLEASE NOTE: That we are not medical professionals, some of this information may be incomplete and you should always consult with a medical professional regarding all questions related to your health.

Here is our most recent write-ups:


  • Penicillins are a class of drugs with antibiotic properties that prevent bacteria from growing. Penicillins are used to treat ear infections, tonsillitis, bronchitis, pneumonia, urinary tract infections, skin infections, gonorrhea, laryngitis and throat infections. Penicillin G and Ampicillin are examples of this group.
  • Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) are a class of drugs used to treat pain, fever, inflammation, muscle aches, headaches, menstrual cramps, gout, dental pain, arthritis, and injuries. NSAIDs may need to be avoided by anyone with certain medical histories, especially gastro-intestinal issues.
  • HMG- COA Reductase Inhibitors are a class of drugs most commonly referred to as statins and are used for lowering cholesterol. They work by blocking an enzyme in the liver that helps make cholesterol.
  • Beta-Adrenergic Blocking Agents (Beta Blockers) are a class of drugs used to reduce systolic heart pressure, heart rate and the heart’s demand for oxygen.
  • Benzodiazepines belong to a class of drugs used as sedatives, anticonvulsants and muscle relaxants, as well as for anxiety, seizures, panic disorders, agitation, insomnia, and alcohol dependency. They can be habit forming and long-term use is not encouraged.
  • Antitussives are a class of drugs used to suppress coughing by blocking the cough reflex. Commonly purchased over the counter is dextromethorphan (example: Delsym).
  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors (ACE Inhibitors), belongs to a class of drugs used to control high blood pressure, prevent strokes, and prevent kidney damage in those with high blood pressure or diabetes, to treat scleroderma and for migraines.
  • Opiate Agonists are a class of drugs that help stop pain, stop coughing and bronchial spasms, sedate patients, and treat drug addiction and withdrawal. These drugs act like opiates (heroin, etc.) but their purpose is to avoid drug addiction. Contraceptives belong to a class of drugs used to prevent pregnancy but can be prescribed to treat heavy menstrual periods, regulate periods or for painful periods, and acne.
  • Antidepressants are a class of drugs used for depression. They also treat anxiety, panic attacks, posttraumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder, bulimia, chronic pain, bedwetting, and nerve pain.
  • Contraceptives belong to a class of drugs used to prevent pregnancy but can be prescribed to treat heavy menstrual periods, regulate periods or for painful periods, and acne.
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