Archive for the ‘Prescriptions’ Category

Prescribed Pills – Don’t Take Two and Then Call in the Morning!

January 4, 2015

Millions of Americans take prescribed medications. Yet few patients ask about the medications, the purpose, if there are drug interactions with their existing medications, the cost, and most important of all, the side effects of the medications. This blog will discuss the questions you should ask your doctor when you are given a new prescription.

One study reported that doctors spent an average of 12 seconds talking about a new medication’s side effects, and in another report, fewer than 50% of physicians covered the topic of side effects at all.

Luckily, doctors love to answer questions. If you can guide the conversation with relevant questions, you’ll (1) get better information, (2) participate in the decision, and (3) leave with confidence instead of confusion about your new prescription.
Before you walk out the door with that new prescription I suggest that you do the following:
• Ask for the generic name as well as the trade name of the medication?
• What does it do? (conditions it treats, how it works)
• What are the benefits? For example:
Does it just lower your blood sugar or cholesterol, or has it actually been shown to prevent strokes, heart attacks, or other health events? There are some drugs that just change your lab results without altering your health risks and you may not want to treat your numbers on a lab report.
How many people taking the drug does it actually help? (Drugs have varying rates of response — for example, 50% for many anti depressant meds.)
What are the risks?
How many people taking the drug have side effects?
What side effects are common? Are they temporary?
Any severe side effects?
What side effects should you call your doctor about if you have them?
Are there alternatives?
◦ Other types of medications
◦ Drug-free alternatives. (Exercise is more effective than drugs at reducing your risk of death from certain causes.)
How do you take it?
Does it interact with any of your current health conditions, other medications, supplements, foods, or alcohol?
Timing: How long does it take to start working? Can you stop taking it if you feel better?
What if you miss a dose?
Is any monitoring required? (Some medications can affect kidney function, for example, so it’s checked periodically with a blood test.)
How much does it cost? Is there a generic version available?

Bottom Line: If you are armed with these questions and ask your doctor and get answers to these important questions, then you will be a better informed and a healthier patient.

Advertisements

Tricks and Tips for Saving Money On Prescriptions

September 29, 2013

I truly recognize that prescription medicines are costly and often beyond the reach of many patients. I am often amazed at how expensive prescribed medications are and how the price is so variable from one pharmacy to another. Here are a few tricks and trips to save money on your prescription medications.

1. Price compare between pharmacies. Prices can be double and even triple from different pharmacies. Generic medicine prices vary more than branded/trademarked medicine prices.

For example a Z-pack 5 day antibiotic (generic) Costco- $11 OR Kmart- $55
Tricyclen birth control (generic) Target- $9 OR Osco- $33
Suggestion: call the pharmacies yourself and find out which one is offering the lowest price. The pharmacy tech or the pharmacist will give you the price over the phone. You need to be able to tell the pharmacist the strength and quantity of the medication.
Another idea: Take your “combo pill” as two separate pills. If you are taking a medication that is a combination of medicines, consider taking it as two separate pills. For example if you have an elnlarge prostate gland and the doctor has presicrbed a pill that combines two medications such as an alpha blocker and a pill to decrease the size of the prostate gland, you can ask the doctor to prescribe both drugs and you take two pills instead of one at a much reduced cost. If you are not sure if you are taking a “combo pill” try Googling the name to find out. Usually you can save money by taking the meds separately (even if there is a generic version of your combo med!)
Lotrel (generic) 10/20, #30 tabs – $81 per month OR amlodipine 10 mg, #30 tabs + benazepril 20 mg, #30 tabs= $8 + $6 = $14 per month.
Change the dosing schedule of your medication. If you are taking a medication that ends with “XL”, “XR”, “CD”, or “SR”- then you are probably taking a long acting, albeit expensive version of your medicine. Therefore, there is probably a short- acting generic version of your medication also available. The trade off would be that you might have to take a pill two or three times a day instead of once or twice a day but at a significant saving. If your doctor thinks this is appropriate for you, it could save you big bucks.
Rythmol SR 225 mg, #60 tabs (taken twice a day)- $367/month OR propafenone (generic Rythmol) 225 mg #100 tabs (taken three times a day)- $34/month

Bottom Line: Prescription medications are expensive. However, there are effective ways to reduce the costs without negatively impacting your health.

Pie In the Sky Supplements to Make the Penis Larger

November 2, 2010

Many men are receiving unsolicited mailings offering to treat impotence and make their penis inches longer.  One of the most common advertisers is “Smiling Bob” who is hawking Enzyte. Early ads promised that Enzyte would add as much as three inches to the length of the user’s penis.   Web site testimonials also claim such benefits as allowing stronger, firmer, and easier-to-achieve erections, assisting in maintaining a fully hard erection, providing full and satisfying erections, and reversing the normal erectile problems of aging.  Enzyte contains many ingredients, NONE of which is FDA-proven to be safe or effective in accomplishing its advertised purposes. These ingredients include niacin, zinc, copper, Korean red ginseng root, ginkgo, pine bark, Tribulus terrestris, arginine, Avena sativa, horny goat weed, maca root, muira puama, saw palmetto, and Swedish flower pollen.

Lack of evidence about the safety and efficacy of dietary supplements exposes the consumer to unknown health hazards, as these products use ingredients that are of unknown therapeutic benefit. Enzyte, Berkeley Nutraceuticals, was reported in 2004 by a Cincinnati newspaper to be the subject of over 3,700 consumer complaints. The U.S. Department of Justice indicted Enzyte for bilking Americans of at least $100 million.

Bottom Line:  Men, be happy with what you have.  The size of the penis is rarely associated with increased intensity of sexual satisfaction for either you or your partner.  I strongly recommend you toss these unsolicited offerings where they belong….in the trash!

How To Become a Better Patient-You Need to Ask the Vital Questions

May 10, 2010

It is not easy being a patient.  Most patients are nervous and anxious when visiting a doctor and often forget to ask vital questions that will impact their health.  Here are six questions that you should ask your physician when he\she prescribes a new medication:

1.  What does this medication do?  What is the purpose of the medication?

2. How will I know if the medication is working?  Can you tell me about how long I will have to wait before the medication begins to work?

3. What are the side effects of this medication?  What should I do if I experience these side effects?  How common are these side effects?

4. Why is this medication good or effective for my condition?

5. Are there any other non-medication alternatives that I could try that may do the same as the medication?

6. What are the consequences of not taking this medication?

7. Is this a new drug?  Would a less expensive generic drug work just as well?

By asking these questions, you will demonstrate to your doctor that you are actively involved in your medical care.  You now become a part of the “team” and there is no one who should be more interested in your care than you.