Posts Tagged ‘drugs’

Online Purchasing of Medications-Let the Buyer Be Aware

November 27, 2013

No one knows what the Affordable Care Act will provide in the near future. One thing we know for sure is that the cost of prescription medicine will continue to rise. As a result many Americans are buying their medications online and overseas.

Though technically illegal, millions of Americans buy prescription drugs from overseas pharmacies to save money. But the practice can be a huge gamble.
The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, a professional group, reviewed over 10,000 Internet drug outlets and found that many sold fake or unapproved drugs. Some that claimed to be Canadian pharmacies actually sold medicines from developing countries where regulations are weak and counterfeit drugs are common.

Only 2 to 3 percent of online pharmacies are legitimate. When buying Canadian look for outlets certified by the Canadian International Pharmacy Association, a trade group of Canadian pharmacies, or those certified by PharmacyChecker.com, a free website that verifies that the foreign sites it approves protect consumer information and meet quality standards.

A study analyzing 372 orders of five popular prescription drugs – Lipitor, Celebrex, Viagra, Nexium and Zoloft – that were purchased from 79 domestic and foreign online drug outlets. Products bought from Canadian or other foreign sites certified by C.I.P.A. or PharmacyChecker.com were of high quality. So were products ordered from American sites verified by either the N.A.B.P. or LegitScript.com, a certification agency founded by a former White House aide on drug policy issues.

But that was not the case for sites that were not certified by any of these four groups. Many of the drugs they sold were fakes, including about a quarter of the Viagra samples, which largely appeared to have originated in China.

You can’t be 100% certain with any sites, frankly, but you are running a much lower risk if you buy from a credentialed site.

Bottom Line: You get what you pay for. If it’s significantly cheaper, there’s probably reason for the decreased cost. I suggest you buy drugs, like heart drugs, blood pressure medication, and medication for treating diabetes, from credible and reliable sources.

This article was excerpted from an article, Is it Safe To Buy Drugs From Online Pharmacies In Canada? by Anhad O’Connor, NYT, November 12, 2013

When Medicines Make You Sick

September 11, 2011

Most middle age and older men and women take more than one medication on a regular basis. Unfortunately these medications can interact with each other and produce undesired effects; sometimes the side effects are worse than the disease or condition that the original medication was intended to treat. It is estimated that 4.5 million Americans will return to the doctor’s office or even have to go to the emergency room because of the side effects of medication. There are an estimated 2 million serious drug reactions each year and drug reactions are the fourth leading cause of hospital deaths exceeding only by heart disease, cancer and stroke.

Side effects can produce symptoms ranging from lethargy, insomnia, muscle aches, depression, dizziness, diarrhea, constipation, and even chest paid.

So what can you do to avoid side effects of medications? First be sure your doctor knows what medications you are currently taking. Ask if the drug he is prescribing has any interactions with the drugs you are currently taking. There are computer programs that are available that will alert the doctor of any possible drug interactions. One of the most popular programs is e-Pocrates where the doctor or nurse can write in the drug being prescribed and the drug(s) the patient is currently taking and will list any potential drug interactions. Most electronic medical record programs that are becoming so prevalent among physicians’ practices will notify the doctor of any potential drug interactions.
Also, you can go to the Internet and use one of the search engines such as Google and type in the name of the medication and the phrase “drug interactions” and you will learn what drugs should not be taken together. There are drug interaction checkers available online. One of the best is aarp.org/healthtools.

Next, ask the doctor what are the most common side effects and what is the likelihood of having any of the side effects. If the medical problem is not serious and not incapacitating, you may decide to forgo any new medications.

Also, ask your doctor if there are any lifestyle changes you can make as an alternative to taking medications. For example, if you have newly diagnosed high blood pressure, you can undergo a weight loss program and significantly reduce the salt in your diet, and you may avoid taking blood pressure lowering medications, which have side effects.

If you are taking multiple medications, you can ask your pharmacist to review all of your medications and the pharmacist will let you know which drugs are incompatible. Some pharmacists will charge you a few for this review but it is certainly worth it especially if you are older and if you take multiple medications. Also, if you are in a Medicare Advantage program, you may qualify for its medications therapy management services.

If you begin to experience a change or symptoms shortly after starting a new medication, you should contact the doctor’s office and speak to the doctor or nurse to find out if this is an expected side effect, how long it might last, or if the side effect is more serious and the drug should be discontinued.

It is also important to mention to your doctor any supplements, herbal medications, or vitamins that you routinely take as these may interact with your prescribed medications.

Final advice: Even if you are experiencing side effects due to medications, don’t stop taking the medication without calling your doctor first.

Bottom Line: For the most part drugs properly prescribed can be very helpful and will alleviate symptoms and treat your medical condition. However, all medications have side effects and you can minimize these side effects by being knowledgeable and informed about drugs and drug side effects.

How Safe Are Expired Drugs?-The Truth Will Set Your Medications Free

March 20, 2011

By Richard Altschuler:

Does the expiration date on a bottle of a medication mean anything? If a bottle of Tylenol, for example, says something like “Do not use after June 1998,” and it is August 2002, should you take the Tylenol? Should you discard it? Can you get hurt if you take it? Will it simply have lost its potency and do you no good?

 In other words, are drug manufacturers being honest with us when they put an expiration date on their medications, or is the practice of dating just another drug industry scam, to get us to buy new medications when the old ones that purportedly have “expired” are still perfectly good?
  These are the pressing questions I investigated after my mother-in-law recently said to me, “It doesn’t mean anything,” when I pointed out that the Tylenol she was about to take had “expired” 4 years and a few months ago. I was a bit mocking in my pronouncement — feeling superior that I had noticed the chemical corpse in her cabinet — but she was equally adamant in her reply, and is generally very sage about medical issues.

 So I gave her a glass of water with the purportedly “dead” drug, of which she took 2 capsules for a pain in the upper back. About a half hour later she reported the pain seemed to have eased up a bit. I said “You could be having a placebo effect,” not wanting to simply concede she was right about the drug, and also not actually knowing what I was talking about. I was just happy to hear that her pain had eased.

First, the expiration date, required by law in the United States, beginning in 1979, specifies only the date the manufacturer guarantees the full potency and safety of the drug — it does not mean how long the drug is actually “good” or safe to use.

Second, medical authorities uniformly say it is safe to take drugs past their expiration date — no matter how “expired” the drugs purportedly are. Except for possibly the rarest of exceptions, you won’t get hurt and you certainly won’t get killed.

Studies show that expired drugs may lose some of their potency over time, from as little as 5% or less to 50% or more (though usually much less than the latter). Even 10 years after the “expiration date,” most drugs have a good deal of their original potency. So wisdom dictates that if your life does depend on an expired drug, and you must have 100% or so of its original strength, you should probably toss it and get a refill, ” If your life does not depend on an expired drug — such as that for headache, hay fever, or menstrual cramps — take it and see what happens.

 

In light of these results, a former director of the testing program, Francis Flaherty, said he concluded that expiration dates put on by manufacturers typically have no bearing on whether a drug is usable for longer. Mr. Flaherty noted that a drug maker is required to prove only that a drug is still good on whatever expiration date the company chooses to set. The expiration date doesn’t mean, or even suggest, that the drug will stop being effective after that, nor that it will become harmful. “Manufacturers put expiration dates on for marketing, rather than scientific, reasons,” said Mr. Flaherty, a pharmacist at the FDA until his retirement in 1999. “It’s not profitable for them to have products on a shelf for 10 years. They want turnover.”

The FDA cautioned there isn’t enough evidence from the program, which is weighted toward drugs used during combat, to conclude most drugs in consumers’ medicine cabinets are potent beyond the expiration date. Joel Davis, however, a former FDA expiration-date compliance chief, said that with a handful of exceptions — notably nitroglycerin, insulin, and some liquid antibiotics — most drugs are probably as durable as those the agency has tested for the military. “Most drugs degrade very slowly,” he said. “In all likelihood, you can take a product you have at home and keep it for many years. ”

 

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.