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Are You Adhering to Your Prescription Drug Regimen?

March 28, 2013 By: Nadia Category: HealthCare, Medicine Advice, Medtipster, Prescription News, Prescription Savings

Adhering to medication means taking the medication correctly, as instructed by a health care professional. This includes filling and refilling the prescription, taking it regularly, and continuing to take it for as long as prescribed. While this may seem simple, the World Health Organization has reported an average medication adherence rate of only 50 percent for people with chronic illnesses in developed countries. So, why is only half of the population taking their medicines as prescribed? Moreover, why is it important to adhere to your medication regimen anyway? Read on to find out why it’s important and how you can improve your adherence.

Why Adherence Matters?

Simply put, it can improve your overall quality of life. Evidence suggests that for many chronic illnesses, higher medication adherence reduces hospital visits. Fewer visits to the hospital mean lower medical costs as well.

Adherence to medication may be ‘easier said than done’ for many people. There are a variety of barriers that may make it difficult for patients to follow their medication therapy. Here are a few of those barriers and suggestions for how to get around them.

Cost

Often times, patients just cannot afford their medications. Perhaps there are alternative drugs available that do not cost as much. Talk with your prescriber or pharmacist. They may be able to help you find a more affordable drug.

You can also visit the Medtipster website, www.medtipster.com, to determine the cost of a prescription. The tool can help you compare the price on related drug products.

Side Effects

Your medicine may trigger unpleasant side effects, causing you to stop taking it. Talk to your doctor about these side effects. They may be able to switch you to a different medicine to reduce the side effects. They may also have suggestions for minimizing the side effects. Your doctor has your best interest in mind and is a knowledgeable resource to help improve your quality of life.

Feeling Better

There are five pills left, but you started to feel better and decided to stop taking your medicine. Before you stop, talk to your prescriber. Stopping early may cause more health problems. For instance, if a patient has a bacterial infection and stops taking his or her medicine early, some bacteria may still be alive. These bacteria could start a whole new strain of resistant germs. (U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 2009). Even though you may feel better, try to continue to take your medicine(s).

Forgetfulness

Make taking your medicine a part of your daily routine. Once you are used to taking your medicines regularly, it will not seem like a burden on your lifestyle. Buying a pill minder dispenser may help; it’s an easy daily reminder to take your medicine. Write down a schedule of when to take your medicines or add it to the calendar on your electronic device.

Health Care Beliefs and Attitudes

Some patients hold certain beliefs or attitudes that stop them from being adherent to their medication regimen. For example, a patient may believe that taking a medication as prescribed will not lead to a predicted outcome or that a particular disease state is not significant or will not lead to severe untoward outcomes. Talk with your prescriber about your beliefs. He or she may have more information about your illness and medicine than you know.  Your prescriber can tell you why it is in your best interest to adhere to taking your medicine(s).

Adhering to your medicine can improve your overall quality of life, so take care to adhere to your prescribed medication regimen. For a better result, you will be glad you attended to your health.

Tips for Traveling with Medications

December 06, 2011 By: Nadia Category: HealthCare, Medicine Advice, Medtipster, Prescription News, Prescription Savings

www.Medtipster.com Source: Eli Trathen 12.6.2011

Everyone looks forward to vacation, and a good deal of planning goes into most trips to make the experience as relaxing as possible. This planning may involve booking a hotel, purchasing traveler’s checks, and packing the sun block. However, one more concern that must be remembered affects millions of Americans. Namely, people need to be aware of how to travel with prescription medications, and what one should expect if the need for a prescription medication arises while away. When away from home for an extended time, it is advisable to think about your medications.

Before You Go
Prepare a list of all of your medications and a list of contact information for your doctor(s). Carry the name, location, and phone number of your pharmacy as well. If questions arise about your medications, or if you lose your prescription, you will have the needed information.

If you are flying, keep your medications in your carry-on luggage. That way, you will have access to them during your flight and will not lose them if your luggage is lost. Also, keeping your medications with you helps prevent exposure to extreme temperatures in the baggage compartment. Extreme temperatures can change the drug’s effectiveness.

If travelling with needles and syringes, carry information that proves the syringes were prescribed for a medical reason by your doctor. A copy of your prescription and a label attached to the product is sufficient proof. The American Diabetes Association recommends that people with diabetes be prepared to provide airport security with copies of prescriptions for diabetes medications and supplies, as well as complete contact information for your doctor. Make sure all prescription medications have the name of the drug, the name of your doctor, and your name on the label.

Airport security requires that medications are transported in their original, labeled containers. The labeled vial from the pharmacy that contains your pills meets this requirement. Check the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) website prior to travel for the most up-to-date information about travelling with medications. Airport security may ask you to prove that the name on your prescription bottle(s) matches your identification. According to the TSA:

  • Medications must be labeled, so they are identifiable.
  • Medications in daily dosage containers are allowed through the checkpoint once they have been screened.
  • Medication and related supplies are normally X-rayed. TSA allows you the option of requesting a visual inspection of your medication and supplies, which you must arrange before the screening process begins. The X-ray process has not been found to affect drug products.

Long Distance Travel
Consult with your doctor or pharmacist if traveling over many time zones to work out a plan to adjust the timing or dosage of your medications. He or she will also be able to determine whether a plan is necessary given the medications you are taking.

If you are visiting a foreign country, be wary of buying over-the-counter (OTC) medications. Many medicines that are available by prescription only in the United States are available OTC in other countries. Beware of these medications, as they may have been manufactured in facilities that do not meet Food and Drug Administration code. You may receive a medication with less effectiveness; or, even worse, you may receive the wrong drug. Taking these medications could put you at risk.

Extra Medications
Take along more medication than the number of days of your trip. A good rule of thumb is to have at least an additional week of medication on-hand. Unexpected delays can happen, and it will be easier for you to have one less thing to worry about should this happen. It is best to have all of your medications refilled before you travel. If it is too early to get a refill before you leave, but you will need more medication while you are gone, ask your doctor and pharmacist if they will refill early as a special circumstance. If you are not leaving the country, remember that large, national pharmacy chains allow you to refill your prescription wherever you happen to travel nationwide.

While You’re There
If you are visiting a hot, humid climate, try to keep your medications in a cool, dry place and out of direct sunlight. While many people assume bathrooms are a good place to store medications, this is not necessarily true. The heat and humidity in bathrooms can cause a drug to lose effectiveness. Be aware of medication storage requirements for the medications you take on your trip. All medications are labeled with an ideal range of temperatures for storage. Some medications require refrigeration when stored. This may be done by packing the medication in a small cooler with ice and a thermometer to ensure the temperature is kept at an appropriate level. Likewise, you may ask your hotel if a small refrigerator is available to help with your drug storage. Check with your doctor or pharmacist about the best method of travelling with these more sensitive drugs.

Another climate consideration is increased sensitivity to sunlight. Some medications can cause a rare side effect, called photosensitivity, which could cause inflammation of the skin (similar to sunburn). Products like ciprofloxacin (for infections), Bactrim and doxycycline (antibiotics), and diclofenac (for pain) have this potential. Ask your pharmacist if any of the medications you are or may take on vacation could cause photosensitivity. Try to avoid excessive sun exposure, and cover up with SPF 30 or greater sunblock.

Hopefully, using the above tips for traveling with medications will allow you the relaxation you deserve on your next vacation.

Don’t stop taking your medication!

September 28, 2011 By: PharmaSueAnn Category: Medtipster

An annual survey conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center found that 48% of adults admitted skipping or delaying medication or other health care services to save money, up from 39% in 2010.

Visit Medtipser.com to stretch your healthcare dollars.

Citrus Fruits and Medications

August 03, 2011 By: PharmaSueAnn Category: Medicine Advice

Citrus fruits especially grapefruit should be avoided when taking many medications, including those purchased over-the-counter.  Do not take these interactions lightly, some can cause potentially dangerous health problems.  Certain chemicals that grapefruit and other citrus fruits contain can interfere with the enzymes that metabolize various medications in our digestive tracts.  If you are uncertain to how you should take your medication(s) consult with your local pharmacist.

Consumer alert regarding MERIDIA

November 19, 2010 By: PharmaSueAnn Category: Medtipster

MERIDIA, has been removed from the market because the cardiovascular risk outweighed it benefits.   Dispose of any remaining medication by mixing the contents of the capsules in coffee grinds.

Prescription for success: Ask your pharmacist

August 12, 2010 By: Nadia Category: HealthCare, Medicine Advice, Medtipster, Prescription News

www.Medtipster.com Source: LA Times – Author: Karen Ravn

Here’s a list of questions that you should pose before taking your medications home.

You’re tired, hungry, cranky, and you’ve been waiting in line forever. Now your pharmacist is offering to discuss your new prescription — the last thing on earth you want to do.

Do it anyway.

The warnings and descriptions on the obligatory information sheet are meant only for a general audience. Your pharmacist can offer pertinent details — and emphasize the aspects most important for you.

So don’t go home without getting answers to these questions:

What is the medication for?

In other words, make sure you get what you think you’re getting. Mistakes happen. If the medication the pharmacist prepares for you is a fertility drug and what you wanted were birth control pills, this is a prime time to find out.

What is the name of the medication?

Physicians don’t always tell patients the name of the drug they’re prescribing, and patients don’t always remember when they do. It’s not enough to know you’re taking “these big fat horrible-tasting pink things” twice a day. Your dentist, your insurance agent, the on-duty physician in an ER — all might need the actual name of your medication. You should know it.

How should you take the medication?

Some medications should be taken with food. Some should be taken only when you’re standing up. Some (especially those that are enteric-coated or designed for controlled release) can be harmful — even fatal — if they’re crushed. Only if you know the best way to take your medication can you hope to have the best results.

When should you take the medication?

Some drugs should be taken in the morning. Some should be taken at bedtime. And with some, precise timing is more crucial than with others. For example, if you’re supposed to take a pill twice a day, it would probably be OK to take it at 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. But that schedule wouldn’t be OK if you’re supposed to take a pill every 12 hours.

What is your medication supposed to do — and how soon is it supposed to do it?

If you’re coughing and sneezing and feeling achy all over, should you expect the medication to stop all this bad stuff or just some of it? If your medication is supposed to make your migraine go away, should you expect the pain to ease in five minutes? Five hours? Five days? Unless you know how — and how fast — your medication is supposed to act, you have no way to know if it’s working.

What should you do if you miss a dose?

In general, it depends on how much you miss it by, says Jeff Goad, associate professor at the USC School of Pharmacy. If you’re supposed to take a dose every eight hours and you remember half an hour late, it’s probably OK to take it right away and then resume your regular schedule with the next dose. On the other hand, if you don’t remember until half an hour before you’re due to take the next dose, you shouldn’t try to make up for the dose you missed. But medications vary, and it’s best to find out about your own specifically.

Should you keep taking the medication until it’s all gone or just until your symptoms go away?

It’s important to keep taking some medications, especially antibiotics, until you’ve used them all up, even if you feel better before that. You can take other medications only “as needed” — i.e., only when you’re experiencing the problem they’re supposed to treat. Other medications are for chronic conditions and are meant to be taken over the long term, perhaps for life.

Is it safe to stop taking the medication whenever you want?

If your medication is intended to make your broken arm hurt less and you stop taking it, your arm will probably hurt more — but probably nothing worse than that will happen. If your medication is an antibiotic intended to cure a bacterial infection and you stop taking it before you finish the full course, some bacteria will probably survive and multiply and may make you sick again. Plus you may be contributing to the rise of antibiotic resistance — since the bacteria that did survive (and multiply) will be the ones most resistant to the antibiotic.

It may be even less wise to stop taking other medications abruptly on your own. If you suddenly stop taking a medication meant to lower your blood pressure, for example, your blood pressure could spike dangerously.

What side effects should you watch out for?

In addition to the effects you want your medications to have — making your blood pressure go down or your energy level go up — drugs may have effects you’d rather they didn’t, such as making you fall asleep in a meeting with your boss. Some side effects are more common than others, and some are more serious. You need to know which are which, how you can avoid them (if possible) and what you can and should do about them if they occur. For example, the standard recommendation for medications that make you drowsy is to avoid driving or operating heavy machinery.

What interactions should you watch out for?

If you’re already taking any over-the-counter medications, herbal remedies, dietary supplements or other prescription drugs, or if you drink alcohol, your new medication might act in undesirable ways. It could be ineffective. It could be dangerous. There are ways to avoid some bad interactions, such as scheduling your doses appropriately. And there are times when the medications themselves should be avoided.

How should you store the medication?

Proper storage will ensure that your medication is as effective as possible. Usually this means in a cool, dry, dark place. Sometimes it means in the refrigerator or freezer. But for the most part it means not in the medicine cabinet in your bathroom, where conditions are often warm and moist.

Is there a way to save money on your prescription?

Physicians tend to underestimate the price of expensive drugs and overestimate the price of inexpensive ones, according to a study published in the journal PLoS Medicine in 2007. So they may not always have a very good idea of how much the drugs they prescribe are going to cost their patients. Often pharmacists can suggest changes or substitutions for prescribed medications that will save patients money.

In California, if your physician prescribes a brand-name drug and you’d rather take a less expensive generic, your pharmacist can make the substitution without consulting the prescribing physician. To change to a different drug, however, pharmacists do need the physician’s approval. Even with a hefty financial incentive, patients are sometimes reluctant to take their pharmacists’ advice.

“They think what their physicians prescribed must be better or they wouldn’t have prescribed it,” says Kathy Besinque, an associate professor at the USC School of Pharmacy who also works part-time at Patton’s Pharmacy in Santa Monica. “But really, physicians have many choices that would work.”

“Some patients assume generic drugs are less effective than brand names,” says Julie Donohue, associate professor in the graduate school of public health at the University of Pittsburgh. In fact, generics contain the same amounts of active ingredients as do the brand names they are meant to be substituted for.

“As a pharmacist myself, I would take generics,” says Ken Thai, owner of El Monte Pharmacy in El Monte.

Cost issues can affect people’s insurance coverage. “Sometimes insurance plans won’t cover new medications,” Besinque says. “They want patients to try old, less expensive ones first.”

Besides recommending less expensive medications, pharmacists can help patients save money in other ways too. For example, a pill that’s twice as strong as the one your physician prescribed usually doesn’t cost twice as much, Besinque says. So if the double-strength pill can be split in half, you can get the same amount of medication for less. Similarly, for medication you take long-term, you can often save money by buying more pills at once — e.g., 60 pills probably won’t cost twice as much as 30.

Does your pharmacy provide any special services that will make your life easier?

Some pharmacies can package your medication in daily doses, making it easier to take the right amounts. CVS Pharmacies recently began a free program to make it easier to refill prescriptions you take for chronic conditions. If you sign up for the new service, the store will simply refill any such prescriptions automatically — and then call you to let you know they’re ready.

Remember: It’s never too late, and it’s never too dumb.

If you get home and start taking your new medication and only then think of a bunch of questions about it, not to worry. “You can call your pharmacist with any question about your prescription at any time,” says Anne Burns, vice president for professional affairs for the American Pharmacists Assn. In fact, it’s just natural to have more — and possibly more important — concerns after you’ve taken the medication for a while.

In any case, “there are no bad questions,” Thai says. “The more communication people have with their physician and pharmacist, the better. When people don’t say anything, that’s when we run into problems.”

Replace the “R” with a “T” and We’ve Got “Genetic” Drugs. Really?

March 02, 2010 By: Tylar Masters Category: Prescription News

Genetic testing could be the answer to lowering adverse side effects and ineffective prescriptions from doctor to patient.

You can get a personalized license plate. You can buy a personalized birthday card. You can even buy a personalized fortune cookie. And soon you could be buying a personalized prescription?

It happens a lot, a doctor prescribes a medication to a patient, and it simply doesn’t work. Then it’s back to the doctor, another prescription, in what feels like a “trial and error” situation. This could all soon be a thing of the past.

Genetic testing can determine a person’s reaction to a particular prescription medication. How some drugs cause adverse side effects in one group of people, and work wonders in other people, is strictly a matter of a gene group difference found between the two groups of people. Imagine if doctors knew before writing a prescription exactly how the medication would affect the patient. Problem gone!

Individualized treatment of prescription medication sounds complicated. However, the big drug companies support this theory that personalized medications would cut costs and ineffective prescriptions dispensing. What are your thoughts? If a simple genetic test would clarify which prescriptions will work best for you, would you take the test?

Source: Boston.com http://www.boston.com/news/science/articles/2010/01/25/personalized_prescription/?page=1

Pharmacy Benefit Manager Fees Must Be Reported on Schedule C

February 22, 2010 By: Nadia Category: Medtipster, Prescription News

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, 2/2010

The Department of Labor published FAQs to supplement FAQs published in July 2008, and to provide further guidance in response to additional questions from plans and service providers on the requirements for reporting service provider fees and other compensation on the Schedule C of the 2009 Form 5500 Annual Return/Report of Employee Benefit Plan. Inquiries regarding these supplemental FAQs may be directed to EBSA’s Office of Regulations and Interpretations at 202.693.8523.

The new FAQs — numbers 26 and 27 — note that PBMs perform many services for which they are compensated, including services as a third-party administrator, claims processor, and developer of the plan’s formulary and pharmacy network. The FAQs make clear that fees for these services would be reportable as direct compensation on Schedule C.

Q26: Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) provide services to plans and are compensated for these services in various ways. How should this compensation be reported?

PBMs often act as third party administrators for ERISA plan prescription drug programs and perform many activities to manage their clients’ prescription drug insurance coverage. They are generally engaged to be responsible for processing and paying prescription drug claims. They can also be engaged to develop and maintain the plan’s formulary and assemble networks of retail pharmacies that a plan sponsor’s members can use to fill prescriptions. PBMs receive fees for these services that are reportable compensation for Schedule C purposes. For example, dispensing fees charged by the PBM for each prescription filled by its mail-order pharmacy, specialty pharmacy, or a pharmacy that is a member of the PBM’s retail network and paid with plan assets would be reportable as direct compensation. Likewise, administrative fees paid with plan assets, whether or not reflected as part of the dispensing fee, would be reportable direct compensation on the Schedule C. Payments by the plan or payments by the plan sponsor that are reimbursed by the plan for ancillary administrative services such as recordkeeping, data management and information reporting, formulary management, participant health desk service, benefit education, utilization review, claims adjudication, participant communications, reporting services, website services, prior authorization, clinical programs, pharmacy audits, and other services would also be reportable direct compensation.

Q27: PBMs may receive rebates or discounts from the pharmaceutical manufacturers based on the amount of drugs a PBM purchases or other factors. Do such rebates and discounts need to be reported as indirect compensation on Schedule C?

Because formulary listings will affect a drug’s sales, pharmaceutical manufacturers compete to ensure that their products are included on PBM formularies. For example, PBMs often negotiate discounts and rebates with drug manufacturers based on the drugs bought and sold by PBMs or dispensed under ERISA plans administered by a PBM. These discounts and rebates go under various names, for example, “formulary payments” to obtain formulary status and “market-share payments” to encourage PBMs to dispense particular drugs. The Department is currently considering the extent to which PBM discount and rebate revenue attributable to a PBM’s business with ERISA plans may properly be classified as compensation related to services provided to the plans. Thus, in the absence of further guidance from the Department, discount and rebate revenue received by PBMs from pharmaceutical companies generally do not need to be treated as reportable indirect compensation for Schedule C purposes, even if the discount or rebate may be based in part of the quantity of drugs dispensed under ERISA plans administered by the PBM. If, however, the plan and the PBM agree that such rebates or discounts (or earnings on rebates and discounts held by the PBM) would be used to compensate the PBM for managing the plan’s prescription drug coverage, dispensing prescriptions or other administrative and ancillary services, that revenue would be reportable indirect compensation notwithstanding that the funds were derived from rebates or discounts.

More information to follow via our blog at www.medtipster.com

Pharmacists are Among the Most Trusted Professionals

February 04, 2010 By: Tylar Masters Category: Medicine Advice

Pharmacies work hard to bring you in as a customer, not just once, but for life. They want to be your trusted source for questions and concerns, as well as fill your doctor’s written prescription.

Think about the last time you took a 10-minute drive somewhere. How many CVS, Rite Aid or Walgreens did you pass? The fact is there’s a pharmacy on nearly every other corner! The pharmacy industry is crucial to healthcare.

Within every pharmacy, there is a trusted professional called a pharmacist. Otherwise the pharmacy wouldn’t be able to operate. The National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) states that on average there is a pharmacy within two and a half miles of every resident in the U.S. Many have drive-thru and 24-hour access, meaning whenever you’re in need of a medication, your pharmacist is there for you.

Pharmacists dispense pills, sure, but that’s not all they do. They consult with you regarding your specific prescription, other medications you are taking, side effects, possible alternatives, and answer any questions you have about your health. Many times I’ve walked into my pharmacy looking for an over-the-counter drug for a cold or flu like symptoms, and the pharmacist on duty helps me find the best option for my symptoms.

This shows me a high level of kindness and concern, which healthcare professionals should absolutely carry at all times. I believe in most cases, people find that pharmacy professionals are always willing to answer questions and spend time getting to know their patients. Often this is why pharmacies entice customers to stay with them for refills and ongoing prescriptions, the pharmacist wants to get to know you, and help you determine the right medications for you.

Sources: National Association of Chain Drug Stores

Reporting drug side effects and reactions

December 16, 2009 By: Lior Category: Medicine Advice, Medtipster

An important question came in today on what to do if a medication you are taking does not perform as expected. First and foremost evaluate if emergency medical services are need, and call 911.

Then inform your doctor of the indecent. Try to keep careful notes of what happened before,  during and after. Its important to mention any and all medications, both prescription (RX) and over the counter (OTC). Mention  any and all vitamins, supplements or antacids, since they too may have had a role.

Finally inform the FDA, they keep track of this information and will investigate. You are encouraged to notify them so that future incidents can be avoided thereby turning your unfortunate incident into a potential lifesaver for someone else.

If you like you can share your story and get support by posting in our forum.

Stay Healthy!

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