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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.

Savings Experiment: Treating the High Cost of Prescription Drugs

February 17, 2011 By: Nadia Category: HealthCare, Medicine Advice, Medtipster, Prescription News, Prescription Savings

www.Medtipster.com Source: WalletPop.com, by Barbara Thau – 2.15.2011

As the economy still muddles through a funk, the price of prescription drugs continues to soar. in fact, drug prices are the fastest growing chunk of consumers’ healthcare expenses, according to the non-profit Families USA.

But there are myriad ways to meaningfully trim your prescription drug bill. From generic drugs to assistance programs — here’s how to save on your meds — and do so safely.

Avoid Brand Names

To slash as much as 70% off the price of your medications, buy generic.

“If you are given a prescription for a brand name drug from your doctor, it’s always good to ask, ‘Is there a generic equivalent for this drug?’ ” says Jody Rohlena, senior editor at Consumer Reports’ ShopSmart.

A recent report by Best Buy Drugs, a division of Consumers Union (Consumer Reports’ parent company), examined the safety and effectiveness of prescription medications and found that generics are as safe and effective as brand names.

Tap Low-Cost Prescription Programs (Located On Medtipster.com)

Take advantage of the price war being waged among national discounters and supermarket chains for generic prescription medications.

Walmart, Target and Kroger charge $4 for a month’s supply on hundreds of generic drugs. Some other options, recommends ShopSmart, include Costco, Kmart, Drugstore.com and Walgreens, which also run reputable and highly-affordable discount drug programs.

To save a few extra dollars, ask your doctor for 90-day prescriptions. Walmart, for example, offers $4 for a month’s supply and $10 for a 90-day supply. With buying in bulk, the savings will add up as you fill more prescriptions and it will also save you trips to the drugstore.

‘Splitting’ the Cost

If you take prescription drugs to treat a chronic illness, you might be able to save money by splitting your pills — literally cutting them in half. With prescription medication costs soaring, many doctors are advising patients to do just that.

Pill-splitting can save money because pharmacies routinely charge roughly the same amount for a particular medication, regardless of the dose. But don’t go it alone: It’s crucial to consult your doctor about splitting your pills as not all medicines can be safely divided.

For example, a once-a-day drug may cost $100 for a month’s supply in either a 100-milligram dose or a 50-mg dose. If your doctor prescribes the 50-mg pill, it will set you back $100. But if your doctor prescribes the 100-mg pill and instructs you to cut it in half, $100 will get you two months worth of the medication, according to The Shoppers Guide to Prescription Drugs: Pill Splitting, a report from Best Buy Drugs.

Pill-splitters cost between $5 and $10 and can be found in most drugstores.

Although the American Medical Association opposes the practice, they acknowledge that many pills can be split safely if done correctly, the Best Buy Drugs report says.

Ask for Help

If you’re having trouble paying for medication, let your doctor know.

A physician can help spell out your options, such as financial help through your insurer, if you have one, and patient-assistance programs that you might qualify for.

Some pharmaceutical companies also provide free and low-cost medications to people who cannot afford to pay for medications.

RxAssist offers a database of such programs, as well as ways to manage your prescription drug expenses. DestinationRx is another source, with price comparison tools and guidance on drug-purchasing options.

Rx Savings for Seniors

The quest for affordable medication takes on a heightened sense of urgency when it comes to seniors: Most seniors are on a fixed income and are among the biggest consumers of prescription drugs, representing 34% of the prescriptions filled in the U.S., according to Families USA.

High costs mean that many seniors “have had to make some tough decisions in terms of taking their medicines,” says David Allen, a spokesman for AARP.

Now the government is offering some relief. A provision in the new healthcare law is designed to take a bite out of what’s known as “the doughnut hole,” and over time close the coverage gap on prescription medications.

As things were last year, once seniors spent $2,830 on medication, they had to pay 100% for their prescriptions until they reached the $3,610 threshold — a financial hardship for many older Americans. Now, when they reach the $2,830 threshold, the government will chip in 50% of the cost for brand-name drugs and 7% for generics, Allen says. By 2020, the doughnut hole will cease to exist, says Allen.

If you’re on Medicare, keep track of your particular prescription costs with AARP’s Doughnut Hole Calculator.

Use it to alert you when you’re nearing the coverage gap. It also will offer a list of alternative, lower-cost drugs based on your prescription drug profile that you can take to your doctor to discuss whether switching to a lower-cost drug will work for you.

In addition, AARP provides a handy Drug Savings Tool link where consumers can compare a drug’s efficacy and price against alternative medications listed by Best Buy Drugs.

Buyer Beware: Pharmacy Fraud

Pharmacy fraud is alive and well and living on the Internet. Scam artists are there seeking money, or personal information to commit identity theft.

These types of predators mostly hunt their prey online, says Sally Hurme, senior product manager of education and outreach for AARP, who tracks pharmacy scams that target the entire drug-purchasing population.

When an online offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. An email offer for prescription medications at bargain basement prices (that does not come directly from a well-known retailer or your health insurance company) is most likely a scam, Hurme says. And email that says “Viagra for $10″ or “Prilosec for $5,” for example, should go right in your email trash — chances are that it will wind up in your spam folder anyway.

Scam artists often masquerade as online pharmacists. They woo consumers to pay upfront in exchange for a supposed drug discount card. Shoppers who “order” their medications receive nothing at all, or drugs that are compromised in some way — be they expired or at the wrong dosage.

Be skeptical. Before filling a prescription online, be sure that the pharmacy requires a doctor’s prescription. And never provide your personal information — such as your Social Security number, credit card or health history — to a website unless you’ve verified that it’s secure, says AARP.

Steep Co-Pays May Cause Some to Abandon Prescriptions

November 17, 2010 By: Nadia Category: HealthCare, Medicine Advice, Medtipster, Prescription News

www.Medtipster.com Source: HealthDay, 11.15.2010 – By Serena Gordon

In these tough economic times, even people with health insurance are leaving prescription medications at the pharmacy because of high co-payments.

This costs the pharmacy between $5 and $10 in processing per prescription, and across the United States that adds up to about $500 million in additional health care costs annually, according to Dr. William Shrank, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and lead author of a new study.

“A little over 3 percent of prescriptions that are delivered to the pharmacy aren’t getting picked up,” said Shrank. “And, in more than half of those cases, the prescription wasn’t refilled anywhere else during the next six months.”

Results of the study are published in the Nov. 16 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Shrank and his colleagues reviewed data on the prescriptions bottled for insured patients of CVS Caremark, a pharmacy benefits manager and national retail pharmacy chain. CVS Caremark funded the study.

The study period ran from July 1, 2008 through Sept. 30, 2008. More than 10.3 million prescriptions were filled for 5.2 million patients. The patients’ average age was 47 years, and 60 percent were female, according to the study. The average family income in their neighborhoods was $61,762.

Of the more than 10 million prescriptions, 3.27 percent were abandoned.

Cost appeared to be the biggest driver in whether or not someone would leave a prescription, according to the study.

If a co-pay was $50 or over, people were 4.5 times more likely to abandon the prescription, Shrank said, adding that it’s “imperative to talk to your doctor and pharmacist to try to identify less expensive options, rather than abandoning an expensive medication and going without.”

Drugs with a co-pay of less than $10 were abandoned just 1.4 percent of the time, according to the study. People were also a lot less likely to leave generic medications at the pharmacy counter, according to Shrank.

The medications most frequently abandoned were cough, cold, allergy, asthma and skin medications, those used on an as-needed basis. Insulin prescriptions were abandoned 2.2 percent of the time, but Douglas Warda, director of pharmacy for ambulatory services at the University of Chicago Medical Center, said this might be a cost issue, but it could also be that some people are afraid to inject insulin.

The study also found that antipsychotic medications were abandoned 2.3 percent of the time.

Drugs least likely to be abandoned included opiate medications for pain, blood pressure medications, birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy, and blood-thinning medications, according to the study.

Young people between the ages of 18 and 34 were the most likely to forgo their prescriptions, and new users of medications were 2.74 times more likely to leave their drugs behind.

Prescription orders that were delivered to the pharmacy electronically — via the computer — were 64 percent more likely to be abandoned than prescriptions walked into the pharmacy.

“We’re definitely not saying that e-prescribing is bad; it’s great, but there appear to be some unintended consequences,” said Shrank.

There was no way to tell if people never tried to pick up their prescriptions, or if they went to retrieve them but chose to leave them behind because of the cost.

Warda said he believes that more patients might pick up their medications if the instructions from their physicians were clearer. For example, prescriptions for proton pump inhibitors were left at the pharmacy 2.6 percent of the time. These medications reduce the amount of acid in the stomach and can help prevent heartburn or more serious problems. “If the physician message is, ‘You need to take these medications for two to three months and it will reduce your pain and help your body heal,’ fewer people might abandon these medications,” he said.

Plus, if cost is an issue for you, bring it up with your doctor ahead of time, he added. “Don’t get blindsided at the pharmacy. Always ask your physician if there’s a generic option, or if there’s something cheaper that might work just as well. Sometimes people are embarrassed to say anything, but it’s better to ask and get a medication you can afford.

“If you get to the pharmacy, and you can’t afford the medication, follow up with your doctor or ask the pharmacist if there’s a cheaper alternative,” suggested Warda.

The Cost of Active Ingredients in Popular Prescriptions, Revealed

January 05, 2010 By: Tylar Masters Category: Medtipster, Prescription Savings

Have you ever wondered how much the active ingredient in brand name prescription medications costs? Take a look below and see examples of how little it costs to produce some of the most popular brand name medications sold in the United States.

Every prescription listed below is available on a discount generic program at a pharmacy near you. Medtipster.com is your one stop shop to locate these, and thousands of other prescriptions, for as little as $4, or less!

norvasc

Norvasc

Norvasc: 10 mg

Consumer Price – 100 tablets: $188.29

Cost of General Active Ingredients: $0.14

Percent Markup: 134,493%

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paxil

Paxil

Paxil: 20 mg

Consumer Price – 100 tablets: $220.27

Cost of General Active Ingredients: $7.60

Percent Markup: 2,898%

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Prozac

Prozac

Prozac: 20 mg

Consumer Price – 100 tablets: $247.47

Cost of General Active Ingredients: $0.11

Percent Markup: 224,973%

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Tenormin

Tenormin

Tenormin: 50 mg

Consumer Price – 100 tablets: $104.47

Cost of General Active Ingredients: $0.13

Percent Markup: 80,362%

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Vasotec

Vasotec

Vasotec: 10 mg

Consumer Price – 100 tablets: $102.37

Cost of General Active Ingredients: $0.20

Percent Markup: 51,185%

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Xanax

Xanax

Xanax: 1 mg

Consumer Price – 100 tablets: $136.79

Cost of General Active Ingredients: $0.024

Percent Markup: 569,958%

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Zestril

Zestril

Zestril: 20 mg

Consumer Price – 100 tablets: $89.89

Cost of General Active Ingredients: $3.20

Percent Markup: 2,809%

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Zithromax

Zithromax

Zithromax: 600 mg

Consumer Price – 100 tablets: $1,482.19

Cost of General Active Ingredients: $18.78

Percent Markup: 7,892%

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Zoloft

Zoloft

Zoloft: 50 mg

Consumer Price: $206.87

Cost of General Active Ingredients: $1.75

Percent Markup: 11,821%

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Now more than ever, with healthcare costs at at all time high, and little relief in sight for so many who struggle with affording medications, we encourage you to share this information with your family and friends.

And remember, Medtipster.com has up to date information on health screenings, immunizations, mini-clinics, and of course, prescription drugs at the lowest cost available.

Through the “FREE Everyday Prescription Giveaway,” Medtipster will process free generics for Michigan residents at pharmacies including Kroger, Target, Spartan Stores and Walmart.

December 01, 2009 By: Nadia Category: Free Prescriptions, Medtipster

Medtipster's FREE Every Day Giveaway

Medtipster's FREE Every Day Giveaway

Today Medtipster, the company behind the online healthcare search engine and price comparator Medtipster.com, announced the launch of a new program to create awareness of a safe and effective way to reduce consumers’ healthcare costs in the face of today’s difficult economy.

Through Medtipster’s “FREE Everyday Prescription Giveaway,” Michigan residents can visit www.medtipster.com throughout December to register for a chance to win a free qualifying generic prescription on a discount list from a participating pharmacy. No purchase is necessary to register. Network pharmacies on medtipster.com include Kroger, Target, Spartan Stores, and Walmart, among others. Hundreds of winners will be selected at random during the 31-day promotion, ending December 31, 2009. Winners will select from thousands of qualifying generic medications listed on www.medtipster.com and receive up to a three-month supply for free at participating pharmacies.

“Switching to generic prescriptions on discount lists is a great way for consumers to save money on their rising healthcare costs, without compromising their quality of care,” said Jason A. Klein, President of Medtipster. “Our ‘FREE Everyday’ promotion will bring awareness to this, and to the fact that consumers can save everyday by using Medtipster.com to find where they can locate generic equivalents of their medications on discount pricing programs by zip code, right in their neighborhoods. We are not an e-commerce site – instead we help consumers find where they can purchase their prescription medications and find seasonal and H1N1 flu vaccinations at the lowest price, right in their neighborhoods.”

Based in Troy, Mich., Medtipster is launching the promotion in Michigan, but will soon expand the promotion nationwide. For more information or to register for a chance to win, visit www.medtipster.com.

About Medtipster

Medtipster (www.medtipster.com) was developed to provide the public with a solution to the rising cost of healthcare. Headquartered in Troy, Mich., Medtipster is the brainchild of five Michigan executives, who combined their collective experience of 100 years in the pharmaceutical industry to provide Americans with substantial savings on their prescription drug and healthcare expenses.

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