Do Proton Pump Inhibitors Increase the Risk of Death - wellrx blog image

By Misgana Gebreslassie, PharmD Candidate 2020,
University of Colorado

Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are prescription medications that help with symptoms of acid reflux or heartburn. Appropriate use of PPIs is generally safe. However, some studies have associated certain health risks with long-term use.

How Do Proton Pump Inhibitors Work?

Proton pump inhibitors work by reducing acid secretion in the stomach. The use of PPIs has been increasing since they entered the market in the late 1980s due to their treatment success. Their use has increased from 4% to 8% between 1999 to 2012 in the US adult population. Alarmingly, more than half of this population use them for incorrect medical conditions.[1] It’s important to work with your doctor to make sure you’re taking the right medications for the right conditions.

Common proton pump inhibitors include:

Pay less for your acid reflux medication:

Do Proton Pump Inhibitors Increase the Risk of Death?

A study published in 2017 found a small association between the use of PPIs and increased risk of death. The study compared the rate of death among people who took PPIs, histamine 2 receptor antagonists (H2RAs – another type of stomach acid suppressant) or neither medication. 

There was a higher number of deaths reported among people taking PPIs compared to people taking H2RAs or neither medication. However, this study shows only an association and does not prove taking PPIs directly causes death. Due to the nature of the study, the increased risk of death may be real or may be due to chance.[1,2]

Is It Safe to Take Proton Pump Inhibitors Long-term?

Some studies have associated long-term use of PPIs with a small risk of bone fractures, diarrhea, infection of the gut or lungs, and heart and kidney problems. However, there are no claims that suggest PPIs are the direct cause of these adverse drug outcomes. [1,4]

Another study assessing the overall safety of long-term PPI use was published in May 2019. The study reported no adverse drug outcomes except for increased number of gut infections among participants taking a PPI for 3 years compared to participants taking no PPIs.[3]

Side Effects of Proton Pump Inhibitors

Short-term side effects of proton pump inhibitors are generally mild and may include:

  • Headache
  • Upset Stomach
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Flatulence

Let your doctor know of any side effects you experience while taking a PPI.

Should I Stop Taking a PPI?

If you are taking a PPI, you should continue using it as directed by your doctor. PPIs are generally considered safe when taken as directed by your doctor or pharmacist for short periods of time. 

Sometimes, PPIs are used for gastrointestinal diseases that require a long-term or life-long treatment. In such patients, the benefit of PPI use outweighs the small or modest increased risk of adverse drug outcomes. If you are concerned about your PPI use, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about treatment options. [4]


See available discounts for your PPI prescription:



References

1.     Xie Y, Bowe B, Li T, et al. Risk of death among users of Proton Pump Inhibitors: a longitudinal observational cohort study of United States veterans. BMJ Open 2017;7:e015735.

2.     Does taking proton pump inhibitors increase the risk of death? Retrieved from: https://www.nps.org.au/professionals/ppis/does-taking-proton-pump-inhibitors-increase-the-risk-of-death. Accessed on 8/12/2019 

3.     Moayyedi P, Eikelboom JW, Bosch Jackie, et al. Safety of proton pump inhibitors based on a large, multi-year, randomized trial of patients receiving rivaroxaban or aspirin. Gastroenterology. 2019 May 29. Pii:S0016-5085(19)40974-8

4.     Wolfe MM. Proton pump inhibitors: Overview of use and adverse effects in the treatment of acid related disorders. In: Feldman M & Grover S (Editors). UpToDate. [Internet]. Published place unknown: UpToDate; 2019 [cited Nov 29, 2017]. Available from: https://www-uptodate-com. Accessed on 9/10/2019



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5 heart problem signs - blog image

By Libby Pellegrini MMS, PA-C

It’s hard to miss the classic presentation of a heart attack—hands clutching the chest in agony, sweating, rapid breathing. Whether in movies, drug commercials, or television shows, popular media have likely drilled the warning signs into your head. Even more nuanced signs of a heart problem, such as neck, arm, or jaw pain, tend to get our attention in a hurry. However, some heart problems make themselves known with signs that are far more subtle. 

Don’t be caught off guard when it comes to protecting your own and your loved ones’ hearts. Read on to learn five signs of a heart problem that are worth worrying about. 

1. Passing Out with No Warning

Fainting can occur for many reasons, including exhaustion, emotional distress, illness, dehydration, rising quickly from a seated position, or a brain condition. Usually, such episodes of fainting, also known as syncope, come with warning signs such as lightheadedness, dizziness, weak legs, or tunnel vision. However, fainting without any preceding clues could be caused by an electrical heart problem.

Typically, electricity drives the normal functioning of the heart. However, when the heart’s chambers receive certain abnormal electrical signals, the chambers can start pumping out of sync, creating a condition called complete heart block. The heart rate slows and blood pressure drops, causing your heart to temporarily stop sending blood to your brain. This can cause you to faint.

The causes of heart block include structural abnormalities in the heart, inflammation, infection, heart attack, surgical procedures, certain genetic abnormalities, or certain medications. If you or a loved one is experiencing episodic fainting, follow up with a healthcare provider immediately.

2. Getting Winded During Normal Activities

If you notice a sudden change in your ability to perform your normal daily activities, such as grocery shopping or walking up a flight of stairs, it could be caused by a problem with your heart.

As a muscle, the heart contracts in a coordinated effort to pump blood throughout the body, pushing blood from chamber to chamber and then out to the body. If one of the valves between the chambers becomes too narrow (due to infection, cumulative damage, or a structural problem), the heart has to work harder to pump blood. This increased pumping effort can cause you to feel more tired than usual during your normal activities. 

One specific valve that can become too narrow is the aortic valve. This valve, which sits on the left side of the heart, is the doorway between the heart and the rest of the blood network. If your healthcare provider suspects you have this heart condition, known as aortic stenosis, he or she will listen to your heart with a stethoscope to check for a murmur and likely order an ultrasound of the heart to better evaluate what is going on. 

3. Fast Weight Gain Without Explanation

Some types of weight gain can be easily explained by a few too many holiday parties, an ice cream marathon, or a bum knee that derails a workout routine. However, rapid weight gain without explanation could be a sign of a heart problem called heart failure.

When the heart is pumping (which is all the time, hopefully!), it relies on a series of mechanisms to keep blood flowing throughout the body. Typically, this is a beautifully orchestrated feedback loop: the heart beats, pushing blood to the kidneys and other organs; the kidneys filter out waste and excess fluid, creating urine; and the blood then is returned to the heart. However, if the heart weakens, it can’t keep up with the cycle, triggering a backup in the plumbing system. Fluid will start to accumulate in the body, outside of the blood vessel network, in places such as the legs, abdomen, or lungs. Retaining excess fluid in this manner can cause sudden weight gain.

Heart failure can come on gradually or suddenly. There are many causes or risk factors, including coronary artery disease, cigarette smoking, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, aging, infection, pregnancy, illicit drug use, and heart valve problems. Follow up with your healthcare provider for urgent evaluation if you are experiencing rapid weight gain that has no clear explanation.

4. Shortness of Breath When Lying in Bed

Shortness of breath that increases when you are lying flat can also be a sign of heart failure. When fluid backs up into the lungs, it can cause orthopnea, or feeling airless (short of breath) when lying down. Many people with heart failure will compensate by increasing the number of pillows they use to sleep so they are in a more upright position. 

If you or a loved one are experiencing this sign, follow up with your healthcare provider immediately for a thorough medical evaluation. Many people with heart failure are able to control their condition using medication. If you are prescribed a medicine, visit ScriptSave® WellRx to find the lowest prescription price.

5. Dizziness

Dizziness is a cardinal sign of many heart conditions, particularly problems with the heart’s rhythm. One common heart rhythm problem is atrial fibrillation, or “a-fib.” When the heart switches into a-fib, it beats rapidly in an irregularly erratic pattern, which results in inconsistent delivery of blood to the brain. This sporadic brain perfusion from the variability in blood delivery to the brain can cause the symptom of dizziness.

Atrial fibrillation can be caused by coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, age, infection, or hormonal problems. If you or a loved one is feeling dizzy, especially if you also have a noticeably rapid heartbeat, seek medical attention immediately.

Putting It All Together

Some signs of a heart problem are subtle. If you are experiencing any of the five signs above, follow up with a medical provider immediately. If, after a thorough evaluation, you are diagnosed with a heart condition, you will likely be prescribed a medication. Make sure to check out ScriptSave WellRx at a pharmacy near you to receive the lowest prescription price. 


References:

Cleveland Clinic, Heart Block

Cardio Smart, American College of Cardiology, Aortic Stenosis

Mayo Clinic, Heart Failure

Harvard Health, Atrial Fibrillation

Libby Pellegrini is a nationally certified physician assistant. She currently works in emergency medicine, where she sees and treats a broad spectrum of illnesses across all age ranges. She holds a journalism degree from Northwestern University. 



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While employer health insurance and government programs like Medicare offer prescription coverage for many Americans, there are still a large number of people who fall through the coverage gap. 

Patient assistance programs (PAPs) are offered by many pharmaceutical manufacturers. These programs provide eligible patients with access to brand-name medications at little or no cost.

There are a growing number of PAPs available in the U.S. While most of these programs are funded by drug companies, there is an increasing number offered by states, local governments, and non-profit organizations. Regardless of the organization offering them, PAPs can be a big help to anyone who is unable to afford their medication.

How Patient Assistance Programs Work

Patient assistance programs provide medications for free or at a reduced cost for individuals who are uninsured or underinsured and can’t afford their medication.

Each program differs, however, most will require patients to complete an application form. Some programs may also require financial and medical information from the applicant. In addition, almost every PAP will require some level of information from your doctor. Some programs only request your doctor’s signature while others may require your doctor complete a form. 

Once you have been accepted by the program, your medication may be delivered in several different ways. Some PAPs distribute the medication directly to your doctor’s office, some will send it to a pharmacy, and others may send the medication directly to you. 

Qualifying For Patient Assistance Programs

Eligibility requirements will vary for each patient assistance program. However, there are a number of common requirements that patients must meet to qualify for a program. 

  • Health requirements – Organizations often require patients to provide proof of need for the drug. A written prescription for the medication is often enough, but some programs may require additional documentation, including signed forms from the patient’s doctor.
  • Insurance Requirements – Patients will typically have to provide proof that they are uninsured, under insured, or that their insurance plan does not cover the medication or medical supply.
  • Financial Requirements – Income is another qualifying factor considered by organizations offering PAPs. In order to qualify, patients must demonstrate a financial need. PAPs often use the Federal Poverty Guidelines to establish qualifying income thresholds and some will use tiered eligibility requirements; in other words, a patient in the lowest income tier may receive the medication completely free, while someone in the next eligibility tier will receive the medication at a discount.

Each PAP’s benefits will vary widely and they often have different requirements for patients. If you’re unsure of the program’s requirements, programs will often have a support line you can contact with questions. 

Patient Assistance Programs vs. Prescription Discount Cards

While looking for help to save on prescriptions, you might come across information about both PAPs and prescription discount cards. While both are meant to help individuals lower their prescription costs, they differ in how they work and who is eligible

You might also find information about manufacturer copay coupons. These programs can also provide significant savings to patients who qualify for them. You can read more about how they work in the blog post, “What Are Drug Coupons, Why Do They Exist and How Do They Work?

Unlike PAPs and copay coupons, most prescription discount cards, including the ScriptSave WellRx discount card, are available to anyone, regardless of financial or insurance status. Additionally, you are not required to involve your doctor or meet any medical requirements to use your discount card.

While PAPs are usually sponsored directly by pharmaceutical companies, prescription discount card programs help people save by negotiating discounted cash prices on both generic and brand name medications. Patients can then receive lower cost prescriptions by showing their discount card at participating pharmacies.

Related Article: Rx Discount Cards vs Drug Coupons

Prescription Savings With ScriptSave WellRx

ScriptSave WellRx is freely available to anyone and is accepted at thousands of pharmacies across the U.S. If you’re searching for savings on your prescription medications, get your ScriptSave WellRx discount card and start saving today.



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Medicare Part C, also known as Medicare Advantage, is a health insurance plan offered by private insurance companies that have been approved by Medicare. Advantage plans give you the option to enroll in a single policy that contains the same coverage as Medicare Parts A and B, as well as prescription drug coverage.

With so many parts and plan options, Medicare can be confusing. We’ll explain everything you need to know about Medicare Advantage plans, and whether they’re right for you.

How Is Medicare Part C Different from the Other Parts of Medicare?

A major difference between Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans and Original Medicare plans is the insurance providers. While the U.S. government provides the coverage on Original Medicare plans, Medicare Advantage plans are offered by private insurers who are vetted by the government.

Medicare Advantage plans and Original Medicare also differ in coverage. Original Medicare consists of Part A, B, and D. Part A covers inpatient services like hospitalization or care in a skilled nursing facility. Part B covers outpatient care such as routine doctor visits, lab tests, and preventative care. Part D provides coverage for prescription drugs.

Medicare Advantage plans provide the same coverage as Part A and Part B, as well as prescription drug coverage that varies with each plan. Since private insurers offer Medicare Advantage plans, drug formularies vary.

Find discounts on drugs not covered by your Medicare Part C plan:

Some Part C plans can also provide additional vision and dental benefits that may not be covered by Original Medicare. They may even give you extra wellness benefits like discounted gym memberships.

Is Medicare Advantage Right for Me?

Individual needs vary, so it’s important to compare your health insurance options and choose the coverage that is right for you. Here are some of the benefits of Medicare Advantage plans:

  • Same coverage as Medicare Part A and Part B.
  • Added benefits such as prescription drug coverage, dental, and vision (varies by plan).
  • Care coordination; under certain Part C plans, you can designate a Primary Care Physician (PCP) to help coordinate your care. Certain plans also provide medication therapy management.

Overall, a Part C plan offers more comprehensive coverage in one plan. If you were to enroll in an Original Medicare plan, you would have to elect for Part D prescription drug coverage separately, and dental and vision care would be limited. 

However, there are a few drawbacks to Medicare Advantage plans, including:

  • More limited provider networks
  • Special authorization or referral requirements

While Original Medicare plans allow you to see any provider who accepts Medicare, a Part C plan requires you to see a provider in that plan’s specific network. The Part C provider networks are usually regional, not national like Original Medicare. Additionally, your Part C plan may require you to obtain prior authorization for certain medical procedures or get a referral from your PCP to see a specialist.

Medicare Supplement Insurance

You may have heard about Medicare Supplement Insurance, or Medigap. Like Medicare Advantage plans, Medigap is offered by private health insurance providers. 

However, Medigap requires you to maintain Medicare Part A and Part B coverage. In fact, it is illegal for you to purchase Medicare Supplement Insurance if you have an Advantage Plan. If you currently have Medigap and are thinking of joining an Advantage Plan, you should contact your insurance company to drop your policy.

A Medigap policy is meant to help cover additional healthcare costs that Original Medicare does not, like:

  • Deductibles
  • Coinsurance
  • Copayments

As a supplement to Original Medicare, you must pay a separate monthly premium for your Medigap policy. This payment is made to the private insurer issuing the policy. 

It is important to note, Medigap policies are supplemental and only offer limited coverage. For example, policies may not cover:

  • Prescription drugs
  • Vision or dental care
  • Most long-term care
  • Private-duty nursing

In this regard, Medicare Advantage plans offer the benefit of an all-in-one comprehensive policy. 

Can I Be Turned Down For A Medicare Advantage Plan?

In general, if you are eligible for Medicare Parts A & B, then you will not be denied coverage by Part C. Patients with pre-existing medical conditions are also still eligible for Medicare Advantage plans. The only exception is for End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD).

Individuals with ESRD may be ineligible for most Medicare Advantage plans. However, certain Special Needs plans may still provide coverage. 

Medicare Advantage Plan Costs

Monthly premiums for Medicare Advantage plans can range from $0 to more than $300. Premiums vary between plans and even by location. However, when comparing plans, it’s important to consider more than just premiums. 

For example, while some plans may have a $0 premium, copays and deductibles for these plans can be much higher than in plans with more expensive premiums. Always compare all the costs of a plan and make sure that it meets your healthcare needs.

Medicare Advantage Plan Prescription Drug Coverage

While many Medicare Advantage plans include prescription drug coverage, drug formularies vary across plans. This means co-pays may differ and not all drugs will be covered by your plan. 

If your medication is not covered by your Medicare Part C policy, or the co-pay is too high, ScriptSave WellRx may be able to help you save. Our drug price comparison tool lets you check prices at multiple pharmacies in your area. You can also get a free prescription discount card to help you save at the pharmacy.

References:



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why do my drugs cost so much - blog image

By Joel Yambert, MS, Pharm.D. Candidate, Class of 2020,
University of Arizona College of Pharmacy

We’ve all seen it happen before. You’re in line at the pharmacy and next thing you hear, “No way. How do you expect anyone to afford that? I’m not paying for that!” Healthcare costs in the United States have continued to skyrocket. A recent poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that nearly one-in-four (25%) people stated they have difficulty affording their medications and three-in-ten (30%) report not taking their medications as prescribed due to drug costs.

So why are all these medications so expensive?

The Main Players in Drug Costs

There are a number of players in the pharmaceutical pipeline who impact the price of medications.

Government/
lawmakers
Pharmaceutical Companies/
Manufacturers
Pharmacy Benefit Manager (PBM)/
”Insurance”
Pharmacy stores/hospitals Patient
Pass laws that affect pricing, taxing, and reimbursement of drug creation and distribution Base pricing on a variety of factors: cost to create the drug, number of people with potential to take the drug, and severity of need for the drug Acts as the middleman between health plans, drug manufacturer, and pharmacy Pharmacies pay a wholesaler to get drugs from the manufacturer and have contracts with PBMs to dispense the drugs There are a variety of places to get your drugs, private or government insurance, and other elements

Government Factors

According to a government survey from the National Health Expenditure Accounts Team, spending on prescription drugs increased 12.2% in 2014. There was a drug recently approved for a rare childhood disorder that costs $2.1 million for treatment. Policymakers and legislature are constantly working on ways to control drug costs to try to find a balance between those creating the drugs, those paying for them, and the companies that act in between them—such as PBMs. Government officials and lawmakers look to other countries’ policies to continuously evaluate the state of drug costs, and healthcare in general, in the United States.

High Costs of Drug Development

As discussed in my article “Antibiotic Overprescribing: Creating the Next Big Superbug?,” the manufacturing and development of new antibiotics has been halted by most drug companies due to the lack of profit from their investment in antibiotics.

Drug development costs for pharmaceutical companies continue to rise as well as the cost to the consumers. The median cost of drug development for a single drug was $648 million, according to a 2017 study. Another study stated the cost to be an average of $2.7 billion.

These costs have put more pressure on pharmaceutical companies to be profitable in their drug development processes. Some diseases, like Alzheimer’s, have had their drug development funding cut in order to tackle more profitable diseases like cancer.

Pharmacy Benefit Managers and Pharmacies

Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) act as middleman, so they negotiate drugs from the manufacturers at a discounted price for pharmacies. The pharmacy then purchases the drug from a wholesaler and the PBM charges the pharmacy a fee for getting the drug at a discounted cost. By doing this, the PBM retains the rebates on the medications instead of passing them down to pharmacies or consumers. Rebates are also gained by the PBM when they put the drug from the drug manufacturer on their PBM formulary. Due to this, the pharmacy is paying the wholesaler for the discounted cost and paying a fee to the PBM.

For pharmacies to gain money back from paying for the PBM service and for the medication itself, they pass the financial burden downstream to the patient (or buyer). You can see that there are many different processes occurring that result in the way drugs are priced and how much they end up costing the patient.

Advantages of a Free Market

This may seem like finding affordable medication is helpless. What can you do to combat high drug prices? Many pharmaceutical company (or drug) sites will have coupons for their drugs that patients can use. There are also apps available, like ScriptSave WellRx, that provide discount pricing, sometimes less than the amount your insurance is willing to provide, on certain medications. There are many more avenues patients can take in order to combat against the high price of their medications. Talk to your pharmacist or doctor about potential price burdens.

Your health is in your own hands. You have the ability to research these pathways in order to get the best deal you can for your mediation needs. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to your various healthcare providers in order to get the help you need. Sometimes pricier drugs have alternatives that may be more affordable to fit your budget!

References:

  1. https://www.kff.org/health-costs/press-release/poll-nearly-1-in-4-americans-taking-prescription-drugs-say-its-difficult-to-afford-medicines-including-larger-shares-with-low-incomes/
  2. Martin AB, Hartman M, Benson J, Catlin A. National Health Expenditure Accounts Team. National health spending in 2014: faster growth driven by coverage expansion and prescription drug spending. Health Aff. 2016;35(1):150–60.
  3. Prasad, V., & Mailankody, S. (2017). Research and Development Spending to Bring a Single Cancer Drug to Market and Revenues After Approval. JAMA internal medicine177(11), 1569–1575. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2017.3601
  4. Ventola C. L. (2015). The antibiotic resistance crisis: part 1: causes and threats. P & T: a peer-reviewed journal for formulary management, 40(4), 277–283.
  5. https://www.rheumatology.org/Portals/0/Files/Issue-Brief-Pharmacy-Benefit-Manager-Transparency.pdf


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Is coronavirus contagious - image

Update: As of April 3, 2020, the CDC says there have been 239,279 reported COVID-19 cases in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the US Virgin Islands, resulting in 5,443 deaths.

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-in-us.html

While the number of illnesses and deaths from influenza remains high, there is news that the fast-spreading Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) is hitting the U.S. On January 21, 2020, the first U.S.-based case of the coronavirus was reported.

What is a coronavirus?

Google has reported an explosion of searches for “beer virus” and “corona beer virus.” Before you throw that six-pack out, the Coronavirus has nothing to do with beer.

Both influenza and coronavirus are contagious viral respiratory infections. Coronaviruses are widespread and include both severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), which have had worldwide impacts in past years. In addition to being passed from person-to-person, coronaviruses can also be contracted from infected animals.

What are symptoms of coronavirus?

Currently reported symptoms of coronaviruses include:

  • Mild to severe respiratory illness
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Difficulty breathing

How can I protect myself from the coronavirus?

There is not currently a vaccine to protect against the coronavirus. As with influenza, there are a number of precautions you can take to reduce your chances of getting sick from the coronavirus.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers whenever soap and water aren’t handy
  • Avoid close contact with anyone you think may be sick.
reduce your risk of getting coronavirus - image

What if I think I have coronavirus?

If you think you might be sick or coming down with an illness:

  • Stay home except to seek medical attention
  • If you have a face mask, wear it
  • Don’t share drinking glasses, dishes, cups, food, or towels with other people in your home
  • Cover your mouth with a tissue if you sneeze or cough, then throw away the tissue
  • Use sanitizers to frequently clean anything you touch
  • If you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead to tell them about any recent travel that may have taken you to areas impacted by the virus and your symptoms.

Taking these precautions can help lessen the chances that you’ll pass the illness on to someone else. If you’re not sick, it’s not too late to get a flu vaccine. While it won’t protect against the coronavirus, Dr. William Schaffner, medical director for the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, states that it looks like a second wave of flu may be spreading across the U.S.

References:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

https://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/index.htm

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/

https://abcnews.go.com/Health/1300-people-died-flu-year/story?id=67754182



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Going to the doctor’s office for your medication can be an inconvenience, especially if you just need a prescription for a minor illness or condition. You may be wondering if you can get a prescription without consulting with a doctor. The answer is no – you must see a doctor to get a prescription. However, that doesn’t always mean that you have to make a trip to the doctor’s office.

Obtaining a Prescription Through Telemedicine

You may have heard of an emerging field called telehealth, which uses technology to provide health services. Telemedicine is a subset of telehealth that refers specifically to an online consultation with a doctor, usually done over video chat on a phone or computer. The convenience of telemedicine appeals to many patients. These consultations may take just 10-15 minutes and can be conducted from the comfort of home.

With telemedicine, you can get a prescription without physically traveling to a doctor. You can talk to a physician and receive a diagnosis using technology. If you require medication for your condition, the doctor will send the prescription to the pharmacy of your choice. Then you can pick up the prescription or have it mailed to you. Telemedicine is a convenient way to fill prescriptions without making a trip to the doctor’s office every time.

Filling an Rx from Your Virtual Doctor?

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Things to Keep in Mind When Using Telemedicine

Although telemedicine can be a convenient option for many patients, there are some things to keep in mind before seeking these services.

Laws Governing Telehealth Vary by State

You may not be able to obtain a prescription via telemedicine in every state. Some have strict guidelines for establishing a patient-provider relationship that may require at least one in-person visit. The Center for Connected Health Policy has an online guide where you can check your own state’s laws. Or, you can ask your chosen telehealth platform.

Not All Medications Can be Prescribed via Telemedicine

A federal law known as the Ryan Haight Act regulates prescriptions of controlled substances. Under this law, doctors must see a patient in person before prescribing a controlled substance online, or the patient’s circumstances need to meet one of seven exceptions specified in the law. This makes it very difficult for a doctor to prescribe a controlled substance via online consultation. Some telemedicine platforms even prohibit their doctors from prescribing controlled substances.

Consider the State Where the Doctor Is Located

With telemedicine, you could be seeing a doctor located in a different state than you. It’s important to verify that your doctor is licensed to practice in your state. Telehealth platforms will usually ask you what state you’re located in, and then match you with a doctor able to practice there.

How Much Does a Telemedicine Visit Cost?

The cost for telemedicine services varies by platform, but a consultation is often just as affordable as an in-person visit, if not cheaper. Some platforms even accept insurance. If you’re uninsured, there are options available that will cost you as little as $15-$20 per visit.

Telemedicine is great for routine conditions such as sinus infections, bacterial infections, or allergies. It can also be used to monitor an ongoing or chronic condition. The field of telehealth is offering patients more convenience and, in many cases, more affordable treatment. Still, many patients are uninsured or underinsured and struggle with the cost of medications or doctor visits.

Whether you need a routine prescription or are managing a chronic condition, make sure you have savings in your pocket. Download the ScriptSave WellRx app today and compare pricing between pharmacies.

Download for iPhone     

Download for Android

Download the free ScriptSave WellRx app from the App Store Download the free ScriptSave WellRx app from the Google Play Store

References:

https://blog.evisit.com/how-to-get-a-prescription-without-seeing-a-doctor

https://www.cchpca.org/telehealth-policy/online-prescribing


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You try to take your medication on time and manage your health condition, but mistakes happen. You may find yourself out of medication unexpectedly at some point. Whether you’re on vacation and forgot to pack your Rx or you just forgot to call your pharmacy and order the next month’s supply, you may be able to get an emergency supply of your prescription.

Obtaining an Emergency Supply of Your Medication

The best thing to do when you realize you’re going to run out of medication is call your doctor. They may be willing to contact the pharmacy of your choice so you can get a prescription filled there. Even if it’s after-hours, call anyway and leave a message explaining the situation.

If you cannot get in touch with your doctor or you are in immediate need of your medication, go to a nearby pharmacy and tell them you need an emergency supply. You may be required to provide proof of your Rx, so bring your prescription bottle with you. If the pharmacist determines that going without the drug will endanger your health or wellbeing, they are able to dispense an emergency 72-hour (three-day) supply.

Another option is to go to an urgent care clinic. A doctor there may write you a prescription for a one-time dose to hold you over until you can get in touch with your primary care physician.

Medications Eligible for Emergency Supply

Keep in mind that the pharmacist will only dispense an emergency supply if they determine that your health will be harmed by going without the medication. This is usually the case with medications for chronic illnesses and life-threatening conditions like high blood pressure or seizures.

Save on prescriptions for chronic conditions.

Get a free Rx discount card today

Laws about emergency prescription refills vary by state. Some states only allow emergency prescriptions to be dispensed during a state of emergency and/or natural disaster. Many states also have regulations about dispensing an emergency supply of Schedule II drugs and other substances with a high potential for abuse.

Getting an Emergency Prescription During a Natural Disaster

A natural disaster often leaves people without their normal supply of prescription drugs. Residents may have to evacuate at a moment’s notice. Their current supply of medication may be left behind or destroyed by flood waters or power outages.

Many states allow pharmacists to dispense up to a 30-day supply of medication in the case of a natural disaster or other emergency. If you’re still at home but your medication has been destroyed or has run out, contact your pharmacy for an emergency prescription. For evacuees, the best option may be to transfer prescriptions to another pharmacy until they can return home.

If you are unable to reach a pharmacy due to flooding or other bad road conditions, try to get medication mailed to you, or transfer to a pharmacy that offers mail-order services. You can always transfer back when the emergency passes.

Plan Ahead When Possible

Although many of these situations arise unexpectedly, try to plan ahead to make sure you don’t run out of medication. Make sure you create an emergency preparedness plan. If you know you’re going to need a refill while traveling, you may be able to order it in advance. Some health insurance plans allow for prescription overrides so that you can get a prescription filled early, or obtain more than a 30-day supply.

If your insurance doesn’t allow this, you may be able to get the extra medication you need by paying out of pocket. However, not all prescriptions are able to be filled early, especially for medications that have a high potential for abuse. Talk to your doctor about what you should do if you know you’re going to be traveling but cannot fill a prescription early.

Save on Emergency Prescriptions

You may have to pay for an emergency prescription out of pocket, especially if your Rx requires prior authorization with your insurance company. Make sure you always have savings in your pocket by downloading the ScriptSave WellRx app. You can search for pharmacies near you and compare prices instantly to get the best discount.

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Healthy employees are imperative to a company’s success and are the best advocates for any employer. With prescription costs skyrocketing, we know it’s difficult to balance the need to provide healthcare coverage and still keep the cost affordable for both the business and your employees.

With an ever-increasing crunch on resources, providing full benefits to help employees stay healthy can be tough. The ScriptSave WellRx Prescription Savings Program makes prescription medications more affordable and easier to manage. Consumers show their savings card and pay the discounted price. It’s that simple!

Small Business Employer Benefit

At ScriptSave, the health of our community is important to us—that’s why we created the ScriptSave WellRx Prescription Savings Program. Our program helps individuals and families obtain discounts on prescription medications, and many times our prices are lower than insurance copays!

Prescription Savings for Employees

The ScriptSave WellRx Prescription Savings Program offers a fast, easy, and free way for employees to save on their family’s prescriptions.

  • Average savings of 60%, with potential savings of 80%* or more
  • Savings for all prescription medications — brand-name and generic
  • Accepted at more than 65,000 participating pharmacies nationwide
  • Save on prescription medications for the entire family, including pets
  • Compare our discount prices to your insurance copay
  • More Features: pill & refill reminders, Ask-A-Pharmacist, set preferred pharmacies, watch & learn videos, pill identifier, manage medication list, receive drug and lifestyle interaction alerts, and more!
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ScriptSave WellRx can help anyone save. There are no enrollment fees and no limits on usage, so it’s good as long as employees need prescription discounts.

Who Can Benefit from ScriptSave WellRx?

  • Those with limited insurance or no prescription coverage can reduce out-of-pocket expenses
  • Those with health insurance, medicare, or high-deductible health plans can reduce the cost of medications not covered by insurance, and many times ScriptSave WellRx prices are lower than insurance copays!
  • Even employees with pets can reduce out-of-pocket costs on human-equivalent pet medications.

Learn more about how the ScriptSave WellRx prescription savings program can work for your business. Contact us today or simply request a package of cards so your employees can start saving on their prescription costs today!



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After you leave the doctor’s office, you may find that there is an issue with the drug you were prescribed. You may be wondering whether you have to make another trip to the doctor or if your pharmacist could just change your prescription. The answer to this question depends on what state you live in, but there are generally a few things pharmacists are allowed to modify.

A pharmacist can change your doctor’s prescription in these ways:

  • Therapeutic Substitution: Switching out a prescribed drug with another drug in the same class.
  • Generic Substitution: Giving out a cheaper generic version of a brand name drug.
  • Pharmaceutical Compounding: Changing the form or taste of the drug to make it easier for the patient to take.

We provide more details about each of these below.

What Is Therapeutic Substitution?

Therapeutic substitution occurs when a pharmacist switches a prescribed drug for a different drug from the same class that has the same clinical effect. This type of drug switching (also called therapeutic interchange) could save a patient money, avoid side effects, or provide medication more quickly in the case of a shortage.

Your pharmacist may or may not be required to get your doctor’s approval before conducting therapeutic substitution. It depends on the specific drug and what kind of switch is occurring, as well as the laws of your state.

Risks Associated with Therapeutic Substitution

There are some types of medications that are not good candidates for therapeutic substitution. For example, antidepressants, cardiovascular medications, and epileptic medications should not be changed since doctors work closely with patients to find the right type of drug and exact dosage required.

Pharmacists may substitute medications without notifying you beforehand. If you do not want your drug to be substituted at the pharmacy, ask your doctor to note that on the prescription by writing DAW (dispense as written), “medically necessary,” or “may not substitute.”

Can a Pharmacist Change a Prescription to Generic?

Your pharmacist can often change a brand-name to a generic drug to save you money. They may do this automatically, or they may call your doctor for you and get an updated Rx. If your doctor prescribes you a name-brand drug that you’re struggling to afford, ask your pharmacist for a generic version.

Could You Save Money by Switching to a Generic Drug?

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Can a Pharmacist Change My Dosage?

A pharmacist cannot change the dosage of your prescription without talking to your doctor and getting their approval. However, the pharmacist may decide how best to dispense medications. For example, if your doctor prescribes 50mg of a drug to be taken daily, your pharmacist could give you 25 mg tablets and instruct you to take two daily. Or, they could give you 100mg tablets and tell you to split the pills, if the medication is safe to split.

What is Pharmaceutical Compounding?

Pharmaceutical compounding refers to the process of changing a medication so that it is easier for a patient to take. This may include changing the form from liquid to tablet or vice versa, adding a flavoring, changing the method of administration, eliminating inactive ingredients (such as allergens), or adjusting strength or dosage.

In short, pharmaceutical compounding is a way of customizing a patient’s prescription to fit their unique needs. When compounding, a pharmacist will work with you and your doctor to find the best solution.

What If My Medication Isn’t Working?

If you find that a drug your doctor prescribed is not working for you, a pharmacist cannot override a doctor’s prescription. You should see your doctor and have a discussion about the medications you are taking. It’s important to understand why your doctor prescribed a particular type or brand of drug.

Here are a few scenarios where you might need to modify a prescription.

Potential Interactions

Your doctor may have missed a potential drug or supplement interaction that your pharmacist catches. This is why it’s important to always inform your doctor and pharmacist of all drugs and supplements you’re taking.

There are also technology tools (like the free virtual Medicine Chest available from ScriptSave WellRx) that can automatically alert patients to potential adverse interactions for the medications they have been prescribed.

Adverse Side Effects

If you start to develop uncomfortable or dangerous side effects, let your doctor know immediately. Some side effects can be life-threatening. Be sure to carefully read all the information about your prescribed medication and report side effects as soon as they occur.

Insurance Coverage

You may find that your insurance company doesn’t cover a certain brand name or type of drug. In some cases, pharmacists can automatically substitute a drug that is covered by your insurance formulary.

Always Check Your Medication at the Pharmacy Counter

The next time you get a prescription filled, carefully check the medication that’s dispensed to you. Make sure the name and dosage match what your doctor wrote on your prescription. If it doesn’t, ask your pharmacist what has changed and how it will affect you. In many cases, pharmacists will automatically switch to a generic drug to save you money.

If you must have an expensive brand-name drug, know that there are several ways to save on prescription costs. Manufacturer coupons and patient assistance programs are available to patients who qualify. ScriptSave WellRx also offers a discount drug card to anyone, free of charge.

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EpiPen is a brand of epinephrine auto-injector that is used to treat anaphylaxis, a serious allergic reaction. An EpiPen prescription is life-saving for people with severe food allergies, but it is also expensive. Despite the risk of death with anaphylaxis, some patients choose not to fill their prescription for an EpiPen because they can’t afford it.

Here are some things to consider as you look for ways you can save money on EpiPen, to help ensure you always have epinephrine handy in case of an anaphylactic reaction.

How Much Does EpiPen Cost?

The cash price for a 2-pack of EpiPens ranges from $600-$800, while the authorized generic version could be anywhere from $150-$350 for the same dose. This is expensive for many patients, especially if they need EpiPens for multiple family members. 

Most insurance plans will cover some form of epinephrine auto-injectors, but you may still find yourself responsible for a high co-pay. Luckily, there are other ways to save.

Related: EpiPen Savings Tool

Use Generic Auto-Injectors

There used to be no generic versions of EpiPen available, which contributed to the high cost of epinephrine auto-injectors. Now, consumers have several alternative options:

  • Adrenaclick
  • Auvi-Q
  • Symjepi
  • Teva’s Epinephrine Auto-Injector

Depending on your insurance coverage, these generics can still sometimes end up being just as expensive as EpiPen. That said, Auvi-Q does have a savings program that offers the auto-injector for $0 to commercially insured, qualifying patients. Also, Teva offers a co-pay savings card, and CVS pharmacies sell Adrenaclick at a cash price of $109.99 for a two-pack.

It’s important to also be aware that these generics may have different injection procedures. You should always talk to your doctor or pharmacist about how to use your epinephrine injector. Some auto-injectors come with instructions, while others require you to order a trainer separately. Most manufacturers also post instructions on their websites.

Use a Prescription Discount Card

Unlike manufacturer coupons and patient assistance programs, prescription discount cards are available to everyone, and there are no requirements to meet. One of the big differences is that you cannot use a discount card in combination with your insurance coverage; you must use one or the other (usually patients will choose whichever one provides the lowest out of pocket cost). 

To receive a discounted price on your EpiPen, simply show your Rx savings card or mobile app when picking up your medication at a participating pharmacy.

Get a free Rx discount card today

Look for Manufacturer Coupons or Savings Programs

Mylan, the manufacturer of EpiPen, offers co-pay cards for commercially insured patients who qualify. These cards, also known as manufacturer coupons, can save you $300 on an EpiPen 2-Pak or $25 on a two-pack of the Mylan generic version of EpiPen. Additionally, Mylan offers a Patient Assistance Program. 

Manufacturer coupons and savings programs can make EpiPens affordable, but keep in mind that you must qualify for assistance. Visit the official EpiPen website for full requirements.

Compare Pricing Between Pharmacies

When it comes to getting the best price for your medications, you should compare different pharmacies in your area. You might be surprised at how much of a difference you find. There are many online tools that compare pharmacy prices automatically. 

Always be sure to check the cash price against your insurance co-pay. You may find that the cash price is actually better, especially if you use a savings program or discount card.

Check Your Insurance Coverage

If your insurance plan has a high deductible or doesn’t cover EpiPen, you may find yourself paying most or all of the cost of your auto-injector. Be sure to check your insurance formulary to see if a generic version of epinephrine auto-injector is covered. You can ask your doctor to write you a prescription for the generic, which will be just as effective as the brand name.

You could also file an appeal for coverage. The appeals process can be somewhat complicated, so ask your doctor if you’re unsure how to proceed. If your insurance company still denies coverage after you appeal, you have the option of filing an external appeal where a third party will decide the coverage.

We hope to see lower pricing for EpiPens in the near future. Until then, use the above strategies to access the lowest price possible on your medication. We recommend downloading or printing a free prescription savings card to have on hand whenever you shop for your prescriptions.

Start Saving Today!

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There are a variety of reasons to move your medications from one pharmacy to another. It could be that you found a better price, you’ve recently moved to a new area, or you’re looking for a location closer to your workplace. Regardless of the reason, transferring prescriptions between pharmacies is a straightforward process.

Here are the steps to transfer your prescription to a different pharmacy:

  1. Call or visit the new pharmacy to request an Rx transfer.
  2. Give the new pharmacy the names of all the medications you want to transfer, along with dosage and Rx numbers.
  3. Provide your current pharmacy’s contact information. The new pharmacy will contact your old pharmacy and take care of most of the process.
  4. Wait for the transfer to be completed, allowing at least 1-3 business days.

Information to Share with Your New Pharmacy

When you contact your new pharmacy, be sure you have your health and prescription information available. Specifically, you will need to tell the pharmacist:

  • Your full name and date of birth
  • Your address and phone number
  • All known allergies (food and medicines)
  • The names of all the prescriptions you’re transferring
  • The strength and dosage of your medications
  • Rx number for each medication (the 7-digit number on the top left of the label)
  • Phone number and address for your current pharmacy
  • Contact information for your prescribing physician

Allow the New Pharmacy to Handle the Transfer

After you let the new pharmacist know that you wish to move your medications, they will contact your current pharmacist and handle the transfer. If your prescription is out of refills, the pharmacist will also contact your doctor.

To expedite the process, you can check with your doctor and make sure you still have refills before reaching out to the new pharmacy.

Allow Enough Time for the Transfer

Although prescriptions can be moved to a different pharmacy quickly, you should still err on the side of caution and allow at least 1-3 business days for the switch to take effect. If you’re out of medicine and need a refill immediately, you might not be able to access it at the new pharmacy right away. It’s important to make sure you have a sufficient Rx pill supply before making the move.

Be Aware of Exceptions

There are certain prescriptions that cannot be transferred or have a limited number of transfers.

Schedule III, IV, and V medications are classified as controlled substances. You are only allowed one transfer with these types of medications, regardless of how many refills you have left. If you’ve run out of transfers, contact your doctor for a new prescription before attempting to switch pharmacies.

Some examples of Schedule III, IV, and V medications include Tylenol with Codeine, Xanax, and Robitussin AC or other cough suppressants with codeine.

Schedule II controlled substances are not able to be transferred at all due to the risk of substance abuse and dependency they pose. These medications also cannot be refilled, so your doctor will have to write you a new prescription whenever you run out. Examples of these substances include Adderall, Ritalin, and OxyContin.

Additionally, be aware that if any of your Rx medications have run out of refills, your doctor may require you to come in for an appointment before refilling the prescription.

Establish a Relationship with Your New Pharmacist

It’s important that you inform your new pharmacist of all medications and supplements you take, including over the counter medicines that may interact with your prescriptions. Your pharmacist is there to make sure you stay safe and manage your prescriptions effectively. You should establish a relationship with them so they can properly advise you on your medications.

Different Pharmacies Charge Different Prices

Did you know that patients commonly switch pharmacies because it allows them to save money? Many pharmacies charge different prices for the same prescription medication. Consider comparing your Rx prices at different pharmacies from time to time so you can be sure you’re getting the best deal possible.

Are your prescriptions cheaper at another pharmacy?


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