Is coronavirus contagious - image

Update: As of April 21, 2020, the CDC says there have been 802,583 reported COVID-19 cases in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the US Virgin Islands, resulting in 44,575 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 may appear between 2-14 days after exposure to the virus and may include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

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.
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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.

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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.

Organize your prescriptions with WellRx app

References:

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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!
Request prescription discount cards for employees - ScriptSave WellRx

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.

Get a free Rx discount card today


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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.

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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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by Jamie L. Voigtmann, PharmD Candidate 2019
Saint Louis College of Pharmacy

There are many aspects in life that can decrease prescription fill rates. This in turn causes medication non-adherence, where patients are unable to take their medications regularly as prescribed by a physician. It’s a common and costly problem across America.

What Prevents Patients from Filling Prescriptions?

Barriers to medication adherence include lifestyle preferences, fear or uncertainty about the effectiveness of new medications or adverse reactions, The complexity of instructions and or drug regimens, personal beliefs, and insufficient funds also come into play.1 Patients who have insufficient funds to pay for medications include, not only decreased socioeconomic status, but also all patients that qualify as low-income based on age, gender, race, location, and family size. Patients who have financial restrictions will commonly delay prescription refills, as well as subsequent copays, by splitting pills, taking pills every other day, or even discontinuing medications on their own. This is because many chronic conditions require multiple medications for treatment and many medications are expensive even with insurance.1

The Low-Income Populations Includes Elderly Patients

As mentioned previously, low-income patients not only include race, location, and family size, but also age. As patients become ≥ 65 years old they are most likely dependent on Medicare for health insurance coverage, since it is offered through the government. Elderly patients who experience decreased prescription fill rates have been associated with having increased out-of-pocket costs with prescription medication coverage, lower net worth, and lower household incomes.2 This is important to consider because as patients age their health often declines, indicating more need for medications. It is also imperative to think about this aspect as many Baby Boomers fall into this category, increasing the number of patients sharing Medicare benefits.

Which Types of Medications Do Low-Income Patients Struggle To Get?

A common misconception is that patients with low-income only have trouble affording newer novelty medications, such as HIV, Hepatitis C, and oncology medications. With these types of medications, many patients including the middle and upper economic classes struggle to pay for the medications due to the outstanding drug cost dictated by the manufacturers. Low-income patients also struggle with common health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and high cholesterol. Patients who are in a lower socioeconomic class experience significantly less control over their asthma and commonly experience increased exacerbations compared to patients who belong to a higher economic class.3

When considering Type-2 Diabetes Mellitus, patients with high-incomes had increased compliance to treatment regimens including diet, exercise, and medications.4 The high-income patient’s also checked their A1c more often and were associated with higher self-care ability.4 Finally considering cholesterol medications, a recent study showed that low-income patients were willing to give up their cholesterol medications if a copay was present because the benefits are not commonly felt unlike insulin for diabetes or lisinopril for increased blood pressure.5

Low-Income vs. High-Income Prescriptions

It is interesting to realize what types of medications low-income patients are filling at the pharmacy, compared to high-income patients. According to The New York Times, high-income patients receive more cosmetic medications to treat baldness, erectile dysfunction, wrinkles, and eyelashes.6 These patients were also more likely to purchase medications to treat mental health.6 They also had more prescriptions for birth control pills due to a consistent prescription from a regular doctor.6 Medications that are more commonly received by low-income patients include HIV and Hepatitis C, most likely due to lack of education in transmission and poor access to healthcare.6

Lowering Overall Drug Costs

Overall, the relationship between income and prescription fill rates at the pharmacy is much more complicated than low-income patients having decreased prescription adherence.6 Different patients are more likely to develop certain diseases or illnesses that would increase healthcare costs. Patients also differ on when they seek medical attention, resulting in a significant cost even before a physician writes a prescription.6 Regardless of income, it’s important to treat patients with as few medications as possible while still treating chronic conditions to help lower overall drug costs for all patients.

References:

  1. Mishra SI, Gioia D, Childress S, Barnet B, Webster RL. Adherence to medication regimens among low-income patients with multiple comorbid chronic conditions. Health Soc Work. 2011; 36(4): 249–258.
  2. Zivin K, Ratliff S, Heisler MM, Langa KM, Piette JD. Factors influencing cost-related nonadherence to medication in older adults: a conceptually based approach. Value Health. 2010; 13(4): 338-45.
  3. Bacon SL, Bouchard A, Loucks EB, Lavoie KL. Individual-level socioeconomic status is associated with worse asthma morbidity in patients with asthma. Respir Res. 2009; 10: 125.
  4. Habib F, Durrany AM. Effect of age and socio-economic status on compliance among type 2 diabetic patients. Curre Res Diabetes & Obes J. 2018; 7(3): 555714.
  5. Watanabe JH, Kazerooni R, Bounthavong M. Association of copayment with likelihood and level of adherence in new users of statins: a retrospective cohort study. J Manag Care Pharm. 2014; 20(1): 43–50.
  6. Quealy K, Sanger-Katz M. The prescription drugs that rich people buy. The New York Times. February 7, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/07/upshot/income-strong-predictor-drug-purchases-serious-diseases.html. Accessed March 9, 2019.

 


Download the free WellRx app from the iOS app store or the Google Play Store,
and get registered to take advantage of our free medication adherence tools.

If you’re struggling to afford your medications,
visit www.WellRx.com to compare the cash discount price at pharmacies near you.
You may find prices lower than your insurance co-pay!

 

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by Katie Tam, PharmD Candidate,
University of Arizona College of Pharmacy

In October 2017, Acting Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Eric D. Hargan issued a statement declaring a nationwide public health emergency regarding the opioid crisis.1 The opioid epidemic in America has become a top priority in efforts to prevent opioid overuse.

Opioids are a drug class that includes heroin, oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, fentanyl, and many other prescription pain relievers. These medications can carry serious risks, like addiction, overdose, and even death.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reported that more than 42,000 people died from overdoses involving opioids and estimated 40% of opioid overdose deaths involved a prescription opioid.2

New Medicare Part D Opioid Overutilization Policies

To help you use prescription opioid pain medications more safely, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has recently introduced new regulations in the Medicare part D prescription drug program. Using recommendations made by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on prescribing opioids for pain, CMS developed new safety measures. Here are some key points that are crucial to understand:

  1. New Opioid Users: Your Medicare drug plan and pharmacist will do safety reviews of your opioid pain medications when you fill a prescription. If you are a new opioid user, you may be limited to a 7 day supply or less. The hope is to reduce the risk of longer-term opioid misuse through closer management of opioid naïve patients.2 This policy will affect Medicare patients who have not filled an opioid prescription within the past 60 days and will prevent pharmacies from filling a new opioid prescription exceeding a 7 days supply.2
  2. Limited Opioid Amount: During the safety review, your pharmacist will also look for potentially unsafe opioid amounts and drug-drug interactions that may increase your risk of overdose. If your pharmacist decides that your total opioid prescription dose is not safe, the plan may limit your coverage of these drugs. This alert will identify patients that may benefit from closer monitoring and care coordination and encourage doctors to educate patients about opioid overdose risk and prevention.3
  3. High-Risk Opioid Users: This new regulation allows Medicare drug plans to implement a drug management program (DMP) that limits access to opioids and benzodiazepines (used for anxiety and sleep) for patients at high risk of opioid abuse.3 High risk patients will need to obtain their opioids from specified doctors or pharmacies. Before Medicare places you in a DMP, it will notify you by letter. The goal of this program is to identify potential at-risk patients and provide better care coordination for safer use of opioids and benzodiazepines.3

Opioid Policy Exclusions

The new opioid regulations do not apply to patients with cancer, those who get hospice, palliative, or end-of-life care, or who live in a long-term care facility. Also, patients who use the medication-assisted treatment (MAT) program will not be impacted by these new policy changes.2

About 115 patients die every day from an opioid overdose. Because opioid addiction is driving this epidemic, the hope is that these new regulations will reduce the negative impacts of the epidemic on Americans.4 If you suffer from severe or long-term pain, talk with your doctor about all your pain treatment options including whether taking an opioid is appropriate for you. There may be other ways to manage your pain with less risks.

Resources:

  1. HHS Acting Secretary Declares Public Health Emergency to Address National Opioid Crisis https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2017/10/26/hhs-acting-secretary-declares-public-health-emergency-address-national-opioid-crisis.html
  2. A Prescriber’s Guide to the New Medicare Part D Opioid Overutilization Polices for 2019. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Prescription-Drug-Coverage/PrescriptionDrugCovContra/RxUtilization.html. Accessed January 20, 2019.
  3. CY 2019 Final Call letter. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Health-Plans/MedicareAdvtgSpecRateStats/Downloads/Announcement2019.pdf. Accessed January 20, 2019.
  4. Dowell D, Haegerich TM, Chou R. CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain — United States, 2016. MMWR Recomm Rep. 2016;65:1-49, available at http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.rr6501e1.

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by Katy Winkel, PharmD Candidate Class of 2019
University of Kansas School of Pharmacy

Many of us have had a relative, friend, or coworker who gets their medications from Canada. For many of us, this sparks a stream of questions: “Are Canadian medications legit? How are medications approved in Canada? Is it legal to buy prescription medications from Canada?” You may be surprised to discover that Canada and the United States (U.S.) are very similar in their drug approval process; some may even say they are near identical.

Similarities between the U.S. and Canadian drug approval process

Both Health Canada and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have processes which drug companies must follow in order to get medications approved. Both processes have three phases of clinical trials as well as a post-marketing phase.1 Even though the processes are so similar for prescription medication approval, it is still illegal to import drugs or devices into the U.S. for personal use.3 The FDA’s reasoning behind this is that they cannot ensure “safety and effectiveness” of the medications being imported. Many of you may then be asking, “What if it’s a medication like Lisinopril that is already approved in the U.S.?” This is a gray area and even the FDA is vague on the topic saying these are “circumstances in which the FDA may consider exercising enforcement discretion and refrain from taking legal action against illegally imported drugs.”4

Why are Canadian medications so much cheaper?

The Patented Medicine Prices Review Board (PMPRB) “protects and informs Canadians by ensuring that the prices of patented medicines sold in Canada are not excessive and by reporting on pharmaceutical trends.” Furthermore, Canada has a law that states the price of a new medication, first of its kind, cannot exceed the median price for the rest of the world.2 As discussed above, the Canadian drug approval process is just as rigorous as the U.S., therefore if you decide to purchase from a Canadian pharmacy, one way to verify that it is legit is to look for the pharmacy license number to be shown on the website.2 Unfortunately, the United States is the only industrialized country that doesn’t utilize price controls for pharmaceuticals resulting in astronomical drug prices. The U.S. federal government reported that in 2012, around 5 million Americans had purchased drugs outside the U.S.

Over-the-Counter Medications

Along with cheaper prescription medications, Canada also has cheaper over-the-counter (OTC) medications, too. However, unlike prescription medications, it is legal to buy OTC medications from Canada.5 To determine whether the product is legit, look for the product label to contain an 8-digit Drug Identification Number (DIN), which means it has met Canadian standards for safety, quality, and effectiveness.5

“The Food and Drug Administration is responsible for protecting the public health by ensuring the safety, efficacy, and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, and medical devices;”3 therefore the safest option is to obey the FDA regulations.

If you’re having trouble affording your medications, try the free ScriptSave WellRx price comparison tool to see if we can help you save. The ScriptSave WellRx program is freeto all patients, and the price-check tool is available 24/7, without the need for an account or any personal details. In other words, the program can be used risk-free and with nothing to lose. We even provide free medication management tools, refill reminders and an “Ask a Pharmacist” helpline. We’re doing our best every day to help patients get safe, hassle-free savings.

 

References:

  1. “Comparison: Canada and United States.” National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 8 Feb. 2018, clinregs.niaid.nih.gov/country/canada/united-states#_top.
  2. Kirschner, Chanie. “Why Are Pharmaceuticals Cheaper in Canada?” MNN – Mother Nature Network, Mother Nature Network, 5 June 2017, https://www.mnn.com/health/fitness-well-being/questions/why-are-pharmaceuticals-cheaper-in-canada
  3. Office of Regulatory Affairs. “Import Basics – Personal Importation.” U S Food and Drug Administration Home Page, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, 3 Aug. 2018, https://www.fda.gov/forindustry/importprogram/importbasics/ucm432661.htm
  4. Osterweil, Neil. “Buying or Importing Prescription Drugs: Laws and Regulations.” WebMD, WebMD, www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/features/letter-and-spirit-of-drug-import-laws.
  5. Canada, Health. “Regulation of Non-Prescription Drugs.” ca, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, 21 Feb. 2018, https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/self-care-regulation-non-prescription-drugs.html

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by Terra Leon, PharmD Candidate 2019

Tamiflu (oseltamivir) is a prescription medication used in the treatment of influenza in patients 2 weeks and older. It can also be indicated as prophylaxis treatment from the flu and reduce the chances of getting the flu in patients 1 year and older1.

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How does Tamiflu work?

Tamiflu (oseltamivir) is a prodrug, meaning that the drug is metabolized into the active drug after it is administered. Prodrugs are beneficial when the active drug itself has low availability in circulation and is not absorbed well in the stomach. Prodrugs are designed to not only increase the amount active drug in circulation, improve elimination but they also can reduce adverse effects or unintended side effects. Once Tamiflu is metabolized into the active drug, the active drug blocks replication of the virus in the body3. Tamiflu stops the replication process of the influenza virus in your body, it does not cure you of the flu rather it shortens the duration of flu like symptoms in the body by about 1-2 days.

Looking for the best Tamiflu price?

Can everyone use Tamiflu?

Tamiflu (oseltamivir) is recommended in patients for treatment of influenza who are 2 weeks and older and is to be initiated within 48 hours of influenza symptom onset2. Tamiflu may also be prescribed for patients who were exposed to a confirmed flu diagnosis within 48 hours of close contact with the infected individual2. Patients who use Tamiflu >48 hours of symptom onset or exposure may still benefit from the medication, specifically children4. A study was done in children indicating that if Tamiflu was administered within 5 days of symptom onset that overall flu symptoms were reduced by 1 day when compared to placebo4.

Tamiflu side effects

The main side effects patients experience while using Tamiflu are headache, nausea and vomiting3. Please seek medical attention if you have any serious skin and hypersensitivity reaction.

Misconceptions about Tamiflu

Tamiflu will cure me of the flu

Most patients have the misconception that Tamiflu will cure them of the flu, when in reality the medication works by reducing the number of days with flu like symptoms. There is not direct cure for the flu since it is a viral entity, like the common cold. All we can do is treat our symptoms to ease the burden of the virus on the body. The most effective way to protect yourself from the flu is to receive your flu vaccination annually.

Tamiflu is a replacement for the flu shot

Tamiflu or any antiviral medication is not a replacement treatment for the flu vaccine itself. Receiving the flu vaccine is the primary defense to protect yourself from the flu. Antiviral medications are second line when the flu vaccine is not available or contraindicated for the individual4. Most insurance companies will cover the flu vaccine at little to no cost at all where Tamiflu (oseltamivir) can cost anywhere from $50-$135 depending on insurance and quantity needed5. That being said, receiving the flu vaccine protects you from the unwanted flu symptoms as well as the unwanted cost of medication, doctor office visits, and valuable time off work and school.

When I take Tamiflu I cannot get sick

There is no evidence that Tamiflu has any effect on any other illness in the body that does not contain influenza viruses, including bacterial infections. Some bacterial infections can initially present as influenza, it is important to be tested for influenza before starting Tamiflu as the sole treatment2. Always follow up with your doctor if you suspect a secondary bacterial infection in order to be treated appropriately.

Resources:

  1. “Fever, aches, chills. Check your symptoms and learn more about a prescription flu treatment.” Tamiflu.havaswwsfdev.com. 2019. 15 Jan. 2019 <https://www.tamiflu.com/>.
  2. Tamiflu Prescribing Information. 2018. 15 Jan. 2019 <https://www.gene.com/download/pdf/tamiflu_prescribing.pdf>.
  3. “Tamiflu (oseltamivir).” Facts & Comparisons. 15 Jan. 2019 <https://fco.factsandcomparisons.com/lco/action/search?q=tamiflu&t=name&va=>.
  4. “Influenza (Flu).” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 22 Nov. 2013. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 15 Jan. 2019 <https://www.cdc.gov/flu/news/flu-antiviral-benefits.htm>.
  5. “Tamiflu (oseltamivir).” ScriptSave Wellrx.  Feb 2019 https://www.wellrx.com/prescriptions/tamiflu/

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In the world of prescription drug insurance, there are medications that are covered by a health plan and some medications that are not covered. The list of drugs that are covered is known as the Prescription Drug Formulary (or “Formulary” for short).

What is a Prescription Drug Formulary?

If you’ve ever visited a pharmacy with a prescription in one hand and your insurance card in the other, only to be told that your medication is not covered by your insurance … but if your doctor is willing to change the prescription to a similar drug used to treat the same condition … you have first-hand experience of a Prescription Drug Formulary.

The formulary is a list of approved medications for which an insurer has agreed to help cover the cost. However, there might be multiple manufacturers of numerous drugs designed to treat the same condition. This is an opportunity for the insurance company to trim costs by only agreeing to cover one drug for each health condition.

For pharmaceutical manufacturers, this can be a very big deal to be included or excluded from an insurer’s formulary list. Accordingly, each health plan generally reviews its coverage list on an annual basis. This helps ensure they continue to get the best possible price-points for the competing medications that are available to treat high-cost health conditions.

For patients, this can mean that, each year, they may discover the drug they had been taking is no longer covered. This may require them to switch to an alternative medication to continue receiving help paying for the medication from their insurance provider.

Prescription Formulary Changes for 2019

At the time of this write-up, the calendar is fast approaching year-end, and new insurance plan-years for 2019. Many formulary lists are likely to change. Two of the largest managers of prescription drug formularies in the U.S. are Express Scripts and CVS Caremark. Here are the details of the medications these two companies are REMOVING from their lists for 2019:

Acanya  Humatrope  Saizen 
Acticlate  Invokamet XR  Savaysa 
Alcortin A  Invokamet  Sorilux 
Alocril  Invokana  Sovaldi 
Alomide  Jentadueto XR  Synerderm 
Alprolix  Jentadueto  Targadox 
Altoprev  Lazanda  Tirosint 
Atripla  Levicyn  Topicort spray 
Avenova  Levorphanol  Tradjenta 
Benzaclin  Lupron Depot-Ped  Uroxatral 
Berinert  Mavyret  Vagifem 
Brisdelle  Maxidex  Vanatol LQ 
Brovana  Nalfon  Vanatol S 
Cambia  Namenda XR  Veltin 
Chorionic Gonadotropin Neupro patch  Verdeso foam 
Climara Pro  Norco  Viagra 
Contrave ER  Norditropin  Vivelle-Dot 
Cortifoam  Nutropin AQ Nuspin  Xadago 
Daklinza  Nuvigil  Xerese cream 
Duzallo  Olysio  Xyntha Solofuse 
Eloctate Omnitrope  Xyntha 
Emadine  Onexton  Yasmin 
Embeda  Oxycodone ER  Zemaira 
Extavia  Pradaxa  Ziana 
Fasenra  Praluent  Zolpimist 
Fenoprofen (capsule) Pred Mild  Zomacton 
Fenortho  Pregnyl  Zonegran 
Flarex  Prolastin-C  Zuplenz 
FML Forte  Qsymia  Zurampic 
FML S.O.P.  Recombinate  Zypitamag

If your medications are listed above (and if your insurer uses Express Scripts or CVS Caremark to manage their formulary) you can speak to your doctor or pharmacist about alternative medications designed to treat the same health condition. You can check these alternatives against your insurer’s new formulary list for 2019.

What If My Drugs Are Excluded?

It may also be worth double-checking the cash-price (i.e., the price without insurance) for your current medication. You can do this by clicking the drug name link in the list above. This can be a worthwhile effort, as the cash-price can often be lower than an insurance copay [Read more about Always Ask Cash Price]

What If I Can’t Switch to a Covered Alternative Drug?

If you’re unable to switch medications, you may be able to get some help from the FREE ScriptSave WellRx program. We negotiate savings on the cash-prices of medications at over 65,000 retail pharmacies across the United States. Patients can save up to 80% (relative to the cash price of their prescription).

Our price-check tool is available for free — no sign-up necessary. Go to www.wellrx.com or download the ScriptSave WellRx mobile app on iOS and Android to see how much you’ll save on your prescription costs!


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