dangers of some drugs in older adults - scriptsave wellrx blog image

by Gabriel K. Rallison, PharmD Candidate Class of 2020,
University of Arizona College of Pharmacy

As we age, many of us may struggle to do things that were once so easy. With age, the way your body handles medication can change, too. Side effects may become more noticeable and last longer than they used to.

Potentially Inappropriate Medications for Older Adults

Due to these changes, the American Geriatrics Society published a list of medications that are potentially inappropriate for use by persons over 65 years old, commonly called the Beers Criteria.1

There are several common over-the-counter (OTC) medications on this list that should be avoided.

Antihistamines

The first OTC drug to avoid is diphenhydramine (Benadryl). Diphenhydramine is an antihistamine drug commonly used to treat cold and allergy symptoms and as a sleep aid. However, in older adults, diphenhydramine can cause very unpleasant and sometimes dangerous side effects. Side effects include confusion, dry mouth, difficulty urinating, constipation, and blurred vision.2 Diphenhydramine will often be found alone in products, or in combination with other medications. When buying cold or allergy medicine, make sure to check the active ingredient list to make sure it doesn’t contain diphenhydramine.

A sister drug to diphenhydramine, chlorpheniramine (ChlorTabs), can cause many of the same side effects in older adults and should likewise be avoided.3 As alternatives for treating cold and allergy symptoms, look for products that contain loratadine (Claritin), fexofenadine (Allegra), or cetirizine (Zyrtec).2 These are newer medications of the same type as diphenhydramine, but without the side effects that make diphenhydramine dangerous.

Aside from treating allergy symptoms, drugs from this class are also used to treat motion sickness. These drugs, including dimenhydrinate (Dramamine) and meclizine (Antivert), cause many of the same side effects are diphenhydramine and chlorpheniramine, and should likewise be avoided.1

Non-drug options for prevention of motion sickness should be used instead. To prevent motion sickness, current advice is to keep your eyes closed or looking at the horizon, while avoiding close-up visual tasks like reading when moving.4                      

NSAIDs

NSAIDs, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, are a class of medications including ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve).2 These drugs are generally used to treat mild to moderate pain, but also have side effects that become more noticeable and dangerous in older adults. NSAIDs can cause stomach ulcers, stomach bleeding, increased blood pressure, kidney damage, and can even make heart failure worse.3 Additionally, these medications can interact with blood thinner medications such as warfarin and increase your risk of bleeding.

While occasional use may not present as great a risk, regular use of either ibuprofen or naproxen should be avoided unless closely followed by your doctor. As an alternative to NSAIDs, you can use acetaminophen (Tylenol). When using acetaminophen, it is important to limit your dose to 1,000 mg or less per dose, and less than 3,000 mg per day to avoid causing liver damage. If you regularly drink alcohol, you should use even less acetaminophen.

Are There Other Medications Older Adults Should Avoid?

The medications mentioned are by no means an exhaustive list, and there may be other medications, OTC or prescription, that should be stopped or adjusted for use in older adults. You should never stop taking a prescription medication without first talking to the doctor who prescribed it, even if it is on the Beers Criteria.

Any questions you have concerning any prescription medication you may be taking should be directed to your doctor or pharmacist. Your pharmacist can recommend OTC medications to help treat what ails you while minimizing undesirable side effects. While we all get older, you can rely on the direction and training of health professionals around you to make the trip as comfortable as possible, helping to minimize the bumps along the way.

References

  1. For Older People, Medications Are Common; Updated AGS Beers Criteria® Aims to Make Sure They’re Appropriate, Too. (n.d.). Retrieved October 10, 2019, from https://www.americangeriatrics.org/media-center/news/older-people-medications-are-common-updated-ags-beers-criteriar-aims-make-sure.
  2. Eng, M. (2008, June 19). Potentially Inappropriate OTC Medications in Older Adults. Retrieved October 11, 2019, from https://www.uspharmacist.com/article/potentially-inappropriate-otc-medications-in-older-adults.
  3. Ten Medications Older Adults Should Avoid or Use with Caution. (n.d.). Retrieved October 11, 2019, from https://www.healthinaging.org/tools-and-tips/ten-medications-older-adults-should-avoid-or-use-caution.
  4. Brainard, A., & Gresham, C. (2014, July 1). Prevention and Treatment of Motion Sickness. Retrieved October 24, 2019, from https://www.aafp.org/afp/2014/0701/p41.html.


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measles vaccine image

by Gabriel Rallison, PharmD. Candidate, Class of 2020
University of Arizona

If you follow recent news, you’ve probably heard about measles outbreaks cropping up in California1, Washington2, and New York.3 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports, as of September 2019 there have been 1,241 confirmed cases of measles in the United States this year, a number already higher than the previous four years combined.4 With so many cases, this year marks the largest outbreak of measles in the United States in 27 years.5

What is measles?

Measles, also known as rubeola, is a viral disease that can lead to fever, cough, runny nose, and red, watery eyes.4 These symptoms will usually appear about 7 to 14 days after being infected, before which a person may not even know they are sick.

In addition, a few days after these symptoms start to show, a measles rash will appear. This rash normally starts on the face and spreads down the body, starting with small red spots that will merge over time. The rash will usually remain for about five days before fading away.

Why should I be concerned?

The measles virus is spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes, releasing viruses into the surrounding area. Once in the air, the virus can remain there for up to 2 hours, with anyone passing through the area at risk of breathing in the virus and getting sick.3,4

This virus is very contagious, which means that if exposed people are not protected by a vaccine, they have a 9 out of 10 chance of catching the disease!2 While measles is technically considered eliminated in the US, recent cases come from unvaccinated people traveling outside of the country, catching measles abroad, and bringing it home with them.1,2,4

Measles symptoms generally are not very severe, but this disease can have very serious complications including:

  • permanent hearing loss
  • severe lung diseases
  • swelling of the brain
  • pregnancy complications
  • death.4

Before the vaccine for measles was developed, over 3 million people were infected annually, with 48,000 hospitalized and 400 dying from measles and related complications each year.

How can I protect myself?

The best protection for measles is the vaccination.1,2,3,4 The measles vaccination is available as a combination vaccination with mumps and rubella, together called the measles-mumps-rubella or MMR vaccine.4

This vaccine works by teaching your body’s immune cells what to watch out for and helps prepare the body’s defenses for the viral attack. The vaccine is very effective, and when used as recommended is 97% effective at preventing measles.4

For most adults, the CDC recommends getting one dose of the vaccine, with certain conditions requiring a second dose achieve full immunity.9 In small children, the recommendation is to get one dose at 1 year old, and a second dose between 4 to 6 years old.9 The vaccine can and should be given to children under 1 year of age if planning on traveling internationally.3,9

Is the vaccine safe?

Yes, the MMR vaccine has been shown in repeated studies and trials to be safe and effective.2,3,6 While there have been concerns expressed that vaccines may cause autism, dozens of studies over the last 25 years including tens of thousands of patients have found no link between vaccines and autism.7,8

Additionally, the vaccine component purported to cause harm, a preservative called thimerosal, has never been a part of the MMR vaccine.6 The most common side effect of vaccines is redness and soreness at the injection site, and in rare cases a mild fever or rash may arise.4

Where can I get the vaccine?

The MMR vaccine is available at your doctor’s office or your pharmacy and is free of charge with most insurance plans.  If you don’t have a regular doctor or pharmacy, you can use https://vaccinefinder.org/ to find a location near you.10

Pharmacies are especially convenient, with 9 in 10 Americans living within 5 miles of a pharmacy.  At most pharmacies, no appointment is required, and your pharmacist can have you vaccinated and on your way in mere minutes. So then, what are you waiting for?

References

  1. Disneyland, Universal Studios Hollywood Visitors Reportedly Exposed to Measles. TIME. Aug 24, 2019. https://time.com/5660904/new-zealand-teenager-measles-southern-california/ Accessed Sept 20, 2019.
  2. Measles Cases Mount in Pacific Northwest Outbreak. NPR News. Feb 8, 2019. https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2019/02/08/692665531/measles-cases-mount-in-pacific-northwest-outbreak. Accessed Sept 23, 2019.
  3. US in danger of losing measles-free status, a ‘mortifying’ effect of anti-vax movement. USA Today. Sept 13, 2019. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/09/13/us-could-lose-measles-free-status-if-outbreak-continues-new-york/2300281001/ Accessed Sept 19, 2019.
  4. Measles (Rubeola). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. N.d. https://www.cdc.gov/measles/index.html Accessed Sept 19, 2019.
  5. U.S. measles cases reach highest level in 27 years. NBC News. May 31, 2019. https://www.nbcnews.com/health/kids-health/u-s-measles-cases-reach-highest-level-27-years-n1012401 Accessed Sept 23, 2019.
  6. Vaccine Safety. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. N.d. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/index.html Accessed Sept 20, 2019.
  7. Autism Occurrence by MMR Vaccine Status Among US Children With Older Siblings With and Without Autism. Journal of the American Medical Association. April 21, 2015. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2275444 Accessed Sept 23, 2019.
  8. MMR Vaccine Does Not Cause Autism: Examine the evidence! Immunization Action Coalition. N.d. http://www.immunize.org/catg.d/p4026.pdf Accessed Sept 23, 2019.
  9. Immunization Schedules. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. N.d. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/index.html Accessed Sept 19, 2019.
  10. Vaccine Finder. HealthMap.  N.d.  https://vaccinefinder.org/


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dangers of vaping and e-cigarettes - blog image

by Marcos Puente, PharmD Candidate Class of 2020
University of Arizona

If you have transitioned from regular cigarettes to electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) or vaping products for a safer and healthier alternative, you may want to reevaluate your decision. Until recently, many people believed that e-cigarettes and vaping were considered a “better” option compared to cigarettes because they do not release tar as well as other toxic gases found in cigarette smoke.5

Although many individuals have found that transitioning to e-cigarettes or vaping has helped with reducing their use of traditional cigarettes, and in some cases have helped cigarette smokers quit overall, recent cases of lung illnesses have raised the question: are e-cigarettes and/or vaping truly a better, safer alternative to traditional cigarettes?

An Epidemic of Lung Ailments

Vomiting, coughing, shortness of breath, and fatigue have been the most common signs and symptoms most individuals have complained about after vaping/using e-cigarettes within the last 90 days4. As of September 7, 2019, there have been at least 450 cases of an unknown lung disease possibly related to vaping, which has already claimed the life of three people across the nation. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are investigating extensively to pinpoint the exact cause of these lung disease outbreaks and if they are in anyway related to vaping and/or using e-cigarettes3.

What We Now Know

  • CDC and FDA are warning consumers about the vaping-linked lung disease
  • CDC is recommending avoiding e-cigarettes while the FDA is suggesting avoiding products that contain THC (marijuana compound that produces a high)3
  • It is still too early to pinpoint an exact cause or culprit for the outbreak of these lung illness cases3

Potential Cause of these Lung Illness Cases

Although an exact explanation has not been recognized as to what is causing these recent lung disease outbreaks, health investigators have linked vaping to the underlying cause of these lung ailment cases. A clinical psychologist from San Francisco, Dr. Danielle Ramo, suggests that certain additives in the vapor being released from these vaping products contain oils that can be highly dangerous and toxic if heated and inhaled.1 One of the oils being identified in many of these recent outbreak cases is vitamin E, which is commonly used as a supplement and topical moisturizer/cream. Although Vitamin E is safe when applied topically and consumed as a supplement, it can cause damaging effects when inhaled as smoke.3 Although not all vaping products and e-cigarettes contain these additives, it is sill highly recommended to avoid these products until further research and studies have been completed.1

What this Means to You

If you are currently using e-cigarettes or vaping as an alternative to traditional cigarettes, it is highly recommended to quit until a definitive cause is identified for the growing number of lung disease cases across the nation.4 It is too early to determine if a certain brand is responsible for these outbreaks or if the lung illness cases are related to a specific ingredient found in some products offered on the shelves, or possibly even a black-market product being sold which can potentially contain an unsafe chemical. Whatever the cause may be, quitting e-cigarettes and vaping overall can potentially decrease your risk of developing future lung disease (e.g. COPD, lung cancer).

Need Help Quitting?

There are services and support to help assist you in quitting vaping and/or using e-cigarettes. To get free, personalized support from an expert you can call 1.800-QUIT-NOW or 1.800.44U-QUIT to talk with a tobacco cessation counselor. There is also becomeanex.org, a website designed to help support and give you resources to help you quit smoking or vaping.2

Sources:

  1. Graff, Amy. “57 Cases of Lung Illness Linked to Vaping Reported in California, 1 Death.” SFGate, San Francisco Chronicle, 9 Sept. 2019, www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/vaping-California-acute-lung-disease-death-14424730.php
  2. “Imagine Your Life without Tobacco. Looks Great, Right?” Become An EX Smoker, Learn to Quit Smoking, Stop Smoking Cigarettes, www.becomeanex.org/.
  3. Lavito, Angelica. “What Should People Avoid Inhaling during Mysterious Lung Disease Outbreak? Health Officials Disagree.” CNBC, CNBC, 7 Sept. 2019, www.cnbc.com/2019/09/07/cdc-fda-clash-on-warning-consumers-during-lung-disease-outbreak.html.
  4. Richtel, Matt, and Denise Grady. “What You Need to Know About Vaping-Related Lung Illness.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 7 Sept. 2019, www.nytimes.com/2019/09/07/health/vaping-lung-illness.html
  5. Ross, John. “E-Cigarettes: Good News, Bad News.” Harvard Health Blog, 5 Aug. 2019, www.health.harvard.edu/blog/electronic-cigarettes-good-news-bad-news-2016072510010


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ScriptSave WellRx - personalized wellness KGUN 9 - image

TUCSON, Ariz. – A local Tucson company is developing an app to help you grocery shop in a healthier way. ScriptSave developed an app and web version of a service called “Personal Wellness” that gives you grocery purchase recommendations based on what health conditions you have.

They’ll partner with grocery stores, and you’ll visit the store’s website after you fill out your health profile on “Personal Wellness,” and it will recommend products. When you buy the products recommended from the app in store, you qualify for rewards like gift cards and free fitness products.

“Personal Wellness” will be completely free to use and will also pair with the prescriptions and non-prescription drugs people take.

The app will be available after pilot tests by the end of this year or early next year.

For the full story, visit KGUN 9.

3/28/2018


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

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Go Red For Women 2018 - American Heart Association

It’s a new year and you’re probably trying to do this “healthy” thing. You’re going for long walks or runs, limiting your donut calories and not smoking. You may be thinking you’ve eliminated your risk for, for heart disease, but wait. There’s more.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the biggest risk factors for heart disease include obesity, lack of exercise, smoking, high blood pressure or cholesterol, a poor diet, and stress.

For many women there are other factors for heart disease and stroke that you can’t control that may not even be on your radar. Your love life, a strong family history, race, and increasing age are all on the list of contributing factors.

CVS Health is continuing their support of the AHA’s Go Red for Women movement. They’ll be offering no cost “Know Your Numbers” health screenings at their MinuteClinics every Wednesday in February.

Visit a CVS MinuteClinic on February 14, 21, and 28 and receive a no-cost heart health preventative screening. If you go, you’ll get screenings to help determine your risk for heart disease – total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, and body mass index (BMI).

A list of CVS MinuteClinic locations is available on the MinuteClinic website. For more information on the AHA Go Red for Women movement, visit GoRedForWomen.org.

Click to read the CVS press release.


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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Doctor speaking to patient about medications

TUCSON, AZ–(Marketwired – Aug 9, 2017) – VUCA Health announced today that ScriptSave, a provider of prescription savings solutions and decision support tools helping close the gaps in prescription coverage, will employ its on-demand medication video library to improve medication information and drive better care outcomes for ScriptSave WellRx members.

ScriptSave’s prescription savings program, along with VUCA’s innovative video service, will work together to increase prescription medication adherence by providing patient education in an easy to consume format, thus improving care while enhancing and simplifying the member experience.

Improving Medication Adherence

“It is well documented that two of the key pillars for medication adherence are providing access to affordable medications and the information they need to feel empowered about taking them,” said Shawn Ohri, Vice President, Business Development, ScriptSave. “By implementing VUCA’s on-demand video library, our members can receive accurate health information, in a format that is easy to understand and accessible anytime, anywhere.”

In partnering with VUCA, ScriptSave WellRx members will have access to a robust library of prescription-specific video briefings that deliver information on top-prescribed medications, including proper usage, expected benefits and potential side effects. The videos, available in English and Spanish, are integrated into the ScriptSave WellRx mobile app and website.

“VUCA’s innovative visual education paired with the latest advances in technology is helping individuals across the United States understand how to practice safe administration of their prescription medication,” said VUCA Health CEO David Medvedeff, PharmD, MBA. “By coupling this service with applications like ScriptSave WellRx, members can instantly access their medication information and leverage valuable resources to enhance their overall medication experience.”

About ScriptSave

For more than two decades, ScriptSave has been closing the gaps in healthcare and prescription coverage with innovative savings programs, like ScriptSave WellRx, for the uninsured, under-insured, and insured. Pharmacies, employers, health plans, and other organizations across the nation rely on ScriptSave to deliver prescription savings to their members and customers — yielding $1.3 billion in consumer savings in 2016 alone.

ScriptSave WellRx is recognized and approved by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy® (NABP®). Our pharmacy recognition lets consumers know that ScriptSave WellRx meets standards set by a global coalition that includes International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) and NABP, which has supported the United States boards of pharmacy in their goal of protecting the public health since 1904.

ScriptSave is a member of the MedImpact, Inc. family of companies. For more information, visit www.wellrx.com. Follow us: @SSWellRx (Twitter), Scriptsavewellrx (Facebook).

About VUCA Health

Based in Lake Mary, Fla., VUCA Health (www.vucahealth.com) provides a gateway to patient engagement that serves as an on-demand extension of pharmacists and other healthcare providers. The company’s MedsOnCue solution leverages advanced mobile, web and on-demand video and communication technologies to deliver trusted patient information that enhances the medication use process. It offers a convenient and cost-effective way for clients to provide on-demand patient medication information and strengthen customer connections with video briefings, web messaging, reminders and alerts and a host of other customizable services that extend and enhance the patient relationship.

Contact Information

You can find the original press release here.


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