Do you have GERD - blog image

by Misgana Gebreslassie, PharmD Candidate,
Class of 2020 University of Colorado

Roughly 18 to 26% of Americans have GERD, and the majority are adults between the ages of 30 to 60 years. GERD is a short for gastroesophageal reflux disease, a condition where stomach fluid (acid) backs up into the esophagus (the tube connecting the mouth and the stomach) and causes aggravating symptoms.

Other names that you may have heard for GERD are acid reflux or heartburn. Often acid reflux is caused by muscle weakness of the lower esophageal sphincter, a valve that lets food and drinks into the stomach. [1,2,6]

What are the symptoms of GERD?

Symptoms are typically present after eating and can be different from person to person. The most common ones are: [1,6]

  • Heartburn or burning in the chest
  • Sour taste or burning feeling in the throat
  • Stomach pain
  • Difficulty swallowing food or choking
  • Sore throat or hoarse voice
  • Cough that is not relived by anything
  • Spitting up
  • Frequent burping
  • Asthma

How is GERD treated?

Treatment of acid reflux include lifestyle changes, antacids such as Tums, or stronger stomach acid suppressants like histamine 2 receptor antagonists (H2RAs) or proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). [2,3]

Changes to diet or lifestyle can help control symptoms of heartburn and the following changes can be helpful: [2,3,4]

  • Stay away from foods and beverages that can lead to acid reflux or heartburn. Foods and beverages like: coffee, alcohol, chocolate, fatty foods, spicy foods, and citrus fruits/juices
  • Raise the head of your bed 6 to 8 inches
  • Try eating smaller portions and avoid sleeping or lying down within 3 hours of eating a meal
  • Lose weight. Being overweight can contribute to GERD
  • Stop cigarette smoking
  • Wear loose fitting clothes

Do Antacids Treat GERD?

Antacids work by neutralizing or reducing the acidity of the stomach. They are used for milder symptoms and are taken as symptoms occur to relieve heartburn symptoms.  These drugs can affect the absorption of other drugs. Always ask your pharmacist to check for interactions with your current medications as well as how and when to take them.[4]

What Other Drugs Can Treat GERD?

Histamine 2 receptor antagonists (H2RAs) work by suppressing acid secretion in the stomach. They are stronger than antacids in controlling heartburn symptoms. Overall, they are very well tolerated.[3]

Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) also work by suppressing acid secretion in the stomach. They are used when heartburn symptoms are not well controlled by H2Ras or when symptoms are troublesome affecting quality of life.

PPIs work best when taken on empty stomach half an hour before the first meal of the day. PPIs may alter the way some drugs work. Ask your pharmacist or doctor to check for interactions with your current medications before taking them.[5]

Medicine
Type
Generic
Name
Regulatory
Status
Brand
Name
AntacidsCalcium CarbonateOTCTums
Aluminum hydroxide, magnesium
oxide and simethicone
OTC Maalox
Histamine 2 receptor antagonistsCimetidine OTC Tagamet
Famotidine OTC Pepcid
Nizatidine OTC Axid
Ranitidine OTC Zantac
Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs)EsomeprazoleRxNexium
DexlansoprazoleRxDexilant
Lansoprazole15mg – OTC Prevacid
Omeprazole OTC Prilosec
Omeprazole + sodium bicarbonate OTC Zegerid
PantoprazoleRxProtonix
RabeprazoleRxAciphex
OTC = over the counter (without prescription); Rx = prescription only; * Regulatory status obtained from FDA website [7]

All antacids and H2RAs are available over the counter whereas this would only apply to some PPIs. Sometimes these medicines are cheaper without a prescription. If cost is a concern for you ask your pharmacist to help you find ways to reduce your medication cost.[7]

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References:

  1. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). In DynaMed Plus [database online]. EBSCO Information Services. http://www.dynamed.com.proxy.hsl.ucdenver.edu/topics/dmp~AN~T116914/Gastroesophageal-reflux-disease-GERD. Updated April 26, 2019. Accessed on 8/8/10/2019
  2. Patient education: Acid reflux (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) in adults. The Basics. In: UpToDate. [Internet]. Published place unknown: UpToDate; 2019 [cited date unknown). Available from  https://www-uptodate-com. Accessed on 8/10/2019
  3. Kahrilas PJ. Medical management of gastroesophageal reflux disease in adults. In: Talley NJ & Grover S (Editors). UpToDate. [Internet]. Published place unknown: UpToDate; 2019 [cited March 28, 2018]. Available from: https://www-uptodate-com. Accessed on 9/10/2019
  4. Vakil NB. Antiulcer medications: Mechanism of action, pharmacology, and side effects. In: Feldman M & Grover S (Editors). UpToDate. [Internet]. Published place unknown: UpToDate; 2019 [cited March 22, 2018]. Available from: https://www-uptodate-com. Accessed on 9/10/2019
  5. 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
  6. Kahrilas PJ, Shaheen NJ, Vaezi MF, et al. American Gastroenterological Association Medical Position Statement on the Management of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. Gastroenterology. 2008 Oct;135(4):1383-1391
  7. Over-The-Counter (OTC) Heartburn Treatment. U.S. Food & Drug Admiration. https://www.fda.gov/drugs/drug-information-consumers/over-counter-otc-heartburn-treatment. Published date unknown. Updated on March 5, 2018. Accessed 8/10/2019


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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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by Nikki Buzzelli

Diagnoses, treatments, surgeries. At every stage of your health journey, finding a professional second opinion, gaining new perspectives or searching for different resources, in your community or online, is one of the best ways you can advocate for yourself as a patient.

While the medical community agrees second opinions aren’t necessary in every case–a cold is most likely a cold–most doctors recommend a second opinion in certain cases, and some insurance companies cover them. A good second opinion could save you time, money, even your life.

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Seeking a Second Opinion

A few reasons to seek a second opinion are, if:

  • Your doctor is not a specialist or familiar with your condition. Specialists are dedicated to their field and can ask questions and notice symptoms so subtle others may miss.
  • You feel your concerns aren’t taken seriously. Mental health is as important as physical health and that starts with medical teams that listen to you, the patient.
  • You’re not confident in your diagnosis or treatment plan. Doubt, gut feelings, or intuition can all be enough reason to seek another opinion. You know best what is working for your body, or how well a diagnosis “fits.”
  • You’ve completed treatment and haven’t improved. Studies show our brains follow the same train of thought over time, creating natural blind spots in the way we think. Doctors are no exception. A fresh perspective could find a misdiagnosis or bring new skills that could lead to the correct treatment.

If you feel you want or need a second opinion, it’s easier than most people think. The important thing is to find a medical professional you are confident in and comfortable with.

You can ask your doctor for their recommendation or do your own research with the help of your insurance company. Make sure to get copies of your medical records to share with your new doctor. You’ll also want to compile lists of all the prescriptions you are taking, any relevant test results, and your past and current treatment plans.

Whether it’s a new approach or a different way of thinking about treatment, second opinions give you information necessary for you to make the best decisions about your health.

It’s clear we benefit from second opinions on treatments; but when’s the last time you thought about getting a second opinion on medical costs, like prescriptions?

The Two-Second Second Opinion

The ScriptSave WellRx app is the free, two-second ‘second opinion’ in your pocket that brings you lower prescription drug costs by negotiating drug prices with independent and chain pharmacies in bulk. Sometimes for even lower than your insurance cost.

Now, instead of taking the number at the pharmacy register at face value, one simple search shows you the out-of-pocket price for your prescriptions with a variety of discounts, all available for you to choose from. And because you can access WellRx online or through the app, it’s easier than ever to find the second opinion on prescription costs you need in real-time.

Simply go to WellRx.com, type in your or your family’s prescription and dosage information, and WellRx will find the biggest savings from the closest of over 65,000 pharmacies. The only thing you have to do is save your discount and show it to the pharmacist at the register. No extra costs, no sign ups, just the everyday savings you and your family needs.

See for yourself the difference a second opinion can make.

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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.

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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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stress hurts your health image

by Cherokie Dyer, PharmD Candidate,
Class of 2020, University of Florida

When was the last time you felt stressed?

Stress is so common that there is an organization called, “The American Institute of Stress.” According to this group, there are 50 common signs and symptoms of stress. Many of the signs we think about when it comes to stress are difficulty making decisions, excessive anxiety, worry, guilt, and nervousness. Other common signs include increased frustration, irritability, and edginess. We can determine these signs based on our interactions with people. But… did you ever think about what stress is doing to your body on the inside?

How does Stress affect the body?

Stress can be a good thing in an emergency. It turns on your ‘fight or flight’ response. This gives you that ‘adrenaline rush’ feeling, which is the release of cortisol and epinephrine. Stress raises your blood pressure, makes your heart beat faster, and boosts sugar levels in your blood. It can also slow down your digestive tract, make your muscles tense up, and make your breathing become more rapid. All these bodily reactions are great to help you act during a crisis.

However, it’s not good when our bodies are constantly flooded with stress for a long period of time.

  • Heart racing and blood rushing may cause inflammation in arteries and lead to heart attacks or strokes.
  • Constant boosts in blood sugar can affect insulin and lead to pre-diabetes.
  • An impaired digestive tract can keep the body from getting valuable nutrients and lead to hard or loose stools.
  • Constantly tensed muscles can cause tension headaches and migraines.
  • Rapid breathing can cause hyperventilation and lead to panic attacks.
  • Increased cortisol may cause the body to hold on to belly fat.
  • These reactions can start to make the menstrual cycle irregular or lower sperm counts.
  • Stress can also affect eating patterns making us want to eat more or less than usual.

Believe it or not, constant stress can wreak havoc on our body in a multitude of other ways. Especially if you already have medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, or obesity. Your constant stress could very well be the thing that’s preventing your medications from helping you get better.

Two Key Strategies to Manage Stress

Try to prevent it and cope with it when it comes. Figure out the things that trigger your stress. Do your best to avoid them or work around them. For instance, if leaving on time for work stresses you out, invest in a new alarm or get up even earlier to give yourself more time.

There are other ways to prevent stress besides just avoiding your triggers.

  • Carve out some more alone time for yourself
  • Do more of the things that you bring you joy
  • Make the effort to get near 8 hours of sleep
  • Eat more fresh foods and whole foods
  • Avoid stimulants like caffeine.

If you are already feeling stressed out, then there are a ton of options that you can try:

  • Calming activities like prayer, yoga, massages, and/or deep breathing
  • Active movements like going for walks, jogs, lifting weights, or taking group classes like kickboxing
  • More of your favorite hobby, listen to music you like, play with your pet more often, or participate in volunteer work.

The options are endless and there is no correct answer!

Bottom Line

Stress can be negative for both our sanity and our bodies. There are a variety of ways to deal with stress. Identify when you feel the most stressed out. Do your best to avoid that trigger and/or cope with those feelings, and your body will thank you in return.

References

https://www.stress.org/stress-effects
https://www.stress.org/military/combat-stress/management
https://www.stress.org/daily-life



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transfer a prescription

The internet is a convenient option for purchasing many necessities, but can you fill your prescriptions online? In many cases, yes. There are generally two ways to fill a prescription online:

  1. Use an online pharmacy or mail-order pharmacy to fill your prescription; the pharmacy then mails you the prescribed medications.
  2. Use the patient portal on your pharmacy’s website to request an Rx refill online, and then pick up your medicine in person.

How Online and Mail-Order Pharmacies Work

An online or mail-order pharmacy allows you to order your medications over the internet (or by phone) and have them mailed directly to you. This is a convenient option but there are some drawbacks. Your medications take longer to arrive so you want to be sure you keep up with your refills. Some, but not all, online pharmacies have automatic refills available.

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Is It Safe to Buy Medication Online?

There are legitimate online pharmacies, and it is generally safe to use them. However, there are also several safety risks with online pharmacies. You may come across unethical companies that operate in a risky or even illegal manner. They may sell you counterfeit medications, drugs that aren’t FDA-approved, or medication that is expired or defective.

Unreputable online pharmacies may even sell Rx meds to people who don’t have a prescription. Be especially careful with international pharmacies. There are strict federal laws against importing certain substances from a foreign country.

How to Protect Yourself When Using Online Pharmacies

To protect yourself, watch out for these red flags.

  • Lack of contact information. Always check the website for contact information and verify that there is a U.S. address and valid phone number listed. Try calling the number to see if it is legitimate.
  • Availability of drugs without a prescription. If the pharmacy does not require a prescription to complete your transaction, or it advertises that you can obtain drugs without a prescription, do not go through with your order.
  • Drugs that are not FDA-approved. If you see any drugs that haven’t been approved by the FDA, stay away from the pharmacy.
  • No pharmacist available to answer questions. A reputable pharmacy will employ one or more licensed pharmacists to answer your questions.
  • Lack of a valid U.S. license. The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NAPB) verifies online pharmacies that are properly licensed. Look for a VIPPS (Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites) seal and a “.pharmacy” website domain.

Do Online Pharmacies Save You Money?

Many people turn to online pharmacies to save money. Some legitimate online pharmacies offer discounted prices on medications, but many cut corners to offer discounts. The drugs may not be properly manufactured and as a result, may be too strong or too weak.

Rather than focusing only on price, you should focus first on safety. Once you have a list of reputable online pharmacies, then you can compare pricing.

Some online or mail-order pharmacies allow you to use discount drug programs when ordering your medication. Call or chat with a customer support representative and see if they accept any savings programs. For example, PillPack and Health Warehouse accept the ScriptSave WellRx prescription discount card.

Online Patient Portals

Online patient portals are offered through a traditional brick-and-mortar pharmacy like Walmart or CVS. These online portals offer a convenient way to request Rx refills from your home, office, school, etc. Once your prescription is filled, you must go to the pharmacy in-person to pick up your medication.

Patients can still use a pharmacy discount card with these portals. Simply bring your card or mobile app with you to the pharmacy when picking up your medications.

Rx Savings On The Go

ScriptSave WellRx is dedicated to negotiating discounted prices on as many medications and at as many pharmacies as possible. If you’re struggling to afford your medication, try downloading our mobile app. It allows you to search and compare drug prices to find the best discount in your area.

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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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Treatment for Depression and Anxiety: The Fight to End Suicide

by Cherokie Dyer, PharmD candidate class of 2020,
University of Florida

Alarming Suicide Statistics

Over the past 17 years, rates for death by suicide has dramatically risen here in the United States. From 1999 to 2016, 25 states had over a 30% increase in their suicide rates. There’s rarely any one reason for someone to commit suicide. However, most suicides are attributed to life stressors, loss of a relationship, and a recent or approaching crisis. Another huge contributor is the presence of a mental health disorder such as depression or anxiety.

In the year of 2017, the CDC states that there were:

  • 44,965 suicide deaths
  • 13.9 suicide deaths per every 100,000 people
  • 39% of adults 18 and older had serious psychological distress in the past 30 days
  • 56.8 million physician visits resulted in mental, behavioral, and neurodevelopmental disorders as a diagnosis
  • 5.5 million emergency room visits were due to mental health disorders

The Good News

The amount of people being treated for depression and anxiety disorders is also rising. In 2012, the World Health Organization stated that 350 million people across the globe were affected by depressive disorder. This is followed with an increase in diagnosis and treatment of these disorders.

Common Anti-Depressant and Antianxiety medications include:

Brand Name Generic Name Drug Class
Zoloft Sertraline Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor
Lexapro Escitalopram Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor
Prozac Fluoxetine Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor
Wellbutrin Bupropion Dopamine/Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitor
Cymbalta Duloxetine Serotonin/Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitor
Effexor Venlafaxine Serotonin/Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitor
Pristiq Desvenlafaxine Serotonin/Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitor
Remeron Mirtazapine Alpha-2 Antagonist
  Amitriptyline Tricyclic Antidepressant

It’s great that more people are getting help for their mental health conditions. The increase in people getting treatment will help to decrease the number of people wanting to harm themselves. If you have sought treatment for anxiety or depression or know someone who sought treatment, I am so happy! Everyone’s life is valuable. If you or someone you know suffers from anxiety or depression and hasn’t yet felt comfortable seeking treatment, don’t hesitate. The awareness of these conditions and options for treatment are expanding; set up an appointment to talk about what you are experiencing.

Things to Remember about your Antidepressants or Antianxiety Meds

These medications take time to work. In many cases, you won’t see an effect until after about 1 month. Taking your medications as prescribed can help strengthen their effectiveness and prevent side effects like dizziness, fatigue and nausea. If significant time passes and you still don’t feel any better, ask your doctor to try you on another medicine. Never quit these medicines abruptly as this can result in bothersome, and sometimes serious withdrawal symptoms. Be sure to follow your doctor’s instruction to taper these medications if it’s determined that they need to be stopped.

Outside of Medicine

Outside of prescription medication, these are 3 valuable ways to improve mental health. Incorporating these changes along with your medication can also increase their effectiveness.

Nutrition: Your body makes all your brain chemicals from the food you eat daily. That’s your protein, complex carbohydrates (fruits, veggies, whole grains), and good fats. If you don’t eat this kind of balanced diet, you may consider taking a daily multivitamin.

Sleep: Getting close to 8 hours of sleep each day gives your body the time to make more brain chemicals. It’s the best opportunity for your body to fix and replace other cells like the nerves and muscles.

Exercise:  Daily exercise improves your brain activity and increases the release of brain chemicals. A great example would be going for a brisk walk outside. The movement, along with getting at least 10 minutes of sun each day, is another great way to both exercise and get your daily vitamin D allowance. Not to mention exercise is a good way to relieve anxiety and avoid personal stressors! 

Suicide Lifeline

If you or someone you know are thinking about harming themselves in any way, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can also text HOME to 741741 to receive texts from the Crisis Text Line. If you feel there is an emergency, you should always call 911 or go to the nearest hospital.

References:

Suicide Prevention websites:

https://www.crisistextline.org/

https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

Statistics:

https://www.grandviewresearch.com/industry-analysis/anxiety-disorders-and-depression-treatment-market

https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/mental-health.htm

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/67/wr/mm6722a1.htm?s_cid=mm6722a1_w

Medication and Nutrition information:

https://www.fda.gov/consumers/free-publications-women/depression-medicines-help-you

http://www.martiefankhauser.com/


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narcan for opioid addiction image

by Jennifer Bingham, PharmD, BCACP & Stephanie Forbes, PharmD

The Prescription Opioid Addiction Epidemic

Pain is complex and the sensation and intensity can vary among individuals who are suffering, so there are many treatment options — mind-body techniques, acupuncture or physical therapy, and medications, both over the counter and prescription. For many patients with severe pain from injuries or surgery, opioid painkillers are supposed to provide pain relief, but because they have been heavily marketed and inappropriately prescribed, there has been an ever increasing number of deaths throughout the U.S. caused by misuse and addiction.

What is Narcan®?

Narcan® (naloxone hydrochloride) is an opioid antidote.1 It is indicated for patients that has suspected opioid overdose symptoms, such as respiratory and central nervous system depression.1 It is available in two formulations, including injectable and nasal preparations. The nasal spray contains one dose per unit,1 hence it is important to contact 9-1-1 for emergency medical assistance once opioid overdose is suspected to ensure additional assistance is available if needed. 

Who Should Use Narcan Nasal Spray?

Narcan nasal spray is intended for use by people who are experiencing an opioid overdose or are showing signs of opioid overdose.2,3 As mentioned above, it’s use is not a substitute for emergency medical care. Whenever administering Narcan, always call 9-1-1 right away.  Since it is an opioid antagonist, Narcan only works to reverse the effects of opioids, both prescription and non-prescription. Some examples of opioids it reverses are morphine, codeine, opium, hydrocodone, heroin and methadone.4

Who should have Narcan Nasal Spray?

People who receive Narcan are typically taking high doses of opioids for pain management over a long treatment period.2,5 Additionally, those taking extended-release or long-acting opioid medications or receive rotating opioid medication regimens may also have Narcan.   Patients who have a known hypersensitivity to naloxone hydrochloride should not use Narcan.1 Narcan access (needing a prescription) varies across states and the medication should be replaced before the expiration date passes.5

How to Store Narcan Nasal spray?

Narcan nasal spray should be stored in the blister and cartons provided until use.1 A controlled room temperature between 59°F to 77°F with protection from light is recommended for storage, and the product should not be frozen. The nasal spray may be stored at temperatures outside of this range (39°F to 104°F) for brief periods of time only.

Ask your pharmacist if you should talk to your provider about Narcan.

References:

  1. Narcan Nasal Spray (naloxone hydrochloride) [prescribing information]. Radnor, PA: Adapt Pharma Inc; January 2017.
  2. Naloxone. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. https://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment/treatment/naloxone/. Last Updated April 11, 2019; Accessed June 3, 2019. 
  3. Coffin, Phillip MD, MIA. Prevention of lethal opioid overdose in the community. UptoDate®. Last Updated June 25, 2018. Accessed June 3, 2019.
  4. What Are Opioids. Department of Health and Human Services. https://www.hhs.gov/opioids/prevention/index.html. Last Updated May 15, 2018. Accessed June 4, 2019
  5. Opioid Overdose Reversal with Naloxone. National Institute of Drug Abuse. https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/opioid-overdose-reversal-naloxone-narcan-evzio/. Last Updated April 2018, Accessed June 3, 2019.

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benzer pharmacy partners with scriptsave wellrx

TAMPA, FL (June 27, 2019) – Benzer Pharmacy Holding, LLC announced today they will partner with ScriptSave® to provide their customers ScriptSave WellRx Premier, which offers discounts on prescription medications, medicine adherence tools, and drug interaction alerts. ScriptSave Prescription Savings Programs have helped consumers save more than $10 billion over the past 25 years.

Grocery Guidance, Medication Management and Prescription Savings

scriptsave wellrx benzer pharmacy app imageScriptSave WellRx Premier is a technology enabled prescription savings and medication management program. ScriptSave WellRx Premier not only delivers prescription discounts to Benzer Pharmacy customers, it will also provide new tools that promote medication adherence and Grocery Guidance to find healthier foods aligned with the customer’s health goals.

“This program is sure to help all Benzer customers, not just those who are uninsured,” Meghann Chilcott, Chief Technology and Marketing Officer for Benzer Pharmacy. “We encourage every customer, regardless of their health care coverage, to keep a card on-hand to reduce out-of-pocket prescription costs.”

Take Your Medicine and Refill Reminders

Customers can download the free WellRx Premier mobile app, which shows the lowest medication prices at local pharmacies, provides helpful medication information and images, grocery guidance for help reaching dietary goals, direct pharmacist support through “Ask a Pharmacist”, and medication reminder tools to promote adherence and wellness, or simply visit the website.

”We sincerely appreciate our relationship with Benzer Pharmacy, and we are excited to provide them with our innovative products. A value-added program, like ScriptSave WellRx Premier, attracts new customers and creates loyalty with existing customers. We look forward to sharing other new ScriptSave solutions with Benzer in the near future,” said Dan Johnson, Vice President of Network Strategy for ScriptSave.  

About ScriptSave:

For 25 years, ScriptSave has been closing the gaps in prescription coverage with innovative savings and adherence programs, like ScriptSave WellRx, for the uninsured, under-insured, and insured. ScriptSave WellRx is designed to boost medication adherence by providing cost saving opportunities, information, prescription management, and reminders. Millions of Americans use ScriptSave products – yielding more than $10 billion in consumer savings on prescriptions.

Twitter: @SSWellRx

Facebook: Scriptsavewellrx

About Benzer Pharmacy:

Founded in 2009, Benzer Pharmacy is a chain of independent retail pharmacies specializing in compounding and specialty medication. Currently, there are 82 corporate-owned and 34 franchise locations situated throughout 29 states, including Florida, Michigan, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Georgia, Nevada, Louisiana, New York, Missouri, Mississippi, Maryland, Ohio, Indiana, and Idaho. Projections call for continued rapid growth as the organization seeks to substantially increase its customer base, while ensuring experiences match expectations at every touchpoint.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BenzerPharmacy

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/benzerpharmacy

Instagram: https://instagram.com/benzer_pharmacy

ScriptSave Contact:

Dan Johnson, Vice President of Network Strategy ScriptSave
djohnson@scriptsave.com


 

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ScriptSave WellRx Marks Silver Anniversary –
25 Years of Prescription Savings, Totaling $10 Billion, and a Brand New Innovation to Help Patients Who View Food as Medicine

A new analysis from the prescription discount program, ScriptSave WellRx, has revealed the savings from the company’s pioneering efforts to lower out-of-pocket costs for millions of patients paying cash for their prescriptions. The results: more than $10 billion dollars of savings, as the company marks its Silver Anniversary with the release of a brand new module that can assist patients with their grocery choices.

Founded in 1994, ScriptSave has been a pioneer and innovator, leading the way in terms of creating tools and programs designed to help un- and under-insured patients better afford their medications. Working in close collaboration with many of the nation’s pharmacy and grocery chains, ScriptSave has created incredible savings opportunities for patients.

With the latest update to the ScriptSave WellRx mobile app, ScriptSave has announced a new wellness-focused tool that provides grocery guidance. Using the new tool, consumers can check:

  • ensure the foods they are eating are consistent with their goals for general wellness
  • choose foods better aligned for pregnancy
  • select appropriate foods for other health conditions, including heart health and diabetes.

Users of the app can even find similar food options that are better aligned with their needs. As with most other programs and offerings from ScriptSave, the ScriptSave WellRx app (and the new grocery guidance toolset) is available to users at no cost.

Prescription Savings - ScriptSave WellRx

ScriptSave Never Stops Innovating

scriptsave wellrx food index imageOther pioneering innovations that are also available (free) in the latest app release include:

  • geo-targeted price-drop alerts for prescriptions medications, allowing users to see when the prices for their own medications come down at nearby pharmacies;
  • medication refill and ‘take your pill NOW’ reminders, helping to ensure prescribed medication adherence, and;
  • medication interaction alerts, to flag possible life-threatening drug or lifestyle interactions.

The newest release of the ScriptSave WellRx app, can help guide shoppers while they browse the aisles at the grocery store or as they take stock of their pantry. It’s a clear expansion outside of ScriptSave’s traditional domain. Moving beyond just pharmacy and prescription medications, the grocery guidance module can guide users towards more health-conscious food selections. It’s designed to help users concerned with chronic conditions like diabetes or heart health, and can help identify appropriate food selections for pregnant women.

These latest innovations to the app’s features are the result of more than two years of ongoing product development. Along the way, the team even managed to pick up a few awards for prototype versions of the app (including as a category winner at the 2017 National Association of Chain Drug Stores’ Product Showcase). ScriptSave’s Vice President of Product & Technology, Shawn Ohri, noted that the timing of this release to coincide with ScriptSave’s Silver Anniversary could hardly seem more fitting or rewarding to the team.

$10 Billion Saved

Meanwhile, an in-depth analysis of the traditional prescription savings programs that ScriptSave has been evolving throughout the course of its 25 years of innovation, shows how the business has helped an estimated 85 million patients in the US save a total of $10 billion on their prescription medication costs. In 2018 alone, the prescription discount program saved consumers $450 million on medications.

ScriptSave WellRx’s free savings cards and prescription coupons—which can be found online or in the mobile app—can help save patients up to 80% on their medications, with average savings of around 60%. In terms of dollars and cents, the average cash saved by patients using ScriptSave WellRx in 2018 was $30.85 per prescription.

Ohri noted that with the ever-increasing prices of medication in the US, ScriptSave WellRx is helping patients pay for the medications they need to not only get over a cold or fever but, in some cases, survive.

“This is our 25th anniversary, and during those years we’ve helped patients save $10 billion on prescriptions they need to get and stay healthy,” said Ohri. “Our prescription discount programs help consumers save money they can use on other critical expenses, like keeping the roof over their heads, putting food on the table for the family and buying school supplies for their kids. We continue to operate with a start-up mentality, bringing new and innovative solutions to help people manage their health and wellness.”

WellRx Mobile App Helps Consumers Find Lowest Prices at the Pharmacysrciptsave wellrx price drop alerts - image

At its core, ScriptSave WellRx negotiates drug prices in bulk with pharmacies across the nation, giving it access to pricing information for most prescription drugs being sold at independent and chain pharmacies. Consumers can access this data at no cost with the free ScriptSave WellRx mobile app and website.

This provides a fast, easy, free way for patients (and physicians) to get a second opinion on what an out-of-pocket cost might be. Patients can price-check all their family’s medications at most pharmacies in any zip code with just one click.

The price-check tool is available for free—no sign-up necessary—and features savings on medications at over 65,000 retail pharmacies across the U.S. In 2018, the program delivered average savings of 60%, with potential savings of 80% or more (relative to the cash price of those prescriptions being filled).

Patients can download the free ScriptSave WellRx mobile app (for iPhone and Android) or visit the website for more information.


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