by Derek Matlock
Pharm.D. Candidate 2017
Washington State University

Nearly one-quarter of all U.S. deaths in 2016 we­­­re linked to heart disease, which refers to conditions involved in narrowing or blocking blood vessels, potentially leading to things like heart attack, chest pain, or stroke.

A Steady Decline in Stroke Deaths

Despite the continued and steady decline of deaths due to strokes, they continue account for 1 of every 20 deaths in the US. The decline of deaths due to strokes can be attributed to early identification of strokes, primary prevention, and secondary prevention.

Signs of a Stroke

FAST stroke acronym explained - image - ScriptSave WellRx

As a patient or caregiver, is it important to be able to identify the signs of a stroke as early as possible, as it can influence a positive outcome in patients at risk. The FAST acronym can be a simple and easy tool for identifying a stroke.

 

Face: Does the face look uneven? Ask them to smile.

Arm: Does one arm hang down? Ask them to raise both arms.

Speech: Does their speech sound strange? Ask them to repeat a phrase.

Time: Every second brain cells die. If any of these signs are observed, call 911.

Primary Prevention of a Stroke

Primary prevention refers to the management or treatment of patients who have no prior history of stroke. It involves addressing modifiable risk factors a patient may have, which may include: high blood pressure, diabetes, dyslipidemia, atrial fibrillation, sickle cell disease, post-menopausal hormone replacement therapy, oral contraceptives, diet, weight and body fat.

 

Additionally, your doctor or pharmacist may calculate your Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease (ASCVD) risk score, which estimates a 10-year risk of heart attack or stroke and helps determine the appropriateness of using medications to lower your risk. Some medications that may be added include: statins for cholesterol; thiazide diuretics, ACE inhibitors (ACEIs)/angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs), or calcium-channel blockers (CCBs) for blood pressure; and aspirin to help prevent blood clot formation.

Secondary Prevention of a Stroke

Secondary prevention refers to the treatment of patients who have already had a stroke or “mini-stroke.” Interventions commonly prescribed for secondary prevention are summarized using the following ABCDE acronym:

Antiplatelets and Anticoagulants: Antiplatelet medications, like aspirin, clopidogrel, and dipyridamole, can prevent formation of clots. Anticoagulants like warfarin, apixaban, rivaroxaban, and dabigatran can also reduce the ability for the blood to clot and thus lower stroke risk.

Blood pressure-lowering medications: Thiazide diuretics, ACEIs/ARBs, and CCBs help patients control the number one risk factor for a recurrent stroke, high blood pressure.

Cessation of cigarette smoking and Cholesterol-lowering medications: Quitting smoking can significantly lower the risk of strokes, while cholesterol-lowering medications, like statins (e.g., simvastatin, rosuvastatin, atorvastatin), have been shown to lower bad cholesterol as well as decrease the risk of recurrent stroke and mortality.

Diet: In addition to helping weight loss, following a heart healthy diet, or a low-sodium “DASH diet”, may help lower cholesterol, triglycerides, or blood pressure, which decreases your risk of a stroke.

Exercise: For patients capable of exercising, it is recommended to exercise moderately to vigorously for 20 to 40 minutes 3-4 times per week. Be sure to stay within your limits. Good exercises can include walking or riding an exercise bike. Some community centers and gyms even host classes for older patients with physical limitations.

Strokes Still a Significant Cause of Death

Strokes continue to account for a significant amount of deaths in the United States. Your doctor or pharmacist may recommend lifestyle modifications and medications to help lower the possibility of experiencing a new or recurrent stroke. If you are being prescribed medications to lower your stroke risk, be sure to provide your doctor with a thorough medical history and medication list, as some conditions and medications may guide the recommendations your doctor makes. Your pharmacist can also be a valuable resource to any questions you may have.

 

References:

  1. American Heart Association: Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics 2017
  2. Mayo Clinic: Heart Disease
  3. MedicalNewsToday: Top 10 Causes of Death in the U.S.
  4. Medscape: Stroke Prevention
  5. UpToDate: Overview of Primary Prevention of Coronary Heart Disease and Stroke
  6. UpToDate: Overview of Secondary Prevention of Ischemic Stroke

If you’re struggling to afford your medications,
visit WellRx.com to find Rx discounts at pharmacies near you.
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Cystic Fibrosis breathing treatment - image - ScriptSave WellRx

What is Cystic Fibrosis (CF)?

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a complex genetic disease that affects the lungs, digestive system, reproductive tract, and sweat glands. In the United States, roughly 30,000 people are living with cystic fibrosis, and another 1,000 are being diagnosed with the disease each year. Most CF patients are diagnosed by age two.

Cystic fibrosis is a progressive condition, involving body’s mucus glands1. Despite its widespread effects on the body, the majority of patients in United States suffer from lung complications with CF. These patients cannot removes excess mucus from their lungs which can lead to the accumulation of thick, viscous secretions1. Mucus accumulation is often a breeding ground for bacterial growth. Children and adolescents with CF often have decreased growth, which could be caused by a combination of malabsorption, decrease in appetite, and increase in energy expenditure due to this condition2. Some CF patients do not make adequate pancreatic enzymes, which are needed to help the body absorb the fat soluble vitamins A,D, E, and K. These vitamins are essential for body growth, immune function, and reproductive health.

Dietary Supplementation

It is important for CF patients to eat a proper diet. They often require a higher caloric intake than other people. Pancreatic enzymes should be replaced if the patient is diagnosed with pancreatic insufficiency. These are some examples of targeted nutrients and/or pharmacological agents that are used in practice:

Non-Pharmacological Nutrients in Cystic Fibrosis3,5

  • Omega 3 fatty acids to lower inflammation.
  • Probiotic supplement to improve digestion.
  • Anti-inflammatory foods, such as extra virgin olive oil, avocadoes, walnuts, and flaxseed oils.
  • Sodium – patients with CF are prone to sodium loss. However, they should carefully monitor their blood pressure if their doctor recommends a high sodium diet.
  • Fluoride – vitamins formulated for the CF patient do not contain fluoride. It is essential to feed them fluoride supplement.
  • Zinc – CF patients under the age of two, who have inadequate growth despite the proper nutrient support, should be evaluated for zinc deficiencies.

Treatments for Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis treatment strives to help patients reach a better quality of life by improving breathing and lung capacity. Devices, like oscillatory positive pressure, remove the mucus and secretions of the lungs. Hypertonic saline can be used to increase air flow into the lungs and break up mucus. Breathing exercises and physical therapy can help dislodge the mucus in the chest and promote better breathing4.

Symptoms of Lung Complications in CF Patients

Force expiratory volume (FEV1) is a measure of how much air a person can exhale in a forced breath, and is a good indicator of lung function. It’s an easy, convenient method for monitoring lung function at home. FEV1 below individual goal is the indication of reduction in pulmonary function3. In young children, viruses are the cause of acute exacerbations leading to a decline in pulmonary functions. Diagnosis of pulmonary exacerbations is based on decline in individual health condition with pulmonary symptoms, as compared to recent baseline health status3. Symptoms that are commonly present include:

  • New or increased cough
  • Increase in sputum production or chest congestion
  • Increased fatigue
  • Decreased appetite
  • Changes in sputum appearances

Pharmacological Treatments

CF patient are at a severe risk for influenza infection. Prophylaxis or treatment with oseltamivir (Tamiflu) or zanamivir (Relenza) is often recommended under certain circumstances6. Annual vaccination against viral influenza is recommended to all patients with CF six months and older6.

Many patients with CF have chronic bacterial infection of lungs because of the thick viscus mucus accumulation. Systemic antibiotics are indicated to all patient with CF if they experience new or increased cough, and changes in the color of their mucus, which can indicate bacterial presence due to unnecessary mucus accumulation in the lungs. Antibiotic selection will depend on the results of a sputum culture.

Patients with the CF should focus on the type of food they consume to ensure they are getting proper nutrients. Daily use of the FEV1 is important, which helps to clear the mucus and prevent possible infections.

References:

  1. Cohen, T. S., & Prince, A. (2012). Cystic fibrosis: a mucosal immunodeficiency syndrome. Nature medicine, 18(4), 509-519.
  2. Borowitz D, Baker RD, Stallings V. Consensus report on nutrition for pediatric patients with cystic fibrosis. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr 2002; 35:246.
  3. Reilly JJ, Edwards CA, Weaver LT. Malnutrition in children with cystic fibrosis: the energy-balance equation. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr 1997; 25:127.
  4. Rosenfeld M, Emerson J, Williams-Warren J, et al. Defining a pulmonary exacerbation in cystic fibrosis. J Pediatr 2001; 139:359.
  5. Stallings VA, Stark LJ, Robinson KA, Feranchak AP, Quinton H, Clinical Practice Guidelines on Growth and Nutrition Subcommittee, Ad Hoc Working Group J Am Diet Assoc. 2008;108(5):832.
  6. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/cystic-fibrosis-overview-of-the-treatment-of-lung-disease?sectionName=Influenza%20vaccine&anchor=H20&source=see_link#H20

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

 

 

 

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Prevent shingles - ScriptSave WellRx image

by Alyssa Kasher
PharmD Candidate of 2018

It’s likely you’ve heard about shingles, or may even know someone who has had the painful rash, but what exactly is shingles, and how can you prevent it? The varicella-zoster virus (VSV) causes two distinct forms of infection, chickenpox and shingles. It’s important to recognize how you can contract this virus and what you can do to protect against it.

If You’ve Ever had Chickenpox, You Can Develop Shingles

A primary VSV infection occurs when you’re first exposed to the virus, referred to as varicella or chickenpox. Chickenpox is a highly contagious condition spread through direct person-to-person contact, sneezing, or coughing. Most people recognize it from the itchy blisters or “pox” that appear all over the body.  In healthy people, the condition is mild and resolves within 5-10 days1.  As chickenpox resolves, the varicella-zoster virus retreats into the nerve cells and goes into hiding. The virus’s ability to evade the immune system allows it to lay dormant until future reactivation1. Although anyone previously infected with chickenpox will carry VSV in their system, not everyone will experience the virus’s reactivation.

According to the CDC, 1 in 3 Americans will experience the reactivation of the VSV. When this occurs, it manifests as a secondary infection called herpes zoster or shingles1. The virus travels down a nerve and produces a patch of painful lesions on the skin that may permanently scar or discolor the skin.

Shingles is More Dangerous Than Chickenpox

As the infection moves down the nerve, it causes inflammation resulting in damage or cell death2. This causes the most painful and lasting effect of the infection, called peripheral neuropathy or nerve pain. Inflammation may also occur in the eyes and the brain causing serious and potentially fatal complications1. Shingles is more dangerous than chickenpox, especially because it usually occurs in older people who may have weaker immune systems with less ability to fight off the infection.

How Can You Prevent Shingles? Vaccination

The first vaccine to prevent the primary VSV infection, or chickenpox, was not developed until 1995. This means much of the older population has been exposed to chickenpox. Zostavax, the first vaccine to prevent the reactivation of the virus (shingles), did not come out until 20064.  Many people may have already received the Zostavax vaccine. However, a better vaccine has taken its place.

Shingrix: A Better Way to Prevent Shingles

In the fall of 2017, Zostavax was replaced by Shingrix as the CDC recommended vaccine to best prevent shingles and related complications. Shingrix, unlike Zostavax, is not a live vaccine and cannot cause shingles. Shingrix is given in two doses, and is over 90% effective at preventing shingles3. The CDC recommends that everyone over the age of 50 of receive Shingrix. You should get the Shingrix vaccine if you have already had shingles, previously received Zostavax or if you’re not sure you had chickenpox as a child. Studies show that 99% of Americans over 40 have been exposed to the chickenpox virus whether they realize it or not3.

Patient populations at the highest risk of shingles include:

  • those over 50
  • immunocompromised patients
  • females
  • anyone with underlying chronic lung and kidney disease.

Facts About Shingrix3

  • After your first dose of Shingrix, you should receive the second dose within 2-6 months.
  • You can receive the vaccine at your community pharmacy without a prescription.
  • Shingrix is covered by Medicare Part D. Ask your pharmacist to see if your plan covers it.
  • Shingrix can cause injection site soreness and pain. Using ibuprofen or Tylenol can help.
  • Talk to your pharmacist or doctor to see if Shingrix is right for you.
  • Always discuss all conditions/medications with a doctor or pharmacist before getting a vaccine.

References

  1. Albrecht, MA. Clinical manifestations of the varicella-zoster virus infection: Herpes zoster. In: Basow DS, ed., UpToDate. Waltham (MA).: UpToDate; 2016.
  2. Albrecht, MA. Epidemiology and pathogenesis of varicella-zoster virus infection: Herpes zoster. In: Basow DS, ed., UpToDate. Waltham (MA).: UpToDate; 2016.
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vaccines & Preventable Diseases. Vaccines by Disease. Shingles. Retrieved at https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/shingles/public/zostavax/index.html. Accessed 2018 Jan 22.
  4. Immunization Action Coalition. Chickenpox (Varicella): Questions and Answers. Retrieved at: https://www.immunize.org/catg.d/p4202.pdf. Accessed 2018 Jan 22.

If you’re struggling to afford your medications,
visit www.WellRx.com to compare the cash price at pharmacies near you.
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Treating and preventing osteoporosis - image - wellrx

by Tek Neopaney, University of Arizona College of Pharmacy Student

Each year, millions of Americans, who may otherwise feel fine, are diagnosed with Osteoporosis. Developing osteoporosis puts people at higher risk for fractures, especially in the hips, spine, and wrists. Women are at much higher risk, with 10 percent of women age 50 and older affected by osteoporosis, compared with just two percent of men that age.

What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is defined by low bone mass that results in decreased bone density, and bones become more prone to fracture. Osteoporosis often has no symptoms until there is a bone fracture. Bone strength decreases with the loss of bone mass, which is related to many factors such as, a decrease in bone mineral density, rate of bone formation and turnover, and the shape of the bones.

Postmenopausal women often have low bone density due to estrogen deficiency. With early diagnosis of bone loss and fracture risk, available therapies can slow or even reverse the progression of osteoporosis and help prevent bone fracture1. Vertebrae and hip fracture is common in osteoporosis patients. About two-thirds of the bone fractures are asymptomatic2, meaning patients won’t even be aware they have a fracture. Many patients without symptoms assume they don’t have osteoporosis, so it’s important for all post-menopausal women to get an osteoporosis evaluation.

Calcium Vitamin Supplements

If you are unable to achieve adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D from diet alone, you should take supplements for bone growth and development. Children ages 9 to 18 should consume approximately 1300 mg of calcium per day from calcium rich food sources, and 600 mg of vitamin D from vitamin D-fortified food. Children who have a wide variety of foods in their diet, and are growing well, should not need calcium and vitamin D supplementation3. Calcium and vitamin D supplementation likely only benefits children with inadequate calcium and vitamin D intake3.

Most postmenopausal women with osteoporosis, 1200 mg calcium (total dietary and supplement) and 800 international units of vitamin D are recommended. Although optimal intake of calcium (diet plus supplement) for pre-menopausal women and men with osteoporosis is not established, generally suggested doses are 1000 mg of calcium (diet and supplement) and 600 international units of vitamin D4.

Exercise – It’s Important!

Exercise is strongly associated with a reduction in hip fractures in older women5. Regular exercise has shown to have positive effect on bone mineral density (BMD). BMD is the measure of calcium in your bone. In studies, a variety of exercises such as, jogging, resistance training, swimming, and walking were effective. Women with osteoporosis should exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, three days a week, to build bone strength and help prevent fractures. Exercise helps to increase muscle strength, reducing the risk of fracture from fall.

Pharmacological Therapy

In addition to lifestyle measures and calcium and vitamin D supplementation, patients at high risk for fractures should also receive drug therapy. Patients with a history of fragility fracture or osteoporosis based on BMD, benefit from medication. All patients treated with medication should have a normal calcium and vitamin D level prior to starting drug therapy, and should also receive vitamin D and calcium supplements if their dietary source is inadequate6.

Oral bisphosphonates such as, alendronate (Fosamax), ibandronate (Boniva) are the first line of therapy for postmenopausal women. These agents decrease the rate of bone breakdown leading indirectly to an increased BMD. Bisphosphonates are effective, inexpensive, and have long-term safety data on preventing hip and vertebrate fracture6. These drugs are usually taken once a weekly.

Putting it All Together

With so many Americans developing osteoporosis, it’s important to realize it could happen to you, so talk to your doctor about your risks. To help prevent, and possibly reverse Osteoporosis:

  • Bond density screening is important to detect osteoporosis
  • Get enough calcium and Vitamin D in your diet or take supplements to help prevent osteoporois
  • Exercise helps build bone mass and strengthen your bones
  • There are available drugs to treat osteoporosis that are inexpensive and have proven safe to take over time.

References:

  1. Cosman F, de Beur SJ, LeBoff MS, et al. Clinician’s Guide to Prevention and Treatment of Osteoporosis. Osteoporos Int 2014; 25:2359.
  2. World Health Organization. Assessment of fracture risk and its application to screening for postmenopausal osteoporosis. Geneva 1994. https://whqlibdoc.who.int/trs/WHO_TRS_843.pdf  (Accessed on March 09, 2012).
  3. Winzenberg TM, Shaw K, Fryer J, Jones G. Calcium supplementation for improving bone mineral density in children. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2006; :CD005119.
  4. Cosman F, de Beur SJ, LeBoff MS, et al. Clinician’s Guide to Prevention and Treatment of Osteoporosis. Osteoporos Int 2014; 25:2359.
  5. Gregg EW, Cauley JA, Seeley DG, et al. Physical activity and osteoporotic fracture risk in older women. Study of Osteoporotic Fractures Research Group. Ann Intern Med 1998; 129:81.
  6. Crandall CJ, Newberry SJ, Diamant A, et al. Comparative effectiveness of pharmacologic treatments to prevent fractures: an updated systematic review. Ann Intern Med 2014; 161:711.

If you’re struggling to afford your medications,
visit www.WellRx.com to compare the cash price at pharmacies near you.
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Medication for insomnia image

by Alyssa Kasher, PharmD Candidate 2018
University of Arizona College of Pharmacy

Sleep is a precious commodity that everyone needs to function. Individual sleep needs are different; some people need a few extra hours while others need less. Some people are light sleepers, while others “sleep like logs.” Sleep habits can also change temporarily, for example during college or after a baby is born. Despite varying needs, all people need adequate sleep to function. Sleep loss negatively affects work performance, mood and overall health. In light of this, it is important to identify factors that are causing you to lose sleep. It’s important to speak with your doctor to see if ongoing sleep problems are caused by clinical insomnia.

How do I know it’s clinical insomnia?

Clinical insomnia is diagnosed by having all of the following 3 conditions1:

  1.       Difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up too early
  2.       The above difficulty occurs even with plenty of time to sleep in an ideal environment
  3.       Sleep loss causes decreased function during the daytime

What causes insomnia?

Historically, insomnia has been viewed as a condition that occurs secondary to another disease or condition. Recent studies show us that insomnia does occur by itself without any identifiable reasons1. You should still check with your doctor to see if another medication you take or condition you have is causing insomnia.

Treatment of insomnia

First line treatment for insomnia includes behavioral counseling and improving sleep hygiene. For information on non-drug therapies, check out our previous blog post written by Jenny Bingham, PharmDShould you and your doctor decide to use medication to treat insomnia, it is important to tell your doctor about other medication you are taking as well as any conditions you have.

Over the Counter Medications

  • Antihistamines purchased over the counter are commonly used to induce sleep as they can cause drowsiness1. While they are helpful, these medications should only be used short term. If your problems with sleep continue, you should consult with your doctor to ensure you get the appropriate treatment.

Prescription Medications

  • Non-benzodiazepines include other sleep drugs with varying mechanisms. They differ from benzodiazepines in that they usually have less anti-anxiety effects. Some of these drugs are approved only for short term use; while drugs formulated as extended release are better suited for long term use1.
  • Antidepressants can be used for sleep as many of them have a sedating effect. These are particularly useful in people who concurrently suffer from depression or anxiety, because the drug is also treating a potential cause of insomnia. The only antidepressant specifically FDA approved for insomnia is Silenor (doxepin) 1.
  • Other drugs are used for insomnia that have unique mechanisms
    • Rozerem (ramelteon) is a drug that encourages your body to release melatonin, which makes you sleepy. It has less side effects and less addiction potential than other drug types. It is also not a controlled substance.
    • Belsomra (suvorexant) is a first of its kind drug that blocks molecules in your brain that encourage wakefulness1. Because it has a long half-life, it can still cause day time drowsiness. It is a controlled substance due to abuse potential.

General Considerations

  • Sleep medications can make you drowsy, dizzy or experience day time sedation.
  • Many medications used to treat insomnia have a potential to be habit forming. They may also worsen insomnia if stopped suddenly. Use them exactly as directed by your doctor.
  • Sleep medications can impair your ability to perform tasks, so it is crucial to only take them once you are ready for bed. Do not use alcohol as impairment may be worsened.

Considerations in the Elderly

  • Since most sleep medications cause drowsiness to induce sleep, they can be especially dangerous when used in the elderly. This is true of both over the counter sleep medications (like diphenhydramine) as well as prescription drugs. This drowsiness can cause confusion, memory issues and serious falls. Consult your pharmacist or doctor before starting sleep medication.

 

References:

  1. Arand DL, Bonnet MH. Treatment of insomnia in adults. In: Basow DS, ed., UpToDate. Waltham (MA): UpToDate; 2016

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.
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healthy-family-healthy-savings

For those who are new to the ScriptSave® WellRx prescription savings program, you may not realize just how long our company has been in the business of saving patients money on their prescriptions. It’s actually well over 20 years – we date back to 1993.

It’s certainly nothing new to us to encounter people ‘paying it forward’ and helping to spread the word. That said, after all that time, we’ve only recently opened our website to guest bloggers.

Tabitha Blue describes herself as a, “Mommy, designer, blogger, wifey, sunshine chaser and lover of babies, lipstick, good food and beautiful things, especially when found in unexpected places.” Tabitha hosts the “Fresh Mommy Blog” and has been named Tampa’s most influential mommy blogger and hosts her own online cooking show, KitchenWise. She has made appearances on Daytime TV and has been featured multiple times in print and online magazines, other blogs and websites … and, now/here, we’re also thrilled to be letting her take over our blog page for this post about…

“Healthy Savings and Healthy Families For the Winter Season”
by Tabitha Blue

As a mom of four, I’m always looking for ways to take care of my family, working to keep them healthy, both emotionally and physically.

With cold and flu season in full swing, there are a few ways I help prepare my family and home to prevent the spread of germs and build up our immunity as much as possible:

1. Hydration

Keeping everyone hydrated is key to a healthy home. The effects of dehydration can be vast and it’s amazing how much better our bodies are at fighting off an impending virus when we’ve been pushing water and other fluids.

2. Vitamins

In the winter months, we may need to offer our bodies a little extra help in the vitamin department. Citrus fruits aren’t as fresh or readily available and we don’t soak up quite as much Vitamin D from the sun. (Note: One large lemon contains 45mg of Vitamin C, which makes it a huge immune boosting fruit. Add to water to get those extra “C”s). Find ways to up that vitamin intake through outdoor activities, fresh fruits & veggies and even a vitamin supplement.

3. Rest

A body that is tired is simply more susceptible to illness. While this absolutely applies to both adults and children, did you know that children between the ages 3-11 years need 10-12 hours of sleep a day? It seems like such a large number in our busy world full of extra-curricular activities, homework and more. But getting the right amount of rest and building a solid bedtime routine in the winter months is imperative to good health.

4. Hand washing

The one set of items that is ALWAYS with us and always transferring germs from one surface to another is our hands. Between school, dance classes, music lessons, sports, the library and every other place our kids have wandered, hands stay busy. Eating with unwashed hands, rubbing the face, fingers in the mouth (happens SO much more often that you might think, especially with little ones), all means that germs spread to our bodies quickly. Hand washing is one of the number-one ways of preventing that transfer. To help make it happen often, make it fun! Foam soaps, fun shapes or colors of soap, silly songs or competitions are all great ways to encourage hand washing.

Even with all of the best prevention methods in play, there will be times that a bug knocks one (or a few) of us down. When that happens, I like to be prepared!

5. ScriptSave WellRx

What’s worse than having a sick kiddo (or two, or three)? Having to drag them around from pharmacy to pharmacy finding the best deal or which one has what we need in stock. Because, you guys, I’ve totally been there … and actually have gone home empty-handed after dragging little-ones to 2 or 3 places because the right prescriptions weren’t in stock or we were referred somewhere else to find an affordable price. It can be exhausting.

Part of taking care of my home is making sure that I’m not spending money that doesn’t need to be spent. Shopping for prescriptions is not like shopping for groceries (but it should be). Prescription prices are not immediately obvious and finding the best deal is important to me, and it took me a while before I realized that different pharmacies can charge vastly different prices for exactly the same medications. This is where the ScriptSave WellRx website and mobile app can really help. Even having insurance coverage does not necessarily mean low-cost prescription meds and there have been times I’ve found that paying cash for some prescriptions has saved me money as well.

The ScriptSave WellRx website and mobile app has a fast, easy, free price-check tool that does all the local price-checking (kind of like searching for a hotel or a flight deal), which means just a few swipes from the comfort of my own home and I know exactly where to go to save money.

Anyone can register for free (and without even the need to enter credit card details) and, in doing so, have free access to a host of helpful tools (even besides the money savings!) like “Take-your-pill” reminders, prescription-refill reminders, Ask a Pharmacist hotline, multi-med pricing and more.

It’s a simple app to download and figure out, and one of the new features I really liked while searching for an antibiotic for my sweet babe and a different one for her big brother where I live outside of Tampa, Florida, is “Medicine Chest Pricing”. With it, just enter the details of multiple prescriptions at the same time, and then click the “Price-check” button to see EITHER, the one single pharmacy that offers the lowest ‘one-stop price’ OR the specific combination of pharmacies that will provide the lowest individual price for each single prescription.

Simple to use, and simple ways to save while keeping us healthy. A win for this busy family indeed.


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 price at pharmacies near you.
You may find prices lower than your insurance co-pay!
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Five ways to live healthier

For those who are new to the ScriptSave® WellRx prescription savings program, you may not realize just how long our company has been in the business of saving patients money on their prescriptions. It’s actually well over 20 years – we date back to 1993.

It’s certainly nothing new to us to encounter people ‘paying it forward’ and helping spread the word about our prescription savings program. That said, after all that time, we’ve only recently opened our website to guest bloggers.

If you happen to be from the Asheville, NC area, you might well know Julie Wunder from TV. However, after an 11 year stint as a meteorologist and morning news personality on WLOS (which included an Emmy award for her efforts), she now curates the highly successful lifestyle blog, “Running In A Skirt” (attracting more than 100,000 unique readers every month) and we’re thrilled to be letting her take over our blog page for this post about…

“Living A Healthy Lifestyle Without Breaking The Bank”
by Julie Wunder

The New Year is the perfect time to make goals and be healthier. It seems easy enough on the surface, but the cost of your new clean & active life can add up quickly. From all those tempting ads for expensive exotic foods to the attractive boutique fitness classes, that nourishing new lifestyle can certainly come with a price-tag attached. But with a few easy swaps and tricks you can still hit your goals and actually save money doing it.

1. Plan Your Meals

Healthy living really does start and end in the kitchen. If you workout five days a week and still eat garbage, you will not feel as good as you could if you were eating a rainbow of healthy fruits and vegetables daily.

To save money on your new healthy eats, plan your grocery trips ahead of time. Before you meal plan, check your stores weekly sales online and what is in season ahead of time. That can give you a great jumping off point for meal ideas that aren’t going to be crazy expensive. Also check healthy living blogs for creative dinner ideas. Meal plan, make a list and go into the store buying just what is on the list. Shop smart and reduce the urge to impulse buy.

2. Eat More Plant Based Meals

You don’t have to be a vegetarian to get the benefits of eating the occasional plant based meal! Plant based meals are not only often less expensive but they can also reduce your risk of chronic conditions like cardiovascular disease and obesity. Beans, oats and in-season vegetables are all very budget conscious items at the store that make great meals. Scan through this page for some great vegetarian recipes like this Nourishing Crock Pot Vegetarian Lentil Soup. It’s protein packed, inexpensive and delicious!

3. Consider workouts without using a gym

Gyms are great, but the price of membership can add up. There are so many great home workouts you can do for free with little to no equipment. A quick google search can help here, or check my “Running in a Skirt” blog site for the ones that I really like. Also consider taking up running. All you need is a good pair of shoes and a running outfit in technical fabric to start. You can save hundreds of dollars doing this! Of course, if you have any concerns related to health or physical limitations in this regard, you should always consult your licensed healthcare professional for guidance on what’s appropriate.

4. Drink Water

There are so many expensive beverages on the market right now, ranging from sodas to sports drinks to bottled fancy enhanced water.

Skip all of that and buy yourself a nice refillable water bottle and fill it up often. Water is almost always free and is the best thing you can be drinking for your body anyway.

5. Don’t Overpay for Prescriptions

For many of us, staying healthy means staying on top of our prescriptions. I have asthma and get a pill and two inhalers filled regularly. I wish I didn’t need them, but I do. I don’t breathe well without them so they are a key part of my healthy lifestyle. Over the years, these medicines have gone up and up in price and the cost can be overwhelming.

I always thought I had to just take the price I got at the pharmacy I went to all the time, but I recently learned that I can shop for my meds in the same way I shop for groceries. Prescription costs can actually vary so much from place to place, even with insurance—who knew! The new ScriptSave WellRx website & mobile app make it easier than ever to personalize my shopping experience to make sure I’m getting the best deal on my prescriptions.

The ScriptSave WellRx app is a free download, requires no credit card details and has no membership fee. Trying it out costs you nothing and it could save you a boat load of cash!

All you do is put in your zip code and enter any medicines you are taking.

The ScriptSave WellRx app will then do the price-shopping for you. It shows you the price of meds at all the pharmacies near you. It shows the cost without having insurance and it may surprise you that sometimes it is less than your co-pay.

I did a simple search for one of my meds and saw just how different the price can be from pharmacy to pharmacy. It ranged from $12-$35 a month … which could really add up since I take it every day. The app has saved some of us 80% and, on average, there is a 45% savings. Not bad for something they provide to patients for FREE and with no strings! There is even a feature that will let me put all three of my prescriptions into the app and find the one pharmacy that has the overall lowest price – they call it “Medicine Chest Pricing” (although you need to create a free account to access that feature, in order for them to be able to keep your data secure).

I’ll be checking back the Script WellRx app before each refill because prescription prices can change daily.

Hopefully these simple tips can help you reach your health goals and help you save a little cash at the same time!


Download the free ScriptSave 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 price at pharmacies near you.
You may find prices lower than your insurance co-pay!

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prescription savings app in hand - low-price map

Twitter-like App for Healthcare Professionals: Interview

by Tim Sandle, Dec 2, 2017

ScriptSave WellRx is disrupting the pharmaceutical industry by promoting price transparency with a free mobile app. Consumers rarely know what the “real” price is for their prescriptions. This now set to change and Dr. Marcus Sredzinski tells us how.

The new ScriptSave WellRx is allowing consumers in the U.S. to see the real price behind every prescription, regardless of where they live. ScriptSave WellRx is designed to provide instant savings at the pharmacy register for both brand-name and generic prescriptions.

The app is the idea of Dr. Marcus Sredzinski, who is the Chief Operating Officer at ScriptSave WellRx. Dr. Sredzinski has more than 24 years of experience in healthcare, working with the the largest insurers, health plans, pharmacies and pharmaceutical organizations across the U.S.

To discover how the app works and the benefits it can potentialy deliver, Digital Journal spoke with Dr. Sredzinski.

Digital Journal: Thanks for the interview. What are the current concerns with drug pricing?

Dr. Sredzinski: There’s simply too much confusion here, and that’s a big part of the problem. For example, in the pharmacy industry, talking about drug pricing requires more specificity; are we talking about the wholesale price, the retail price, the brand price, the generic price, the cash price, the discount price, etc.?

Of course, the patient is likely just concerned about getting the “best” price, but s/he has no solid benchmark to serve as a guide, and few people understand the intricacies. Therefore, we’re ultimately all left reading the kind of stats that grabbed headlines for Consumer Reports recently, suggesting that as many as 14 percent of Americans aren’t taking their medication because they can’t afford it.

DJ: How important is it to have greater price transparency for pharmaceuticals?

Dr. Sredzinski: The increasing presence of high-deductible and catastrophic health plans continues to put more emphasis on the need for patients to become knowledgeable consumers of healthcare. As such, it becomes essential for the industry to show up with universal price-transparency tools. That is one of the biggest visions of ScriptSave WellRx – to bring greater price transparency for all prescription drugs.

Traditional health plans utilize copays as a tool for members to pay for prescription drugs. Because of this, many patients have been blind to the actual cost of their meds. That’s simply not today’s reality and, now that the blinders are off, many patients are shocked at what they’re faced with.

DJ: How will the ScriptSave WellRx app work?

Dr. Sredzinski: It’s so much more than just a pricing and discount tool. Sure, that’s where it started – allowing patients to understand what it would cost to pay cash for their prescription and to get a discount relative to that cash price. However, we want people to realize that this as an adherence and persistence tool as well.

Not only does the app provide prescription price transparency, it also allows patients to set alerts for when they’re due to take their next pill, as well as when it’s time to order their next refill from the pharmacy. We’ve also built in functionality to help keep track of side-effects that the patient might want to share with their doctor. It really has come a long way from the early days of just providing discounts to those without insurance.

DJ: Where do you collect the data for the app from?

Dr. Sredzinski: We have some extremely long-standing and trusted relationships with pharmacies, many of whom we view as true partners in our endeavors. The data that we are privy to come from these pharmacy partners.

DJ: How often is the data updated?

Dr. Sredzinski: We have a team of pricing analysts who work on these data every single day. In fact, that’s all they do – day-in, day-out. Prescription pricing really can be that changeable and complex, which is why we encourage our members and patients all over to be regularly checking in with the ScriptSave WellRx app or website ahead of every refill – the data are updated every single day.

DJ: What has the response been from the pharmacy profession?

Dr. Sredzinski: We’ve spent the past 20 plus years working extremely closely with retail pharmacy networks and we’ve always been about more than just providing a discount. The focus is on the continuum of care and, as such, the responses we’ve attracted have generally reflected a visionary status among our partners over time.

From the pioneering efforts of some pharmacies who had us help with the building and running of their in-store pharmacy loyalty programs, to a new pharmacy MTM partnership with Sinfonia Healthcare Group, it’s always been a humbling experience to roll out new innovations in such collaborative ways.

DJ: How have consumers reacted?

Dr. Sredzinski: Every time I look at our Facebook page I’m blown away by the positive sentiment that folks seem to want to share with their family, friends, neighbors, etc. The world has truly become a digitally social place, and health-and-wellness related products like ours are no exception to the “Like” button. When we unveiled the new Medicine Chest feature, that one certainly got consumers’ attention, as did the free “Ask A Pharmacist” MTM program with Sinfonia.

DJ: What has the up-take been like?

Dr. Sredzinski: Way beyond expectations, and it’s not solely from the consumer and patient sector. We’ve been inundated by inquiries that run the gamut from health-and-tech entrepreneurs with ideas on possible evolutions, to insurance and pharmacy pioneers wanting to discuss potential opportunities to work more closely together.

Meanwhile, we have prescribing physicians telling us that we’re literally helping them to save patient lives by allowing them to hand out our savings card free with every prescription they write.

DJ: Where can the app be obtained from?

Dr. Sredzinski: It’s currently available for iPhone and Android, and there are links on the WellRx website to our listings in each of those app stores.

DJ: What other types of healthcare related technology interest you?

Dr. Sredzinski: Personalization and machine-learning are going to be part-and-parcel of how healthcare will be paid for in the future. Hyper-personalization is the key, and we’re taking this seriously. I recently co-authored a white paper on this topic with Gary Hawkins, the Founder & CEO of the Center for Advancing Retail and Technology (CART). The paper focuses on the massive disconnect between the healthcare, retail and grocery industries, as well as the roll big-data have to play in this regard.

Imagine allowing a patient with diabetes or high cholesterol to seamlessly share this information with local grocery stores and Consumer Product Goods (CPG) manufacturers. The next time this patient restocks the pantry, their personalized offers could easily reflect foods that have been certified by the American Diabetes Association or the American Heart Association.

DJ: What other projects are you working on?

Dr. Sredzinski: We have a couple of big ones in focus at the moment. The first is to take a new look at an older concept we helped pioneer way back in our early days as a young company. The market for pharmaceutical copay cards is ripe for evolution and that’s right in our wheelhouse, so we’ll be working with interested pharma manufacturers to help change the dynamic in this space. In tandem with that, as anyone who attended the National Association of Chain Drug Stores’ annual expo in August will know, our innovation in the personalized wellness space won industry recognition as we’re building a product to help connect retail pharmacy, retail grocery and consumer healthcare.

The project sees us working closely with some of the most innovative retail pharmacies and front-of-store retailers in the industry, and we’re bringing healthy offerings from the CPG space then syncing them to personal wellness profiles that patients can maintain within the ScriptSave WellRx platform.


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 price at pharmacies near you.
You may find prices lower than your insurance co-pay!

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Pharmacogenomics pharmacogenetics image

by Leah Samera, PharmD Candidate, Class of 2018

As with most things, when it comes selecting a drug regimen for the treatment of chronic disease, one size does not fit all. If you take medications, you may have wondered why that is the case. One reason is because of pharmacogenomics.

Pharmacogenomics refers to “the entire spectrum of genes that interact to determine drug efficacy and safety.” In practice, many people may use the terms pharmacogenomics and pharmacogenetics interchangeably.

Pharmacogenetics, however, also refers to variants of one gene that affect drug response. The study of both pharmacogenomics and pharmacogenetics can help to optimize drug therapy and minimize drug toxicity based on an individual’s genetic profile.

What is a gene?

A gene is a series of codons that specify a particular protein. Genetic variation may result in altered protein sequence and function or in altered protein levels. This is significant, because these proteins can have an effect on how your body interacts with medications.

How do pharmacogenomic variations affect drug response?

The impact of pharmacogenomic variations on drug response have traditionally been divided into four categories:

  1. Those that affect drug pharmacokinetics. Pharmacokinetics refers to how a medication moves through a person’s body, i.e., how the drug is absorbed, distributed, metabolized, and eliminated.  An example of a genetic variation that affects pharmacokinetics is one in which drug metabolism is altered, subsequently affecting plasma concentration.
  2. Those that effect on pharmacodynamics. Pharmacodynamics refers to a person’s therapeutic response to a medication; this depends on a medication’s affinity and activity at its site of action. An example of a genetic variation that affects pharmacodynamics is one in which binding of a drug to its receptor is reduced, thereby decreasing therapeutic efficacy.
  3. Those that affect idiosyncratic reactions. An idiosyncratic reaction is an adverse reaction to a medication that is both rare and unpredictable. An example of a genetic variation that affects idiosyncratic reactions is one in which the likelihood of a hypersensitivity reaction to a certain drug is increased.
  4. Those that affect disease pathogenesis or severity and response to specific therapies. Pathogenesis refers to the origination and development of a disease. An example of a genetic variation that affects pathogenesis is a specific molecular defect related to the development of certain malignancies for which there are targeted therapies.

How can the study of pharmacogenomics help to optimize your drug therapy and minimize side effects?

Organizations like 23andMe allow people to “access, understand, and benefit” from the study of pharmacogenomics. With their simple home-based saliva collection kits, all you have to do is order their Health + Ancestry service; register, and spit into, the provided tube; and mail the kit back to their lab via the pre-paid package. Next, their lab extracts, processes, and analyzes the DNA from the cells in your saliva. Within 6 to 8 weeks, you get an email notifying you that you can view your results in your online account and discover what your DNA says about you. By sharing those results with your healthcare providers, they then can use that information to ensure that you get the most benefit from your medications while minimizing the risk of side effects.

References:

  1. Cavallari LH, Lam Y. Pharmacogenetics. In: DiPiro JT, Talbert RL, Yee GC, Matzke GR, Wells BG, Posey L. eds. Pharmacotherapy: A Pathophysiologic Approach, 10e New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; . https://accesspharmacy.mhmedical.com.ezproxy4.library.arizona.edu/content.aspx?bookid=1861&sectionid=146077703. Accessed September 12, 2017.
  2. Roden DM. Pharmacogenetics. In: Brunton LL, Knollmann BC, Hilal-Dandan R. eds. Goodman & Gilman’s: The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics, 13e New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; . https://accesspharmacy.mhmedical.com.ezproxy4.library.arizona.edu/content.aspx?bookid=2189&sectionid=167889559. Accessed September 12, 2017.
  3. Tantisira K, Weiss ST. Overview of pharmacogenomics. Post TW, ed. UpToDate. Waltham, MA: UpToDate Inc. https://www.uptodate.com. Accessed September 13, 2017.
  4. Our Mission. 23andMe.com. https://mediacenter.23andme.com. Accessed September 13, 2017.
  5. How it works. 23andMe.com. https://www.23andme.com/howitworks. Accessed September 13, 2017.
  6. Our science. 23andMe.com. https://www.23andme.com/genetic-science. Accessed September 13, 2017.

ScriptSave WellRx Prescription Savings & Wellness News

Do you need to save money on your IBS, Chronic Pain, Cholesterol or other medications?

Visit www.WellRx.com to compare prices at pharmacies near you.

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Beating high prescription costs - WJLA

by Lisa Fletcher, ABC7 News

Washington, DC (WJLA) – Millions of Americans with health insurance still pay out-of-pocket for medications. And the cost can reach hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year.

But what many drugmakers and pharmacies don’t want you to know is that you could lower your medication costs, sometimes by as much as ten-times, by simply walking across the street to a competing pharmacy.

On a recent fall morning, ABC7 News caught up with Poet Taylor, the host of a popular Washington, DC radio show. As she regaled her listeners with stories and witty banter, you wouldn’t have guessed she suffers from asthma. Her job and her well-being depend on her ability to control it.

“Asthma is a very serious, serious diagnosis,” said Taylor. “The wrong medication could result in me having an asthma attack and not being properly medicated.”

But Taylor, like millions of Americans, is in the center of a tug-of-war between insurance providers and drugmakers.

Big insurance companies threaten to take popular medications off their coverage list unless drugmakers reduce the price. It’s a multimillion dollar game of chicken and the drug companies don’t always flinch.

Taylor recalled a recent, surprising trip to her pharmacy. “I put in my normal refill. I’m feeling good. And I get a call from my pharmacy and the pharmacy is like, ‘nope, your insurance doesn’t cover that.’ Yes they do, I’ve been on it almost a year now. I know they do. They were like, ‘not anymore.’”

Taylor was forced to switch to another brand of inhaler that she and her doctor agree, doesn’t work as well for her asthma. Taylor says she feels like a pawn in the game of trying to force pharmaceutical companies to lower their costs.

“A company that would wager my life on, I don’t know what kind of extra money you get at the end of the year, it just reads loud and clear: We don’t really care about you. We care about the money that we make off of you,” said Taylor.

ABC7 News checked. If Taylor wanted the medication that works best for her she’d be out of pocket as much as $433.99 a month. We asked if that’s something she could afford.

“No,” said Taylor. “That would be the cost of my car insurance, my car payment and my phone bill.”

But what Taylor and millions of others like her didn’t know is that you can comparison shop for drugs just like you would a car, a bed, or the paper towels in your kitchen.

“The crazy thing we see every day is that same drug, same exact prescription, different pharmacy, much better price,” says Shawn Ohri. Ohri works for ScriptSave, a pharmacy benefits manager, or PBM.

There are about 30 PBM’s in the U.S. and they negotiate prices on prescriptions for their members.

Ohri says insured or not, everyone should comparison shop.

“Twenty-eight million people that we know are uninsured today, You’ve got 20 million people that are on high-deductible health plans in 2016 and that number’s growing year-over-year, and then you’ve got 10 to 20 percent of the people that have great coverage, but that particular drug that they’re using isn’t covered,” says Ohri.

One way to shop around is to call every pharmacy in your area. Another is to use an app.

Ohri’s company came up with an app called “WellRx.” There are a handful of others and each is likely to find different deals for you, depending on how they negotiate with the pharmaceutical companies.

Using the WellRx app, ABC7 News compiled the most popular prescriptions in DC, Maryland and Virginia and compared prices among the top 10 pharmacy retailers.

The antibiotic amoxicillin is the No. 1 most purchased drug in Maryland. It’s three and a half times more expensive at CVS than Walmart.

The high blood pressure medicine amlodipine besylate is one of the most popular prescriptions in Virginia. It’s nearly six-times more expensive at WalMart than it is at Kmart.

And in DC, the second most prescribed drug, sildenafil, used for high blood pressure in the lungs, or as a generic form of Viagra, is more than eleven-times more expensive at Walgreens than Costco…at $195.00 versus $17.60.

“It pays to shop around, even with these types of programs,” says Ohri.

And that’s something Taylor won’t soon forget as she tries to outmaneuver the insurance and drug companies.

“I’m a person who wants to live a healthy, happy life,” said Taylor. “I don’t know why you would want to stand in the way of that. And I would hope an extra thousand dollars, or extra million should not matter more than me living, me breathing, me being here.”

Remember that depending on what app you’re using, the prices can vary – sometimes by a lot.

See the original story on the WJLA website.


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 price at pharmacies near you.
You may find prices lower than your insurance co-pay!

 

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