Blood Cancer Awareness Month

September is National Blood Cancer Awareness Month, also known as Leukemia and Lymphoma Awareness Month.  Leukemia is a type of blood cancer that is fairly common, with an estimated 52,380 new cases in 2014. From the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society website: “Leukemia is a type of cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow, the spongy center of bones where our blood cells are formed. The disease develops when blood cells produced in the bone marrow grow out of control.” There are multiple types of Leukemia, some more common than others.

 

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Lymphoma is similar to Leukemia in that it is a common type of blood cancer. More from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society: “Lymphoma is the name for a group of blood cancers that develop in the lymphatic system. The two main types are Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). In 2014, about 761,659 people are living with lymphoma or are in remission (no sign of the disease). This number includes about 177,526 people with Hodgkin lymphoma and 584,133 people with NHL.” Hodgkin lymphoma is defined by the presence of Reed-Sternberg cells, named after the scientists who discovered them; these are larger cancerous cells. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, on the other hand, “represents a diverse group of diseases distinguished by the characteristics of the cancer cells associated with each disease type.”

 

What Help is Available for Leukemia?

The first place to check for assistance is the NeedyMeds Leukemia Information Page. On this page we list what patient assistance programs are available for common Leukemia medications. These programs offer the medication at little-to-no cost to qualifying patients. Simply click the name of the medication to get information on the program – you will have to contact the program directly to apply.  There are also resources that provide a wealth of information on the disease, current treatments, and research. Additionally, we recommend checking the Diagnosis-Based Assistance listings for Leukemia.

 

What Help is available for Lymphoma?

Again, the best place to start would be the Lymphoma Information page on the NeedyMeds site. This page is a collaborative effort with the Lymphoma Research Foundation, and like the Leukemia resource page it contains information on all available programs for Lymphoma drugs. On the right side of the page are a variety of links with information provided by the Lymphoma Research Foundation. In addition to the resource page we also have numerous programs for Lymphoma on our Lymphoma Diagnosis-Based Assistance listings.

 

For both Lymphoma and Leukemia we also recommend checking the Diagnosis-Based Assistance listings for Blood DisordersChronic, Serious or Life Threatening Illnesses, and Cancer. Between these three pages are over 150 national and state-specific programs offering a wide variety of assistance and services ranging from transportation and lodging to wigs, medical supplies, food, equipment, and more.  We also have a listing for one camp for children with Leukemia and two scholarships for students who have Leukemia or Lymphoma. Check our site or call our toll-free helpline (800-503-6897) for more information.

Prescriptions or groceries?

Some Americans are making sacrifices and taking risks to afford their meds

 

Rising drug prices have become a public health crisis, forcing too many Americans into making some tough choices. In a recent Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs’ poll of 1,037 U.S. adults who currently take a prescription medication, one third said they were hit with higher drug prices at the pharmacy counter in the past year. And while the average increase was $39 extra out-of-pocket, one in 10 reported paying $100 or more over what they’d previously paid. Those higher prices led nearly 40 percent of people to take potentially harmful risks with their medication in order to curb costs, including skipping filling a prescription, skipping a dosage, cutting pills in half without a doctor or pharmacist’s OK, and even taking expired meds.

 

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While people facing unexpected high costs were more than twice as likely to avoid seeing their doctor or forego a medical procedure than those who didn’t, the financial setbacks affected more than their health. Perhaps the most troubling cutback: A third (32 percent) of poll respondents paying higher prices said they spent less on groceries. And in the last six months alone, 42 percent of people facing higher drug costs also experienced other financial setbacks, including missing payments on major bills and not being able to afford medical bills, medications or gasoline for their car.  Forty percent of poll respondents reported spending less on entertainment and dining out in the past year, and a quarter (24 percent) spent less on family. Others put off paying bills, applied for government assistance, and even postponed retirement to maintain health insurance coverage.

 

Chart 1

 

Eight out of ten consumers went ahead and paid higher prices for their medications, although, chances are, they could have found ways to pay less. While there’s no clear end in sight for rapidly rising drug prices, there are ways for consumers to get a better deal. One recommendation: If you’re paying more for your meds, ask your doctor or pharmacist if it makes sense for you to switch to a drug that’s cheaper and just as effective and safe. In some cases, that may mean simply switching from a brand-name drug to a less-expensive generic equivalent. One-quarter of poll respondents said they called their insurance company to see if it would cover a greater percentage of their medication’s costs, or asked their doctor or pharmacist to switch their prescription to a lower-cost drug. Shopping around at other pharmacies for a lower price is a worth a try, too—17 percent of people said they did that. Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs’ secret shoppers have found that drug prices can be wildly different from one pharmacy to the next. And don’t forget to check with independent pharmacies—they may be willing to match or beat competitor prices (but you have to ask).

 

For more cost-lowering strategies and the best deals on prescription drugs, check out Consumer Reports’ free guide, Best Drugs for Less (in English and Spanish), and sign up for our webinar on Thursday August 27 at 2pm EST, Best Drugs for Less: 10 Ways to Save on the Medicine You Need. Register here.

 

- Ginger Skinner

Ginger Skinner is a writer for Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs, a public education project dedicated to helping you talk to your doctor about prescription drugs, and helping you find the most effective and safest drugs for the best price. To stay up to date on Best Buy Drugs news and advice, connect with them on Facebook and Twitter, and sign up for the free monthly e-alerts.

National Immunization Month

The last week of April was World Immunization Week, but August is National Immunization Awareness Month for the US. This is the time of year when children and teenagers are heading back to school, infants are entering preschools or day care programs, and many adults are heading into college or continuing their careers in the work force. Regardless of the situation, the need for getting vaccinated is important to be aware of year round.

 

According to Marvin M. Lipman, MD, Consumer Reports’ chief medical advisor, “Each year, at least 30,000 people die from complications related to vaccine-preventable diseases.” The onset of immunity and its duration varies from vaccine to vaccine. There are vaccines that are good for ten years, five years, and even vaccines that need to be renewed yearly. Dr. Lipman states, “Getting the right shots doesn’t guarantee that you won’t get sick, but it will significantly improve your odds.”

Even if a person is vaccinated as a child the ability to fend off vaccine-preventable diseases may begin to lessen. Vaccines boosters are used to build immunity against illnesses and others protect against common adulthood illness. Often people wonder what is the need for an already healthy person to be vaccinated; vaccination in adulthood is beneficial because as people grow older they are not as effectively able to form antibodies to fend off illness as well as younger people are.

 

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Vaccinations help keep diseases such as polio and measles in check. Fifteen years ago, measles was declared eradicated in the United States by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Since that time there have more than 120 cases of measles, including an outbreak earlier this year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that with vaccines they will save 732,000 lives and prevent 21 million hospital visits for anyone born in the last 20 years. With all of this in mind, it is clear that immunization awareness is an important matter for Americans of all ages.

 

As mentioned in our previous articles, many Americans avoid medical care due to financial costs. NeedyMeds lists over 2500 clinics that offer immunizations, which can be found by searching your zip code in the  Free/Low-Cost/Sliding Scale Clinics area of our site. Often vaccinations as well as flu shots are offered at most local pharmacies in early August and throughout the flu season.

 

References

  • Clemmons, N. S., Gastanaduy, P. A., Fiebelkorn, A. P., Redd, S. B., & Wallace, G. S. (2015). Measles – United States, january 4-april 2, 2015. MMWR: Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report, 64(14), 373-376.
  • The Power of Understanding. (2015). Popular Science, 286(4), 4.

All About Camps and Retreats

You may be thinking since it’s already mid-summer it’s too late to search for a camp. Not true! Many of the Camps and Retreats we have listed run at various times throughout the year or are even year-round. More importantly, the Camps and Retreats we list are solely dedicated to serve adults and children with specific medical conditions or diagnoses as well as non-medical challenges such as social, emotional, psychological or educational issues.  It can be very upsetting when an individual cannot participate along with their peers due to a medical condition. Luckily, NeedyMeds has stepped in to make sure that is not the case by offering a helpful list of camps and retreats specifically designed for people with certain diagnoses.

Screen Shot 2014-02-26 at 11.45.20 AMWho Do They Serve?

Every camp listed on the NeedyMeds site is different – serving different people based on their medical condition. In general the camps are designed for children and young adults with a specific diagnosis. There are also many camps available for children whose parents have a specific diagnosis, and a number of camps that are designed not just for children but for siblings or the entire family to enjoy. Most camps are funded by private or government run organizations.

 

 What Are the Eligibility Requirements?Screen Shot 2014-02-26 at 11.46.17 AM

Each camp has a different set of eligibility requirements. Most require a diagnosis for the child or a member of their family. Some of the camps are limited to certain states, while others are available to anyone who is a legal resident of the United States. There are also financial requirements for many of the camps, based on the Federal Poverty Level. It is best to contact each camp to find out what requirements they may have.

 

 How to Find a Camp

Finding a camp or retreat on NeedyMeds.org is easy. There are four ways to find a camp for your child/family. First is our listing of camps by diagnosis, where we list the diagnoses alphabetically. You can also search by Camp NameCamp Sponsor, or Camp Location. After finding a camp on the list just click the name to get the full contact information.  We currently list 1493 different Camps.

Planned Parenthood’s Family Planning Services

Planned Parenthood has been a controversial organization to many Americans since its beginnings in 1916. Just this week a bill was debated in the Senate to defund Planned Parenthood, which failed 53-46 (required 60 votes to pass).  With political rhetoric and misinformation heard from many speaking on the subject, the kinds of services provided by Planned Parenthood may be unknown or misunderstood by those who could potentially benefit from them.

Planned Parenthood began their work when information about family planning and contraception were considered “obscene.”  The founders of the first birth control clinic were arrested and convicted for disseminating contraception information. In the 1960s family planning became a central element of the War on Poverty. Today family planning services include everything from couples counseling to reproductive health screenings, pregnancy tests and prenatal services to contraception or pregnancy termination. Some Planned Parenthood clinic locations are able to provide a full range of family practice services. Planned Parenthood’s mission has always been to provide services for those in need regardless of income, national origin, or any other criteria.

A common misconception portrayed by some in the media is that Planned Parenthood is an “abortion factory.” Planned Parenthood’s 2013-2014 Annual Report has many success stories from recent years, including reducing teen-pregnancy to a 20-year low through education and access to information; participating in over 70 research projects looking into women’s health; provided 865,721 pap tests and breast exams for women at risk of cancer, which detected 87,988 women’s cancer or identified their abnormalities; and provided 4,470,597 tests for sexually-transmitted infections—including HIV—to both men and women, diagnosing 169,008 people and allowing them to get treatment and prevent further spread of STIs. Contrary to the claim that Planned Parenthood is an “industry of abortion,” the report states only 3% of the services provided in 2013 were abortion procedures. 

PP Affiliate Medical Services Data

NeedyMeds has information on over 500 Planned Parenthood clinics. Search your zip code for locations in your area. There are over 2000 other clinics nationwide that offer family planning services as well; just look for it under Details of your search results.

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