Anyone looking to save on medication costs, and that is probably you if you are reading this article, has seen the same methods listed in article after article. They include shopping around for the best price, switching to generics, splitting pills, applying to assistance programs, using a drug discount card or copay cards, etc. 

I’ll explain some different ways to save you may not have seen before. They may be a little more complex than the methods listed above – and may require some conversations with your prescriber or pharmacist. In addition to the cost savings these methods will provide, they will also give you better understanding of your treatments and the medicines you take.

1. Treating the Symptom or Treating the Cause

When you are sick and feeling miserable, you want one thing – to feel better. Your healthcare provider may give you a medicine that lessens your symptoms – called symptomatic treatment. Examples include an antihistamine or a decongestant which may help with the runny or congested nose of a cold, an anti-diarrheal medicine may help with the runs associated with a stomach bug or an anti-itch medicine

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by Richard Sagall, MD

It’s a choice no one should have to make – pay rent and buy food or get prescriptions filled. Yet all too often it’s a choice Americans, particularly working-age Americans, have to make.

Nearly 28 million Americans have no health insurance, and millions more have limited coverage. Many Americans just can’t afford healthcare, and, if they can, they don’t have the money to buy their medicines.

Prescription Assistance Programs

There is help available for many people who can’t afford their medicines. These programs, frequently called prescription assistance programs (PAPs) or patient assistance programs, are designed to help those in need obtain their medicines at no cost or very low cost.

Many, but not all, pharmaceutical companies have PAPs. The manufacturers who have programs do so for various reasons. Some believe that they have a social obligation to help those who can’t afford their products. Others believe it’s a good marketing tool. As one PAP director once told me, many people who can’t afford their medicines now will go on to obtain some type of coverage. And when they do get this

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As children grow up, they learn an important lesson: when you are sick, taking medicine usually helps you feel better in a reasonably short time. That acquired knowledge has helped generations of kids suck down foul-tasting cough medicine and other remedies.

In fact, “taking your medicine” has become cultural shorthand for doing something that may be unpleasant in the short run, but benefits one over the long term. This is certainly aided by the fact the United States has one of the safest drug supplies in the world; when you take a medication in America, you can count on it not only helping you feel better, but being safe for consumption.

Except when you can’t.

Illegal, unregulated pharmacies have become more prominent in recent years. Advertising and selling largely over the Internet, these criminal enterprises developed a niche selling medication to patients at cheap prices found nowhere else. But these savings come with a price: the drugs are often counterfeit, and are sometimes laced with dangerous substances. Antifreeze, road paint and rat poison have all been found in these discount fake medicines, and the National Association

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A recent Boston Globe article described a large settlement a family won against Johnson & Johnson, the maker of Children’s Motrin. There’s an old adage, “All I know is what I read in the newspaper” and that is the case here. While it may sound like a windfall for the family, there was more to the story than just suing for—and winning—millions of dollars, and there is no happy ending nor winner.

According to the article, when a little girl was seven years old her parents gave her Children’s Motrin for a fever. She apparently received three doses over 24 hours, but the article did not go into further detail. All we know is that shortly after taking the Motrin she started to experience symptoms the paper called a “severe reaction” that doctors diagnosed as toxic epidermal necrolysis (TENS).

Toxic epidermal necrolysis is a rare, potentially deadly skin condition. Usually the cause is drug-related reaction, but there are other causes and often the cause isn’t found.

The girl suffered a lot from her TENS—she lost most of her skin, developed permanent lung and liver damage and blindness. She had multiple complications,

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