October has been observed as Talk About Your Medicines Month (TAYMM) for 35 years. Started by the BeMedWise Program at NeedyMeds (formerly known as the National Council on Patient Information [NCPIE]), the awareness month is an annual opportunity to spotlight safe medicine use with the goal of improved health outcomes. This year’s theme is Medication Adherence – On Track With Your Meds and Your Health. Medication adherence is a vital part of maintaining your health. Our goal is to empower patients to maximize the benefits while minimizing the risks of the medications they are taking, and provide the tools they need to talk about their medicines.

Medication adherence has been called America’s “other drug problem.” Nonadherence can lead to illness progression, severe complications, and preventable deaths. Nonadherence includes anything from delaying or not filling a prescription, skipping doses, splitting pills, to stopping a medication early. Not taking medication as directed can lead to poor health outcomes which then increases healthcare service utilization and overall healthcare costs.

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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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Acetaminophen is the most common drug ingredient in the United States and is found in more than 600 different prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines, including pain relievers, fever reducers, and sleep aids as well as cough, cold, and allergy medicines. Over 50 million Americans use a medicine that contains acetaminophen each week. It is safe and effective when used as directed, but taking more than directed is an overdose and can lead to liver damage. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends taking no more than 4,000 milligrams (mg) of acetaminophen in a 24-hour period.

Here are four important steps to follow when taking any over-the-counter or prescription medicines:

  1. Always read and follow the labels on your medicines. Never take more medicine than the label says.
  2. Know if your medicine contains acetaminophen. It is important to check the active ingredients listed on the labels of all your medicines to see if they contain acetaminophen.
    1. On over-the-counter medicine labels, the word “acetaminophen” is written on the front of the package or bottle, and is highlighted or in bold type in the active ingredient section of the Drug Facts label.
    2. On prescription medicine labels, acetaminophen is sometimes listed as “APAP,” “acetam,” or other shortened versions of the word.
    3. In other countries, acetaminophen may be called paracetamol. There is no therapeutic or chemical difference between acetaminophen and paracetamol.
    Never take more than one medicine that contains acetaminophen at the same time. Always ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist if you have any questions about your medicines.

    If you drink three or more alcoholic drinks a day or if you have liver disease, talk to your healthcare provider before taking acetaminophen as you may be at greater risk for liver damage. It is also important to talk to your healthcare provider before taking medicines containing acetaminophen if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or if you take blood thinners.

    It is advised that you stop taking acetaminophen

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Photo by Marc Nozell

We are in the beginnings of an election year in the United States and the first primary votes to determine the Democratic nominee will be cast in the coming weeks. Healthcare costs remain a top concern for voters, and candidates have developed varying proposals to improve healthcare, reform the current system, and reduce healthcare costs in the U.S.

Independent Senator from Vermont and 2016 Democratic Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders has long championed the ideal of single payer healthcare, often referred to as Medicare for All in the U.S. In a single payer system, the federal government fully covers every service and procedure, including dental, vision, long-term care and abortion, with no out-of-pocket charge to patients. Bernie Sanders has often claimed Medicare for All is the only way to address deeper problems in the United States healthcare system, from medical bankruptcies to high maternal mortality rates, especially among poor and minority women. Senator Sanders has proposed allowing importing medication from abroad at

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