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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Transgender Pride Flag

Transgender Awareness Week falls between November 13-19 every year and is meant to help raise visibility of a vulnerable and underserved community.  ‘Transgender’ is an umbrella term for people whose gender identity is different from the sex assigned at birth; ‘gender identity’ is one’s innermost concept of self as male, female, a blend of both, or neither.

Transgender/gender non-conforming people experience gender dysphoria, a clinically significant distress recognized by the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) caused by a person’s assigned birth gender differing from the one with which they identify. This leads to increased depression among the transgender community, which can be exacerbated by being rejected by family and friends, abuse/violence, or experiencing discrimination. Gender-affirming operations have shown to yield long-term mental health benefits for transgender people.

Transgender and gender-nonconforming people can face significant problems with accessing health care. Finding a healthcare provider who is

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The NeedyMeds Drug Discount Card is adding a new benefit for patients! The NeedyMeds Drug Discount Card can now be used to save 40% on durable medical equipment and diabetic supplies. Our new partnership with My Virtual Doctor allows patients to buy hundreds of items online at a discount when you enter a NeedyMeds Drug Discount Card ID at checkout. You can now use your NeedyMeds Drug Discount Card to save on:

  • Diabetic supplies — needles, syringes, meters, test strips, lancets and more;
  • Splints and braces for ankle, knee, wrist, back;
  • Catheters and incontinence supplies;
  • Bathroom safety supplies — commodes, grab bars, bath benches and more;
  • Compression stockings;
  • Mobility devices such as canes, crutches, walkers, wheelchairs;
  • Footwear — inserts, socks, slippers;
  • Bladder control pads;
  • and more!

For over 10 years, the NeedyMeds Drug Discount Card has been helping patients afford their prescriptions. To date, we have saved patients over $280 million on the price of their medications. The free NeedyMeds Drug Discount Card can be used anywhere in the country at over 65,000 participating pharmacies including all of the major chains, to save up to 80% on the cash price of your prescriptions. There are no income or age restrictions. There is no activation or registration needed and no personal information is taken when using our card.

The only rule is that you can’t combine insurance with the NeedyMeds Drug Discount Card. So if you’re

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