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.

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

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Plus: How to lower your drug costs

Americans take a lot of medicines – and many resort to risky behaviors to afford them. That’s according to a recent national telephone poll by public-education project Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs.  Forty-four percent of Americans take an average of 4.5 prescription drugs; 16 percent say they take 7 or more.

To afford those medications, more than half (57 percent) of those polled reported taking steps in the last year—some of them potentially dangerous—to curb high drug costs. That included not filling a prescription (17 percent), skipping a scheduled dose (14 percent), and taking an expired medication (14 percent).

The cost of medications affect people’s wallets in other ways, too. Three in 10 (29 percent) reported cutting back on entertainment and dining out; 19 percent spent less on groceries, and 15 percent put off paying other bills in order to afford their prescription drugs. And, people without drug coverage from their insurance were hit the hardest.

What to do if you face high costs

Don’t wait for your doctor to bring up the cost of medications—he or she may not. Instead,  ask

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Most of us have heard of clinical trials, but many are unclear as to what they are and how to find them. When it comes to creating life-changing drugs and innovative new therapies, medical research is critical. And being so actively engaged in your own health care can grant you access to the most ground-breaking treatment options available. It also allows you to interact with leading medical experts from some of the most preeminent medical facilities in the country.

Additionally, participating in a clinical trial helps the medical community better understand worldwide health concerns. In turn, new and effective treatment options can be explored and developed. Volunteering in this way can be rewarding on many levels.

What exactly is a clinical trial?

Clinical research studies are designed to improve human health and well-being by exploring new medical treatments, preventions, diagnostics and medications. Evaluating the safety and efficacy of new approaches is what drives clinical trials, and also what propels advancements in global health.

Clinical trials fall into one of four categories:

Phase I studies assess the safety

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