Tuesday, October 27, 2015

What Should I Ask My Pharmacist?


Most people think of their pharmacist as someone who simply fills their prescriptions. They may not be aware that your pharmacist can be an excellent source for information and advice - not only when it comes to prescriptions, but also with nonprescription medications, herbal supplements, and safe use, storage, and disposal of medicine.

If you’re one of the 44 percent of Americans who regularly take prescription medication, this list of questions to ask could come in handy the next time you go to the pharmacy.
  • What is this pill supposed to do for me? If you take a lot of pills, it can get confusing as to what you’re taking and why. Don’t be embarrassed to ask your pharmacist about what the names of your medication are, what the ingredients are, and what the medication is supposed to do - in an emergency, this information could be critical.
  • How do I use this? There are many health aids that can be tricky to know how to use the first few times, such as inhalers or injections. Ask your pharmacist for guidance on items that may take special skills or understanding to use them properly.
  • How, when, and for how long should I take this medication? Medications are only optimally effective when used properly. That means knowing how long you should continue to use them, how many times a day you should take them, and how many you should take at a time. Some things that are good for you in one quantity or duration can be bad for you in another. For example, a short-course medicine, such as an antibiotic to treat an infection, may only be needed for 7-10 days, but must be taken for its full course of treatment, even if you begin to feel better sooner. Your pharmacist can guide you in all this!
  • Is there an optimal time to take this? Some medicines and supplements are best taken at night, because they can cause drowsiness. Others may have a stimulant effect and should best be taken early in the day. Ask your pharmacist if you’re not sure when the best time would be to take your medicine.
  • Can I take this on an empty stomach? What about with food? Some drugs can make you queasy if you don't take them with food. Other drugs may not work as well if taken with food. Your pharmacist can help guide you through any dietary restrictions with your medication.
  • How can I avoid any drug interaction issues? Certain things can interfere with the effectiveness of your medicine. Even something as simple as sunlight exposure can be a problem with certain drugs. Be sure to ask what is safe to do while taking your medicines. To give you the best answer, your pharmacist may need a complete list of medicines you take, including prescriptions, over-the-counter, and herbal products, so have one ready when you call or visit your pharmacy.
  • What's the best way to store or dispose of my medications? How long a drug stays safe or effective often depends on how it is stored. In addition, when you have outdated drugs or medications that you no longer need, keeping them in your home can be a risk to others or yourself. Your pharmacist is an expert on the best way to dispose of drugs.
For more valuable pharmacy and medication tips, download our free Live Healthy, Live Smart® eBook. We’re offering this booklet to celebrate our tenth anniversary of helping individuals, families, and communities save money on their medication - click the link for your free copy, and get more great tips on medication savings and safety!

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer


Monday, October 19, 2015

FamilyWize Turns 10!



October is a major milestone in FamilyWize history - it's our 10th birthday! Since 2005, we have worked tirelessly to improve the health and well-being of individuals, families and communities.

Originally, we were only focused on Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley, where our headquarters is located. However, as our operations have expanded, so has our focus; we now provide prescription savings to consumers in every state!

We are able to provide these discounts by way of our free FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card and our extensive network of partner programs. Today, that network includes the United Way, the National Council on Aging, and the American Heart Association, among others.

With help from these partners, we’ve been able to help more than 8.8 million people save over $925 million dollars on their medication costs.

Ray Bullman, Executive Vice President of the National Council on Patient Information and Education (NCPIE), another FamilyWize partner, says, “FamilyWize has a long tradition of delivering value to consumers and raising awareness of the need to talk about medications, from access to affordability to advocacy, through their partners. We congratulate them on their successful 10-year milestone and look forward to working together to promote safe, smart prescription use.”

To make this anniversary even more significant, we’ve just launched a new educational campaign in support of "Talk About Your Medicines Month," established 30 years ago by NCPIE in an effort to promote the wise use of medicines through trusted communication for better health.

The centerpiece of our campaign is the release of our Live Healthy. Live Smart.® eBook. This free educational guide provides valuable information about prescription medications — from what you should ask your pharmacist, to how to get the best prices at the pharmacy, to how to dispose of your medication safely.

"We are thrilled to partner with NCPIE as part of Talk About Your Medicines month and our own 10th Anniversary. We believe that it is critical that all consumers not only have access to the medications they need, but also have access to information on issues surrounding prescription medications, whether that be the importance of taking your prescriptions regularly or how to save on prescription medication costs,” said Joseph Sanginiti, President and COO of FamilyWize.

To get your free eBook of helpful pharmacy tips and advice, click here to download it or read it online. The eBook also includes a FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card, which is accepted at over 60,000 pharmacies nationwide and can help you save an average of 42% on prescription medication. Here's to another decade of helping people save!

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer











Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Did You Get Your Flu Shot Yet?



Each year, the flu is responsible for infecting millions, causing hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations, and resulting in thousands of deaths. In addition, the flu can be costly and result in missed time at work and school. A report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services indicates that parents spent between $300 and $400 in flu-related medical expenses for their children in 2012. In addition, parents reportedly missed between 11 and 73 days of work caring for children affected by the flu.

The flu can and does affect individuals of all ages. However, certain groups are more at risk than others:

  • Men and women 65 years of age and older.
  • Children younger than 5 years old are especially susceptible to the flu. Studies indicate that 2 year old children are at particular risk.
  • Those with chronic health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, AIDS and HIV put individuals at higher risk for complications of the flu.
  • Pregnant women.
Medical professionals agree that getting a flu vaccine is the most important step you can take to prevent the flu. The CDC recommends a flu vaccination for everyone 6 months of age and older. Unfortunately, many individuals don’t get their flu shots due to the cost.

In preparation for flu season, FamilyWize is working with Walgreens to help curtail this costly and potentially deadly virus by distributing thousands of free flu shot vouchers to individuals across the country. Visit the FamilyWize website for a list of event dates and locations.

Since the program’s inception in 2011, Walgreens, together with the U.S. Department of Health and Human services and organizations such as FamilyWize, has helped to distribute more than $40 million worth of flu shot vouchers. It’s just one of the ways FamilyWize has been helping families and communities stay healthy and save money for over ten years.

If you don’t already have a FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card, cards will be available at all of the flu shot events. While other cards may require registration or a membership fee, the FamilyWize Presscription Savings Card is free to use and may provide additional savings on medication costs. The FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card is accepted at more than 60,000 pharmacies nationwide.

FamilyWize and Walgreens are making it easier than ever to get your flu shot. So, don’t forget to protect yourself and your family from the flu this season by taking advantage of this opportunity!

Live Healthy. Live Smart.
-FamilyWize

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Drugs & Diabetes: Six Cost-Saving Strategies


According to the CDC, diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States, with more than 600,000 deaths annually. It also creates high health costs for many families, with sources estimating the national cost of diabetes at over $132 billion a year. If you suffer from diabetes, these six tips can help you ease those costs and stay healthy.
Tip #1: Use mail-order services for prescription discounts
Under Obamacare, Medicare now has a National Mail-Order Program, which can save you quite a bit on lancets, test strips, batteries, and other common diabetes supplies. Plus, it’s all delivered straight to your door, which can save you time and gas.
Tip #2: Use Obamacare’s free preventative care options
Most of the plans under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are required to provide free preventive care services, which would include screening for diabetes if you’re an adult with high blood pressure or if you’re pregnant. Though the coverage rules vary by state, ACA’s free preventive care also includes medical nutrition therapy for those with diabetes.
Tip #3: Use your FSA
If your employer offers benefit plans with a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), you can save substantially – up to 30% – on your out-of-pocket medical expenses.

The way a Flexible Spending Account works is by letting you set aside pre-tax money from your salary to put towards expected medical expenses. By doing this, you effectively reduce your taxable income. You can then use the money you set aside to cover many medical expenses not covered by your health plan, such as copays and over-the-counter medications.
Tip #4: Use a free discount prescription card
You can save an average of 42% on your prescriptions by using the free FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card or the FamilyWize smartphone app.  To download the app, follow these links to the Apple App StoreGoogle Play, or the Windows Store. Last year, the FamilyWize card saved over $175 million on prescriptions!
Tip #5: Take advantage of other discounts via coupons and rebates
There are many things you can do as part of your regular shopping routine to save money. For example:
  • Watch the weekly ad flyers or coupon books coming to you in the mail from your drug store.
  • Keep an eye on your area drugstores’ websites for digital coupons you can print or save on your phone.
  • Ask if your pharmacy has a loyalty program. A higher volume customer, such as a person with diabetes, can often get frequent discounts on general merchandise or even prescription medications.
Tip #6: Go generic
Buying generic (unbranded) versions of drugs can reduce your cost of diabetes care, sometimes significantly.  Read more on the cost advantages of buying generic drugs at WebMD.

The most important thing: Do not let limited funds keep you from your necessary diabetes drugs.  According to a 2004 University of Michigan study, 11 percent of diabetes patients skip diabetes medication doses because of the high cost. Inevitably (as confirmed by other studies), this worsens blood sugar control. By using the tips provided here, you can help ensure you're leading a savings-smart, healthy life.

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer