Showing posts with label Medications. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Medications. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Thyroid Awareness Month: What You Need to Know

What is your thyroid? It’s a tiny butterfly-shaped gland in your neck, and while it may be small, thyroid issues can cause a whole range of serious health problems that can result in expensive medical bills. January is Thyroid Awareness Month, making it a great time to learn more about this important part of your body.

The thyroid is one of your endocrine glands, which produces hormones that affect your breathing, digestion, and heart rate. It helps you use energy, stay warm, and keep your organs working properly; In addition, your thyroid plays a role in regulating your body temperature. The more hormones your thyroid produces, the faster these systems in your body go. These systems working together are known as your metabolism.

According to the National Institute of Health, about 1 in 20 Americans over the age of 12 have an underactive thyroid, a condition known as hyperthyroidism. This causes bodily functions to slow down. A much smaller number of Americans, about 1 in 100, have hypothyroidism, an overactive thyroid, which can also cause problems.

Aside from these conditions, other health issues related to your thyroid include goiter, when your thyroid gland enlarges, thyroiditis or swelling of the thyroid, and thyroid nodules, which appear as small lumps in your neck. Thyroid nodules are extremely common and usually harmless, but it’s best to have them checked by a doctor to make sure they aren’t related to thyroid cancer.

In many cases, a thyroid condition can be difficult to diagnose, because the symptoms can seem unrelated. If you have an overactive thyroid, you may be prescribed medication that will help you regulate the flow of hormones. For an underactive thyroid, artificial hormones can help.

The cost of prescription medication can really add up, especially if you take them each month for long-term conditions or chronic diseases. If you’re looking for ways to save on your prescription medication bills, or simply interested in spending less money, free prescription savings card like the one offered by FamilyWize can be a great option.



The FamilyWize card can save you up to 75% off the total cost of your prescription medication, simply by showing it to your pharmacist when you pick up your prescription. It even works if you have insurance - simply show the pharmacist your FamilyWize card in addition to your insurance card, and ask for the lowest price. So if you’re taking medication for your thyroid, or are simply trying to spend less money in the New Year, print out a free FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card or download the free app on your smartphone!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Check Your Expiration - Prescription Meds

With the cost of prescription medicines rising, many people might be tempted to hold on to a medication just in case they need to take them again.  Maintenance medications, those we take on a daily basis for chronic medical issues, are filled on a regular basis.  But what about medicine we take for seasonal allergy relief or for temporary pain?  Should we hold onto unfinished portions?  Is it safe to take them again, even if they are a little past their expiration dates?

expired medine
Expiration dates on medicine also called discard after date.
Expiration Dates
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) started requiring expiration dates on medicine sold by prescription and over the counter.  Expiration dates can be found on the prescription label, the bottle, or box of the medication.  The FDA contends that medication expiration dates help in determining a medication's effectiveness and safety after expiration.  Expired medication can lose its effectiveness and in some cases can even pose a threat to one's health.  Tetracyclin for example is an antibiotic that can cause serious kidney damage if taken after expiration date.  

Most expiration dates range from one to five years.  However, in some states, pharmacies are required to give a prescription a one year expiration date once they have re-bottled and dispensed it.  Berkeley University advises that under ideal conditions, many medications remain stable long after their expiration dates.  However, most people do not keep their medications in these conditions.  Once the bottle is opened, a medication begins to break down. Exposure to sunlight, extreme temperatures or moisture affect the stability of medications.

Are All Expiration Dates Equal?
Berkeley University lists the following medicines that break down quickly and should not be used past the expiration date.
  • Liquid antibiotics
  • Liquids requiring refrigeration
  • Insulins
  • Nitroglycerine
  • Epi-pens
The following are medications that may be safe to use, although could be less effective, after expiration.
  • Cold remedies
  • Topical ointments and creams
  • Pain relievers
  • Sleeping aids
Medication packaging also contains information regarding safe storage and expiration dates.  As with anything we eat or put on our skin, if it is discolored, has a strong odor or has changed in appearance, for example become powdery, it should be discarded.

effects of expired medicine
Expiration dates on over the counter drugs.
 The FDA advises that expired medication can pose a health risk if taken after the expiration date, especially if not stored properly.  It is important to read and follow the instructions for proper storage of both prescription and over the counter medications.  They should  be stored in a controlled climate and properly sealed in their containers.

Medicine Storage Do's & Don'ts
  • Do store in a cool, dry, dark place away from heat and moisture.
  • Do refrigerate when indicated.
  • Do not store in a bathroom medicine cabinet.
  • Do not store in your car.
Medications can start to break down and lose their potency (also called efficacy) once they are exposed to air and different temperatures.  Does this automatically mean that the expired medicine poses a health risk?  Not necessarily.  Berkeley University explains that there is no evidence to suggest that expired medication is harmful to your health.  It could depend on the medication.  Many experts feel that it is not worth risking.  The FDA advises not to take the risk.  The chemical composition of a medication can start to break down due to improper storage and this could be dangerous.

Even if  there does not seem to be a threat due to an expiration date, consider these reasons for properly discarding unused medications.  Robert H. Shmerling, M.D. of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center advises:

Medication Dangers
  • Abuse - Prescription pain killers are often abused, especially by teenagers.
  • Accidental dose or overdose - Children and the elderly can take medications by accident.  Taking a medication that is not prescribed can be dangerous even in a small dosage. 
  • Pets - Like children and elderly parents can get into medications, too.
  • Poisoning - Medication poisoning is a leading cause of death from poisoning.
As a full time caregiver, I will also add that it is very easy to grab the wrong prescription or even over the counter bottle on a busy morning.  Last summer while my mother was taking Coumadin, a blood thinner, she had several different dosages available.  Patients who take Coumadin often experience dosage changes, especially when they first start taking the blood thinner.  It can change every two weeks, or even more frequently.  I had to keep the different bottles well marked and separated in order to avoid giving her the wrong dosage.  Too much and she could bleed to death.  Too little and she could develop a deadly blood clot.

For some medications, we might have to keep some on hand.  For most we do not have to.  Don't make your job harder. Discard expired medication and avoid medication dangers as much as possible.

As rising costs continue to influence how long we hold onto prescription and over the counter medications, expiration dates will factor into our decision to keep or discard those old bottles.  If you are cost conscious, as most of us are, remember that the FamilyWize prescription discount drug card is free and can be used at over 61,000 participating pharmacies.  Save up to 75% off the cost of prescription drugs.

If you do have expired medication, come September is the DEA National Take Back Initiative.  This initiative allows you to return expired medicines so that they are properly disposed of.  We will be posting a blog in September as a reminder and give you more information about where you can go.  In the meantime, check with your pharmacy or FDA.gov for proper disposal directions of over-the-counter and prescription medications.

Caroline Carr
Contributing Writer

Friday, June 29, 2012

Options for MediCare Part D Prescriptions

Working at FamilyWize really gives me assurance that there are always options when it comes to getting needed prescription medicine - even those of you in the donut hole who are probably asking, "Now what?" 


medicare prescription assistance programs
Light on the other side of the Donut Hole.
If you are new to Medicare and the Part D prescription coverage gap, then there are a few things you need to know:
  1. There is a temporary gap in prescription coverage depending on the plan you've chosen so your monthly prescription medication costs may rise.
  2. Whether or not you enter into the coverage gap is based on your drug plan spending for those drugs that are covered.
  3. Once you enter whether or not you will exit the donut hole additional funds and qualify for catastrophic coverage for the remainder of the year is based on your out of pocket expenses while in the Medicare coverage gap.  
Confusing? For more information or help go to www.medicare.gov or call 1-800-MEDICARE or check with your pharmacist.


If You Calculate That You Won't Spend Enough Money Out of Pocket to Qualify for Catastrophic Coverage... Then Here Are Tips to Make the Best of the Coverage Gap While You Are In It



If you do enter the coverage gap, as promised from last week's blog "The Dreaded Medicare Donut Hole"; here are some options and resources on how to land softly and survive the donut hole dunk! 

If you think you will spend enough to get out of the gap - DO NOT use these options.
  1. Compare, Compare, Compare - If you are not going to spend enough to get out of the donut hole, say it with me-COMPARE!  There are many options from manufacturer rebates to store programs that may be able to help you save a chunk of money.
  2. Chat with your Pharmacist - Your pharmacist is aware of different programs that can be used in conjunction with Medicare Part D insurance.  Talk to your pharmacist to see which program would work best for you based on the medications you are prescribed.
  3. Talk to your Doc - Your doctor doesn't necessarily know what health insurance you have because there are medical billers whose jobs are to handle insurance matters.  (I know this because a good friend is one!)  Let your doctor know that you are a Medicare Part D recipient and have fallen into the donut hole. See if your brand-name prescription medications have generics that could be just as effective.  Your doctor might have some other tricks like changing your medication's strength or dosage to save you money or even hook you up with some samples to get you through to the other end of the gap.  Who doesn't love samples! 
  4. Resources - National Council on Aging (NCOA) is a non-profit and advocacy organization that works with various organizations to help seniors find jobs and benefits, improve their health, live independently, and remain active in their community.  It offers a free service called BenefitsCheckUp.  After you answer a series of questions, it creates a personalized report of the programs that may be able to assist you in areas such as medication, food, and housing.  You can also view different State Pharmaceutical Assistance Programs put together by Medicare.gov that may be able to give you a hand.
  5. Talk it Out - Check out message boards or blogs to connect with people who are in the same boat you are.  It might make the process a little bit easier.  Online support can be a great resource.
  6. FamilyWize - We can help Medicare recipients who have fallen into the donut hole.  If you know you won't get out, you can use FamilyWize FREE discount prescription drug card to save up to 75% on your generic medications.  FamilyWize can be used for FDA-approved medications in and out of the gap that aren't covered by Medicare when purchased at a participating pharmacy.
Whether you are in the donut hole or are able to spend enough to get catastrophic coverage,  we want to help you find options!  If you know of options that are not listed here, please share!

Krysta W.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Don't Pill'fer Your Medications Potency This Summer

 "Store Medications at Room Temperature"


Those four words are etched on most pill bottle labels, but how many of us travel with temperature-sensitive medications follow those words? 


Temperature Medications Sensitive
Medications left in car can lose potency.
Summer is here, which means higher temperatures, vacation travel  and the potential for compromising medications that require a temperature controlled environment.

We all do it:  leave the inhaler in the glove box; the insulin bottle slips between the seats; and those nitroglycerin tablets fell out of the blazer pocket when thrown in the back seat. 

Leaving medications that are sensitive to heat does more than simply warm them.  When prescription medications are left at above room temperatures, like in a hot car, it affects how potent and effective the drug is.  During peak summer months, interior car temperatures can reach over 110 degrees, which well exceeds the 72 degree room temperature typical for medications. 

Here are a few tips on how to travel smarter with your temperature sensitive medications:

1.  Don't leave medications in your car when you're not. Think of them as a pet- you wouldn't leave a dog in a hot car, would you?! Don't leave them to sweat it out in the trunk either, but somewhere air circulates to keep a safe temperature.

2.  Certain prescription drugs are more susceptible to heat than others and require a controlled temperature
  • Insulin, which is used to treat diabetes patients, degrades very quickly when exposed to heat and should never be left in a car.  According to the American Diabetes Association, current bottles of insulin should be stored at room temperature and extra bottles can be stored in the fridge.  It should never be stored in the freezer, in direct sunlight, or in the glove compartment of a vehicle. 
  • Nitroglycerin, used by those who have heart conditions, is affected very quickly by heat.  According to Drugs.com, Nitroglycerin is to be stored at room temperature and away from heat, moisture, and light. 
  • Inhalers, a device used to treat Asthma, contain medicine in a pressurized can.  According to Proventil, a brand of asthma inhaler, exposure to temperatures above 120°F may cause bursting. 
  • Epicene, used for the emergency treatment of allergic reactions (anaphylaxis), is another drug that should not be exposed to heat.  According to Drugs.com, EpiPens should be stored at room temperatures, not refrigerated or frozen, and stored away from heat, light, and moisture.  Brief storage at temperatures between 59 and 86 degrees is permitted.
3.  Check with your doctor or pharmacist to see if your medication is able to be refrigerated.  Depending on the medication, sticking your medications in a cooler usually has a lesser affect on medication than heat.  Find a cooler with a strap so you can tote it around on your shoulder to shield your medications from the heat and sun.

4.  Before you down your medicine, be sure to check the anatomy of your medicine.  If it comes in the form of a capsule or pill, double check to make sure they aren't stuck together or wilted.  If your pills don't look the same after they were exposed to heat, it's probably best to check with your doctor or pharmacist to see if they are still safe to consume.

5.  If traveling on a plane, do not check your prescription drugs with your luggage. Most cargo holds are not climate controlled so the potency of your pills cannot be guaranteed.  Throw your pills in your carry on bag - that way you know they are safe. 

6.  Most pharmacies will provide a one time replacement for incidents like these.  Check with your insurance company, or drug manufacturer to see if it will replace your medicine.  If your insurance company will not provide a replacement for your overheated med and you have to purchase it at retail price, print out a FamilyWize Card and take it to one of our participating pharmacies.  Eight out of ten times, FamilyWize can give you a discount on your FDA approved medication.

Of course, only your doctor or pharmacist can provide professional advice on effective ways to store medications.

So, who else is guilty of leaving their medications in a summery place? Comment to share your PILLfered potency story!

Krysta W.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Vacation - Don't Forget to Pack!

Ah, summer --  the time of year when kids are off from school, The Beach Boys never grow old, watermelon becomes a food group, and bathing suits are considered clothing. 

Summer is also the prime season to vacation.  But when leaving for vacation, have you ever had that feeling of "I'm forgetting something" cloud your mind?

You can tie a string around your finger, leave Post-its all over the place, but there is always that one item (or five) that forgets to make the trip. 

Before you venture out for summer vacation, here is a list of of commonly forgotten items.  (Our helpful way of making sure they ARE in your suitcase.)
  • Shampoo, Conditioner
  • Toothbrush, Toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Razor 
  • Soap
  • Sunscreen, Lip Balm
  • Bug Spray
  • Glasses/Contacts
  • Cooler
  • Chair
  • Shoes
  • Clothing 
  • A Great Book  
  • Phone Charger
  • Camera
  • Water
  • Snacks 
  • Prescription Medications
  • And last, but not least...your FamilyWize Card
Medications summer vacation pharmacies
FamilyWize prescription drug card saves on medications nationwide.
Just in case you lose or run out of your medicine, the FamilyWize card can be used at more than 60,000 pharmacies nationwide.  Whether you are traveling from Concord, New Hampshire to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina or Helena, Montana to Honolulu, Hawaii, the FamilyWize prescription drug card can accompany you on your travels and still help you receive a discount on your medication- even when you are hundreds of miles from home sweet home.

When tying a string around your finger doesn't work, what is the most common item you forget on vacation? Let us KNOW!

Krysta W.