Showing posts with label prescription drugs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label prescription drugs. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Taking Steps to Reduce Prescription Costs

According to the CDC, nearly 20 percent of the $263 billion spent yearly on retail prescription drugs in the the U.S. was paid out of pocket. And according to the Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI), per-person spending on prescription drugs is now over $700 per year. And for those in the 55-64 age bracket, it's even higher, at more than $1,700 per year.

HCCI’s latest stats also show that health care spending grew nearly three and a half percent in 2014 alone, with most of that increase going to brand name drugs – a $45 jump in per-person spending! The cost of prescriptions went up - even though we used nearly 16% fewer brand prescriptions than in 2013. Women are feeling the pinch the hardest; out-of-pocket spending on prescriptions by women has been higher than spending by men every year since 2010.

With prescription spending high and statistics showing a steady rate of increase over the past five years, it’s time to take constructive steps to manage your prescription costs.

Take steps to reduce your prescription costs

Data from the National Health Interview Survey showed that, to save money, almost 8 percent of U.S. adults did not take their medication as prescribed, which can be dangerous. Specifically:
  • Adults under 64 were nearly twice as likely as adults older than 65 to have not taken their medication as prescribed to save money
  • Among adults under age 64, uninsured adults were more likely than those with Medicaid or private coverage to have not taken their medication as prescribed to save money
  • The poorest adults were the most likely to not take medication as prescribed to reduce prescription spending
  • Some adults ameliorate their prescription costs by reducing the dosage and frequency recommended
Rather than taking a potentially serious risk to manage your costs, consider the following smarter strategies to safely reduce your spending:
  • Ask your doctor if a less expensive but equally effective medication is available. For example, there are time-released brand name drugs prescribed to treat ADHD that can cost 10 to 20 times more per month than the non-time-released version of Ritalin
  • Buy generic versions of drugs whenever your doctor/pharmacist agrees to this cost-saving alternative to name brand drugs
  • Use the free FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card or FamilyWize smartphone app, available in the Apple App StoreGoogle Play, or the Windows Store - this can save you as much as 75% off the cost of your prescriptions, and guarantees you'll get the lowest price
  • See if you may qualify for free preventive care services under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) - the right preventive care can sometimes keep you from needing a prescription at all
  • If you are on Medicare, use the Medicare National Mail-Order Program, which not only saves on ongoing prescription costs, but on gas money as well
  • If you receive insurance through your work, check to see if your employer has a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) benefit, which can save you as much as 30% yearly on out-of-pocket medical expenses
  • Check your mail’s weekly ad flyers and coupon books, which may have neighborhood drug store discounts on prescription drugs
  • Join your pharmacy’s loyalty program if they have one
  • Use the FamilyWize Drug Price Lookup Tool, which can help you compare prices at different pharmacies in your area
For more cost savings strategies, download our free Live Healthy, Live Smart® eGuide, written by an expert pharmacist with over 30 years of experience.

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer

Monday, August 20, 2012

Understanding Generic Drugs

Answers to Four Common Questions about Generic Medications

prescriptions drugs
Generic medications save consumers 80% to 85%.
Below are some of the most common questions that people have regarding generic drugs:
  • Do generic drugs really save me money?
  • Are generic drugs a safe substitute for name brand drugs? Are generic medications the same quality?
  • Why is a generic medication sometimes not available for a brand name drug that I need?
  • How do I find or get generic medicines in place of a brand-name drug?
  • What prescription drug insurance issues must I be aware of?
Let’s take a look at these five common questions (or, as the case may be, misunderstandings) about generic drugs so you can be informed when you go to your pharmacist or doctor.

1.  Do generic medications really save me money?

Oh, yes!  The average amount saved by U.S. consumers monthly by purchasing a generic medicine rather than a brand name drug with their prescription is $3 billion every week, according to a September 2011 economic analysis of generic drug use by the Generic Pharmaceutical Association (GPhA).  That’s $158 billion that Americans save each year with generic drugs!

How much you save personally from switching to generic drugs will depend on how many drugs you use and whether the brand name prescriptions you use are available in generic form.   But the savings can be substantial; Generic medications are up to 90 percent less expensive than their name-brand prescription equivalents, and the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) reports that on average, the generic drug will cost you 80-85 percent less than the brand name product.

2. Why is a generic medication sometimes not available for a brand name drug that I need?

Most pharmaceutical companies get a patent for the drugs that they develop.  Until that patent expires, their drug will only be available legally (i.e., without patent infringement) under their own manufacturing: their own brand name.  This is why just half of the brand-name drugs on the market are currently available in generic form.

While this may seem unfair from our perspective as consumers, the cost of research, development, and patent approval are enormous for any new drug entering the U.S. market.  The patent protection allows the drug manufacturer to recoup its investment before any other company can manufacture or distribute the drug as a generic equivalent to the original name-branded drug.

This also explains why a generic drug can be sold for so much less; the manufacturer of the generic drug only pays for the cost of making the drug, not the cost of research and FDA approvals. 

3.  How do I find or get generic medicines in place of a brand-name drug prescriptions?

In most cases, you must simply ask your pharmacist if the drug you’ve been prescribed has a generic equivalent.  If it’s made in generic form, the pharmacy usually carries it or can order it for you.
Some pharmacists will ask if you want the generic drug instead, but this is not always the case.  So, be sure to ask!

4.  What prescription drug insurance issues must I be aware of?

    Almost none.  Most health insurance companies that provide prescription drug insurance benefits cover generic medications at the same rates of out-of-pocket versus covered amounts as they do with name brand prescription.

    Insurance companies benefit from the savings of generic drugs just as much or even more so than we do and often get involved  in advocacy for more generic drug availability, especially now that so much research, data, and evidence support the facts that generic medications are cheaper and as reliable as name brand drugs.
    medicine name brand drugs
    Insurance companies advocate for generic drug availability.

    Summary: Generic Drugs Are Both Safe and Good Economics!

    Most data, not just government sourced, supports the facts; you can safely control health costs for you and your family by using generic drugs to substitute for the name brand drugs prescribed by your doctor.  

    Want to dig deeper?  Check out these resources:
    And while you’re working for ways to trim your prescription costs, make sure you’ve printed out your FREE FamilyWize prescription card.  Show it to your pharmacist to save even more!  Generics are less than name brand drugs and with FamilyWize, you'll save up to 75% on your generic medications!

    Thursday, June 28, 2012

    Affordable Health Care - The Court's Decision

    It has been decided.  The Supreme Court made their ruling regarding the Affordable Care Act.  The court upheld the mandate that the federal health care reform bill, brought forth by President Obama and Congress, can require Americans to buy health insurance or pay a penalty stating that it is "characterized as a tax," which is permitted by the Constitution.
    medicine uninsured health care cost
    Supreme Court passes federal health care reform bill.

    FamilyWize does not take a political position on this decision.  Our stand is that we fully support affordable health care for all children, individuals, and families in the United States.

    But even as government moves forward to implement the federal health care law, there is nothing in legislation that mandates coverage of prescription medications.  

    There is an unprecedented and growing need for prescription medicine coverage.  More than 80 million people in the U.S. are uninsured or underinsured.  More than ever, people need access to affordable medical and prescription coverage.  

    Even when this Affordable Care Act is implemented in 2014 problems with the rising cost of medical bills and prescription medication do not go away.  In order to make health care more affordable, insurance plans are cutting out or cutting back healthcare coverage, and especially prescription coverage.  No matter who you are in America; the increasing costs of getting necessary prescription medicines may seem to be an UN-Affordable act.

    There Are Options and Help with Your Health Care Bills

    Since 2005, FamilyWize has been working with the United Ways to provide affordable prescription medicines to everyone in America whether they have health insurance or not.  FamilyWize has set a goal to "reduce the cost of medicine for children, families, and individuals by $1 billion by the end of 2015."

    affordable health care
    Family Wize discount drug card is free nationwide.
    With the constant changes in Medicare, Medicaid, and increased expenses to state and federal governments, every person can help another person get a FREE FamilyWize United Ways prescription discount drug card. We are a country "united" and we need to work together to make affordable options in prescription drug costs.  Across our country over 60,000 pharmacies are providing discounts to individuals and families who may not otherwise afford their prescribed medicines.  From the Medicare Donut Hole to middle and lower income individuals and families who are uninsured or under insured - health care costs are on the rise for everyone.

    So please take one minute today to help do your part in making health care more affordable.

    Print a discount drug card or text the word "family" to 700700 and  start saving money on prescription medications!

    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, 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, 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 4, 2012

    FamilyWize Showers Amber!

    Amber opens shower gifts at

    Oh, boy!  The FamilyWize family will be getting a little bit bigger! Team leader, Amber, and her husband are expecting their first child, so we threw her a little "surprise" baby shower at the office. 

    And oh, was she surprised! Amber was showered with tons of loot for her baby boy who will be here before we know it! 

    As with planning the perfect surprise baby shower, having a baby requires planning.  One of the many decisions a woman has to make concerning her pregnancy, besides which color to paint the baby's room or what to name the baby, is which prenatal vitamin to choose.  

    For all those soon to be moms out there like Amber, do you know that FamilyWize can help with prescription prenatal vitamins?
    participating pharmacies FamilyWize card
    Team Leader Amber at Family Wize surprise baby shower

    FamilyWize saves an average of 18% on prenatal vitamins. DuetDHA, PreNexa, Prenate, NataChew are just a few of the prescription vitamins we have helped women fill.  To see the other prenatal vitamins the program can help with, use our Drug Price Lookup tool.

    If your doctor writes you a prescription for a FDA approved prenatal vitamin, check out the list of our participating pharmacies to see where you can take your prescription.   Don't forget to use the FamilyWize Card to see if you can get additional discounts on other medications you are prescribed as well.

    If you have questions about your prenatal vitamins, only your doctor can provide advice on which one to take.  If you have any questions about FamilyWize, visit our FAQ Page

    Krysta W.