Monday, July 8, 2013

Forget About It!—How Stress Harms Your Memory

While it’s hardly news that stressful living is not good for us, more recent studies show that stress can negatively affect your ability to think and to remember things.  Fortunately, scientists have also identified a potential solution to treat stress-related damage to the brain.  But until that solution is proven out and becomes available to doctors, here’s what you need to know about the dangers of stress to your memory.

Stress – a known hazard

Long before this recent discovery connecting stress and memory loss, stressful living had already been implicated in a litany of human misery:
In short, stress can tear you up physically and emotionally.  This new research adds memory impairment and decision-making disability to this list – just one more reason to take steps to remove the stress in your life.

Full calendar

Research connecting stress and memory loss

The study, from the State University of New York at Buffalo, found a connection between repeated stress and damage to the brain’s prefrontal cortex – the part of your brain that affects how well you think and remember.

This is not the first study to connect chronic stress with changes in the prefrontal cortex, but this research effort has revealed the how it happens – what neural stress responses actually harm many mental abilities.
The study focused on the effect of repeated stress on the working memory of rats.  Researchers found that stress interfered with the connections between neurons (synapses) in the front of the brain: the prefrontal cortex. 

The prefrontal cortex controls both your working memory and your decision-making prowess.   Unfortunately, stress hormones in the brain zero in on the synaptic connections in this part of the brain.  The number of connections remained constant, but not their functioning; researchers report that the connection quality took a dive, which they identified as a drop in glutamate receptor activity on the very neurons that are known to the quash memory function.

With prefrontal cortex dysfunction to blame for many stress-related mental disorders, as well as memory and decision-making, figuring out the molecular mechanisms affected by stress is a substantial step forward in our ability to understand how stress influences mental abilities.

Is there Light at the end of the stress tunnel?

The researchers in this stress study not only identified the way that stress affects brain function, but also experimented with ways to block these stress-induced decreases in glutamate receptors and the resulting memory malfunction.  Could these synaptic-strangling reactions to stress be prevented?

The answer appears to “yes,” at least in mice.  The researchers used chemicals known as protease inhibitors, injecting them into the prefrontal cortex.  They discovered that this infusion blocked the glutamate receptor damage done by stress. 

Today, this is good news for mice.  But in the future, scientists suspect that this infusion technique may be usable on the human brain as a treatment to prevent the effects that repeated stress has on our brains. 

Stressed man at work

Ways to reduce stress in the workplace

Ironic, isn’t it, that we are often stressed out because of the mental load that a hectic schedule or challenging work assignment puts on us, and yet this stress worsens our ability to manage such tasks and juggle these stressful responsibilities.  Employers can learn from this, taking steps to minimize workplace stress. 

For example, many studies have tied physical exercise to stress reduction.  Providing facilities for employee physical activities (ball courts, fitness centers, game fields, and showers/locker rooms) and encouraging work breaks for using these facilities may provide beneficial stress relief to employees that, in turn, could boost productivity by reducing stress-related memory loss.

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer

Friday, July 5, 2013

Quick and Easy 4th of July Cleanup

The fireworks were spectacular and the food was delicious, but now the 4th of July festivities are over. While house cleanup can seem like a daunting task after a spectacular July 4th, turn it into a group activity, follow a few simple guidelines and wonderful 4th of July memories will be all that linger long after the day is over.

Cleanup and Disposal:

  • Determine if any decorations can be salvaged or reused. For instance, unused sparklers make fun additions to cakes for upcoming birthdays and other special occasions. Other red, white and blue-themed items may be used throughout the summer months. 
  • Separate items that are regular trash from those that require recycling. This is a great task for children and young adults to assist with; make it a fun challenge by color-coding bags or bins for quick collection.
  • According to The Balloon Council, latex balloons re biodegradable and may simply be disposed of in the trash without threat to the environment. However, Mylar balloons, those with a shiny silver finish, are not biodegradable. Yet, these types of balloons can easily be recycled and used for craft projects or as mementos to keep them out of landfills.
  • If sparklers or any kind of fireworks have been used for 4th of July, soak items in a bucket of water before disposing of them. Children should not perform this task unless supervised by an adult. Visit for additional information.
  • Allow charcoals used for barbecuing to burn completely and wait 48 hours before throwing out the ashes. Wrap cold ashes in aluminum foil and place in a non-combustible container for safe and easy cleanup, according to the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association. This particular chore is best let to adults.
  • Remember, an American flag should never be destroyed unless it is beyond repair. In that case, the flag should be disposed of in a dignified manner, preferably by burning. Visit for more guidelines.

Handling leftover food:

  • Any uncooked dairy- or egg-based foods, such as salads made with mayonnaise and desserts topped with whipped cream, should never be left out in the heat. Since bacteria starts to form quickly in hot temperatures, these dishes should be refrigerated or kept on ice during the course of a party. It's safest to discard any questionable food items after a 4th of July celebration to prevent possible food poisoning, according to the ServSafe guidelines of the National Restaurant Association.
  • Grilled meats such as leftover pork or cooked chicken can make healthy meals by utilizing simple recipes. Always refrigerate meats after thoroughly cooking to ensure their safety in leftover recipes.
  • Leftover pork or cooked chicken can be sliced and added to salad greens to create a delicious, healthy summer salad. Other simple recipes using leftover BBQ or grill recipes include wraps, tacos or simply serving grilled meats over rice or pasta, either warm or cold. Check out the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute's Website, for additional healthy meal ideas.

Incorporate these guidelines for house cleanup after your 4th of July celebration and enjoy many more safe summer celebrations this season!

Kathy Rembisz 
Contributing Writer

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Keeping Your Kids Safe This Summer

Summer is the best time to be a kid. It’s the season of beach weekends, camping trips, sun bathing, and long days at the pool. Unfortunately, it’s also the season of riptides, spider bites, sunburns and swimmer’s ear. Injuries, illnesses, and accidents can quickly transform a fun day in the sun into a harrowing – and expensive – trip to the emergency room. Here are a few tips to help prevent some of these summer mishaps and keep the good times rolling.

Emergency room sign

Watch the water

Water safety is no small concern when it comes to protecting your kids this summer. According to reports released by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission , 137 children under 15 years old drowned in a pool or spa during the summer of 2012. According to the report, fifty-four of these fatalities occurred soon after the child moved away from a nearby adult. Talk to your children about the importance of staying close while swimming, and make sure you always keep your kids in clear sight. This is especially important when visiting the beach or a lake, since these places are not usually monitored by a lifeguard.

You may also want to learn about what drownings actually look like. They are less noticeable than many people might assume, which is why parental vigilance is so essential around bodies of water.

Children in water

Watch for critters

Summer is the season of mosquitos, spiders and ticks, oh my! It is a good idea to wear bug repellant when spending extended time outdoors, so go ahead and stock up on your family’s supply. In addition, here are a few other tips to help you deal with unexpected critter appearances this summer:

  • Remember to check your children for ticks on a fairly regular basis, especially since they can often go unnoticed.
  • If you find a tick on your child’s skin, do not panic. Instead, remove the tick immediately with a pair of tweezers. Contrary to popular belief, it is NOT a good idea to use a hot match, kerosene or petroleum to remove a tick. Once removed, you should save the tick for identification, in case your child develops symptoms and needs to see a doctor.
  • You should take your child to a doctor if he or she develops a fever, headache, rash or any other symptoms following a tick bite.
  • Spiders! They may be gross, but the good news about spiders is that only a few species have dangerous bites. The spiders you most need to look out for are the black widow and the brown recluse spider. If you suspect your child has been bitten by one of these spiders, apply ice to the bite to slow absorption of the venom. You should then seek medical attention for proper treatment.
Tick on finger

Stay safe indoors, too

Home safety can sometimes be overlooked when thinking about how to keep kids safe this summer, but the security of your home is an important aspect of summer safety. If your children are the appropriate age, they may spend quite a few hours at home with little to no adult supervision this summer. Make sure your kids know they should never answer the door for strangers. It is also a good idea to keep a list of phone numbers for neighbors or nearby family friends who your children could call if they ever ran into an emergency at home.

Now may also be a good time to invest in a home security system, especially if you are planning to go on family vacations and will be periodically leaving your home empty. If you decide to get a security system, make sure you teach your children how to operate the system to ensure it is used effectively and to avoid false alarms.

Keeping summer fun

A safe summer is a fun summer. Taking a few key precautions can help keep your family both happy and healthy this summer, ensuring that it is a memorable season for all the right reasons.

Brian Jones
Guest Writer
Brian is the father of three beautiful kids and has been writing about personal safety for as long as he has been a dad. Feel free to reach out to him on Twitter

Monday, July 1, 2013

Valley Fever: Is the Epidemic in Your Neighborhood?

Do you live in, or travel to, the southwestern states or abroad?  If so, you need to know about valley fever, a debilitating and potentially deadly illness.

Alarmingly, the valley fever danger zone is expected to widen; experts believe that hotter temperatures may cause the habitat of the mold spores that carry valley fever to expand beyond the current zone. 

Are you at risk?  Read on to make sure you understand valley fever risks, valley fever symptoms, and valley fever treatment options.

What is valley fever?

This debilitating illness comes from a common fungus found primarily in the southwestern U.S., as well as Mexico, Central America, and South America.  The valley fever fungus, also known as Coccidioides, lives in soil. Simply inhaling particles in the air from this fungal soil is enough to make you ill with valley fever, also known as Coccidioidomycosis.

Not everyone who breathes in the valley fever fungus will get valley fever.  Those who do get it usually develop flu-like symptoms.  However, unlike most flus, valley fever symptoms often lasts for weeks, or even months.

The severity of the valley fever symptoms differs from one victim to the next.  For those hit hardest by valley fever, the infection spreads, going from the lungs to the rest of the body.  When this happens, some have suffered meningitis or even death.

How big of a threat is the valley fever outbreak?

Valley fever is under close public health surveillance by the CDC in 15 states. In 2010 alone, there were over 16,000 reported cases, most of them in Arizona and California, and the annual number of cases has been increasing in recent years.

A March 2013 CDC article states that more than 20,000 new cases of valley fever are reported each year in the United States.  The number could be much higher though, as scientists believe that many more cases go undiagnosed. Some researchers put the valley fever estimate at more than 150,000 people affected annually, with many of its victims not knowing why they are sick or with what.

Who is at risk of getting valley fever?

Who you know or associate with does not affect your risk; valley fever is not contracted from others, only from contact with the Coccidioides mold.  Factors that do increase your risk:
  • Where you live or travel to matters, as mentioned above.   The CDC’s valley fever risk map below shows the higher-risk areas in the U.S., where valley fever in endemic:
    Valley fever map
  • Have you recently moved to an endemic area?  Those who do are statistically more likely to get infected by valley fever than current residents.
  • While anyone can get valley fever, age can increase risk.  Valley Fever is most often contracted by older adults, particularly those 60 and older.
  • Other demographics groups that are at a greater risk for developing the severe forms of valley fever include African Americans, Asians, women in their third trimester of pregnancy, and those with weak immune systems.
  • Weather or natural events, such as earthquakes and dust storms, can be a risk factor too.  Outbreaks of valley fever sometimes happen when events like these disturb large amounts of soil.


Symptoms of Coccidioidomycosis (Valley Fever) 

The  valley fever symptoms usually appear between within the first three weeks after exposure to the fungus.  If you’re lucky, the valley fever fungus may cause just very mild flu-like symptoms that go away on their own.  If you develop a more severe infection, you may experience fever, Image of Skin lesions due to Coccidioides immitiscough, headache, muscle aches, joint pain in the knees, joint pain in the ankles, or skin lesions/rash on the upper trunk or on your extremities, Such as the one shown here.  One valley fever victim described symptoms as utterly sapping energy reserves.

In the most advanced cases of valley fever, you can expect skin lesions, meningitis, chronic pneumonia, bone infection, or joint infection.

The one good piece of news regarding your risk of getting valley fever: once you get valley fever, your body develops immunity that will protect you against future infections. That said, some have experienced a "relapse" – symptoms getting worse after initially getting better.

What should I do if I am exposed to valley fever spores?

If you feel you have been exposed to the fungus and develop symptoms of valley fever, contact your healthcare provider (or contact the Occupational Health Department at your business if you had an exposure at work or in a laboratory.

There are no over-the-counter medications for valley fever and there is currently no vaccine to prevent you from contracting valley fever.  But if you develop valley fever infection, treatments for valley fever are available and usually effective. If you develop symptoms, contact your healthcare provider.

Often, treatment is not necessary, since symptoms may resolve on their own. Some doctors will prescribe fluconazole or a similar antifungal medication to prevent a severe infection. 

If you are in a high-risk group, get treatment as quickly as possible; if you develop a severe valley fever infection, you’ll need to be treated with antifungal medications as advanced valley fever can be fatal if not treated. In the most severe cases of valley fever, you may need respiratory supportive therapy or hospitalization.  In severe valley fever cases, the nervous system can experience long-term damage.  Those with weakened immune systems can develop chronic pneumonia.

If you think you have coccidioidomycosis (valley fever) ask your healthcare provider if you need treatment.

How can I learn more about valley fever?

You can get more information about valley fever from articles at University of Arizona,, Arcadia News, Mayo Clinic, or from the CDC.

If you live in an area with Coccidioides in the environment, contact your local or state health department for the most up-to-date information.

Ric Moxley 
Contributing Writer

Friday, June 28, 2013

Avoid These Common Fireworks Fiascos

Many of us are counting down the days to big Independence Day celebrations, many of which often involve that American tradition of fireworks.   And we really don’t want to put a damper on your merriment, but we really do want you to have a safe time.  The federal Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) says that nearly 9,000 of us end up having a very bad time around the fourth of July, spending some of our day or night being treated in an emergency room with fireworks-related injuries. 

Clearly our country is stretching the definition of “month” by defining June 1 to July 4 as National Fireworks Safety Month, which we do, but we’re okay with that, since the injury and fire risks go up before the fourth.  In fact, 70 to 75 percent of fireworks-related injuries each year occur during a 30-day period surrounding the July 4th holiday (June 23--July 23 specifically).  So, let’s get the word out now before summer celebration plans get blown to bits by a fireworks accident.

People watching fireworks

Ugly stats on fireworks injuries

When you need to get someone’s attention regarding the dangers of fireworks activities, spark their interest with these disturbing fireworks accident statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
  • Fireworks injuries are often severe. Seven of every 100 with a fireworks-related injury end up hospitalized.
  • Children are often those injured by fireworks. About four of every 10 fireworks injuries are to children 14 and under.
  • Under-the-table fireworks are deadly. Illegal and homemade fireworks were responsible for every single fireworks-related death in 2012.
  • Guys don’t do fireworks better. Sorry, gents, but you are statistically three times more likely to be the one injured in fireworks accidents compared to women.  And boys aged 10--14 years have the highest rate of injury. 
  • Small fireworks do big damage.  Sparklers and firecrackers are together responsible for 35 percent of all fireworks injuries.
  • Hands are a common casualty.  Injuries from fireworks do damage to all body parts, but 34 percent of injuries are to the hands, followed by facial injuries (12 percent), and then the eyes (17 percent).
  • Fireworks injuries are expensive.  Fireworks-related injuries add up to an estimated $100 million annually.
Beyond the risk of injury, fireworks often cause home or vehicle fires. In 1997, for example, the U.S. National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reported direct property damage figures of $22.7 million from fireworks.

Tips for safe fireworks fun

The following safety tips, most of which are from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), will help you to stay safe when you are enjoying your holiday with fireworks: 
  • Leave it to the pros. Yes, fireworks are legal in some states and municipalities.  That said, the CDC and CPSC encourage us to let fireworks be be done by trained fireworks experts.
  • Have adult supervision of all fireworks activities. Even sparklers, which burn at around 2,000 degrees, can do serious damage.
  • Keep a ready supply of water in case a fire occurs.
  • Don’t let young children take part, except by observing.
  • Keep all parts of your body out of the line of fire.  Many injuries occur while lighting fireworks fuses from this error in judgment.
  • Don’t attempt to relight fireworks that don’t fully ignite.
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Only light your fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.
  • Don’t carry fireworks in your pocket.
  • Don’t ignite fireworks from metal or glass containers – they can become shrapnel!
  • Douse the spent fireworks with water before calling it an evening, and especially before discarding your fireworks.
  • Are fireworks legal in your area?  Make sure before buying or using them.
If you or someone in your party receives a fireworks injury, seek immediate help or dial 911.

Take fireworks safety a few steps further

To learn more or do more to promote fireworks safety, try this:
This Independence Day season, have a blast ... a safe blast.  Remember: fireworks safety this season is in your hands.

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Bacteria–Gross or Good?

Bacteria. The word itself conjures up images of icky, gross, scary stuff that we want to avoid.  But is bacteria getting an undeserved bad rap? 

Certainly, bacteria is to blame for a history of undesirable, dangerous, and even deadly maladies.  But the more scientists learn about our bodies, the more they learn that some bacteria is not only safe, but essential to our health and survival as a species. 


But, Momma said that bacteria is bad…

Momma wasn’t wrong – some forms of bacteria are bad – the kind that cause disease. These bacteria are called “pathogens,” and can cause all kinds of trouble, such as:
  • Bacterial pneumonia, which is caused by bacterial infection
  • Acne breakouts, which are caused by a bacterium called Propionibacterium
  • Food-borne illnesses caused by bacteria, such as Campylobacter jejuni and Salmonella
  • Streptococcus A – better known as strep throat
  • Clostridium botulinum – better known as botulism – potent enough that one teaspoonful could kill every human being in the United States!
  • The “Great Dying” event that scientists say occurred 250 million years ago, producing enough methane to choke out most life on Earth – recent scientific data suggests that a single strain of marine bacteria could have caused or worsened it.
But here’s what Momma didn’t know. Even as she may have told you that you are one of a kind, the truth that scientists are learning is that we as individuals are not “one” at all; we are actually “superorganisms” – a collection of several hundred microbial species – a human host to a few hundred trillion bacteria.

The bacteria live on your skin, on your tongue, and mostly in your intestines.  Scientists estimate that you have a couple pounds of body weight purely in the form of microbes in your gut alone.

Ooh, gross! – Pounds of bacteria in my intestines??

Actually, you want to cozy up to these gut microbes – most of these trillion microbial guests are good bacteria – that kind that make your life better.  For example:
  • Gut bacteria is what creates vitamin K in your system.
  • Good bacteria can battle bad bacteria in eye infections
  • Good bacteria break down plant starches that your body otherwise has difficulty digesting
  • Good bacteria help your body convert calories into fat, some of which is necessary for survival
  • Bacteria help your body break down cancer-causing carcinogens
  • Bacteria help the walls of your digestive tract renew itself
  • Bacteria help your immune system to function properly
Scientists refer to the massive microbial community in your body as your microbiome.  The microbiome is such a new area of study that scientists cannot yet conclusively tell us what a healthy microbiome should contain, but they are learning more every day.  But what they are already sure of is that, if your health is “off” in some way, or if your body’s systems have what appear to be areas of weakness, it’s likely because your microbiome is off kilter – that you lack certain organisms, or have too many of a certain kind, weakening your body’s ability to deal with stress, or properly metabolize foods, or handle allergies, and so forth (read more on how you can improve your child’s health by encouraging the good bacteria).

Kefir and probiotics

How do my bacterial levels get healthy or unhealthy?

Scientists are discovering that many factors can negatively influence your microbiome.  Among them:
  • Not being born vaginally – exposure of the fetus to the birth canal appears to kick start the microbiome of the newborn.
  • Living in too pristine an environment – microbial exposure over the course of life appears to aid the health and diversity of the microbiome.
  • Lack of dietary diversity – exposure to a wide variety of foods, especially unprocessed foods, such as fruits and vegetables, strengthens the microbial environment of your gut.
  • Lack of social exposure – apparently, we rub off on each other, literally.  The more people you interact with, the more diverse your microbiome becomes, and diversity seems to strengthen it.
  • Lack of dietary fiber and probiotics in your diet.
  • Exposure to antibiotics – though an antibiotic may be necessary to overcome an illness, antibiotics kill off the good bacteria at the same time.
  • Antimicrobial compounds in the diet or environment – antibiotic residue is often found in meat, milk, and even surface water.  Even the frequent use of antimicrobial hand sanitizers, while protecting us from bad bacteria, are also killing off the good bacteria.
Girl playing with dirt

Is there anything I can do to improve my microbiome?

Your biome is largely formed by the time you are three years old, which is why it’s important to nurture a healthy microbiome from the earliest years.   That said, it is possible to positively influence your microbial innards and avoid those things that can harm it. For example:
  • Do not keep your toothbrush too close to your toilet – flushing can aerosolize some of what’s in the toilet bowl.
  • Avoid giving your  children antibiotics except when medically necessary.
  • Let a bit of dust settle in your home – your smallest children will benefit from early exposure to the “real world.”
  • Let your kids play in the dirt – the exposure can aid their microbiome diversity.
  • Encourage your family’s exposure to animals — petting a dog, for instance, spreads good bacteria from one human to another.
  • Reduce or eliminate processed foods from your diet.
  • Get some “prebiotics” in your diet – foods that stimulate the growth or presence of healthy bacteria in your body.  Fermented foods can help, such as kimchee, yogurt, and sauerkraut, which contain probiotic bacteria.
  • Expand your microbial biodiversity by consuming a wide variety of polysaccharides – plant foods that are high in fiber.
If you find the subject of healthy bacteria and how to positively influence your microbiome, read this lengthy but fascinating article from the NY Times online.  

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer

Monday, June 24, 2013

Rogue Pharmacies—A Danger to Your Health AND Wallet

Sure, who doesn't want to save a buck or two these days?  With the high cost of prescription medicines, many are tempted by the enticingly cheap prices of drugs they see at online pharmacies.  Before you get too curious yourself, you’ll want to know the results of an alarming 2013 report by The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy.

Whether or not you use the free FamilyWize discount card, we consider it a public service to let you know the latest news on the high risks of buying drugs from online pharmacies.

Trustworthy online pharmacies will always require you to have a doctor's prescription for your medication

Are all online pharmacies bad?

You likely know the expression, “One bad apple doesn't spoil the whole bunch.”  But when it comes to the reliability of online pharmacies today, it turns out that 97 out of every 100 of them are bad apples, according to The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP).   In their January report, involving nearly 11 thousand online pharmacies, the NABP discovered a full 97 percent were out of compliance with U.S. laws.

And this isn't just an overseas problem – the danger is right here in the U.S..  According to the NABP, 9,938 of the rogue online pharmacies identified as being businesses not recommended for U.S. consumers, roughly half of them are selling drugs to U.S. residents, drugs that are of foreign origin or that have not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 

These rogue pharmacies are often disguising themselves to their prospective online customers as being of Canadian or American origin—not hard to do with simple website design—and yet they are often operating their business from other countries, many that have lax or no regulatory controls in place. 

How dangerous is this situation?  Potentially deadly. Many of these unregulated pharmacies, the NABP reports, are also selling counterfeit, expired, adulterated, or contaminated drugs.  If you are not getting the drug that’s on the label, not getting it in the correct dosages (too strong or too weak, due to lack of standardization in manufacturing), or getting drugs that have unapproved fillers or additives, your very life could be in danger.  According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), even slight differences in your medicine can make a big difference in safety.  Medicine that is not FDA approved, even if it was approved by another country will like have variations or different ingredients that the FDA says can cause you to get sicker, develop a resistance to your medicine, or cause new side effects. 

The FDA warms that your risk increases if you take more than one medication, as the differences between what you were expecting to take and what you may  be actually taking from a questionable pharmacy could also affect the way other medicines work or cause harmful interactions.

Not just health risks, but financial risks as well

The FDA is concerned enough about these unregulated online pharmacies to use uncharacteristically harsh language, calling them “fake online pharmacies” in this article.  Their concern is based on the fake pharmacies’ lack of adequate safeguards to protect not just your health from their products, but the potential danger to your personal and financial information from either careless or intentionally malicious practices with the information you provide during your online transaction.  In some cases, the fake pharmacy sites exist only to infect your computer with viruses or sell your personal information to other rogue websites and Internet scams—you’ll never receive your purchased drug, just a nightmare of financial trouble.

Efforts to stop rogue pharmacies

Some good news:  Because of the NABD report’s discoveries and other recent efforts, collaborative U.S. and cross-border enforcement efforts are under way:
  • One such operation, the 100-country Operation Pangea, brought about the shutdown of literally thousands of rogue pharmacy sites.
  • produced evidence of fake drug sites that resulted in about 5 thousand rogue sites getting shut down.
  • The FDA has started BeSafeRx, a national campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of buying prescription medicines from fake online pharmacies. This campaign provides the resources to help consumers know the risks of online pharmacies, identify rogue online pharmacies, and how to find reliable online pharmacies.
As well, the NABP is taking steps to curb rogue pharmacies by working to form a .pharmacy Web domain, which will only be made available to legitimate online pharmacies, just as the .gov domain today is only available to government agencies.  The effort is not in place yet, but will go far to helping consumers easily identify the real online pharmacies from the fakes.

How do I find trustworthy online pharmacies?

Yes, there are legit, licensed, reliable online pharmacies—the “good apples.” How do you identify them?  Look to the FDA for help.  Medicine that is approved for use in the United States has been reviewed for safety and effectiveness by the FDA.  The FDA offers the following characteristics to help you identify safe online pharmacies. A reliable online prescription drug store will always:
  • Require you to have a doctor’s prescription.
  • Have a license with your state board of pharmacy.
  • Provide a verifiable physical address and telephone number in the United States.
  • Offer a pharmacist to answer your questions.
How can you know if an online pharmacy is licensed to do business in your state?  Easy; just check out the FDA’s Find your state’s pharmacy licensing database search engine. 

Safe ways to save money on your prescriptions

FamilyWize can help.  Whether you seek to buy your prescription drugs online or at your neighborhood drug store, you can save up to 75 percent on prescription medication just by printing and presenting your FREE prescription card from  FamilyWize functions like a huge consumer group buying service for the uninsured and underinsured. The medication discounts are provided voluntarily by the more than 61,000 participating pharmacies that have agreed to provide prices similar to what they give large insurance companies and employers.  To learn more, see How the Discount Card Works, look up drug prices, or look up participating pharmacies.

Ric Moxley 
Contributing Writer