Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Poison Prevention Week 2017: How to Store Your Family’s Medications


March 19-25th was National Poison Prevention Week. Poisoning is the number one cause of injury-related death in the United States.

According to the CDC, 82 percent of American adults take at least one medication, and almost one third of Americans take five or more. Unfortunately, each year there are 700,000 ER visits and 120,000 hospitalizations due to adverse drug events… many of which are completely preventable through careful use.

At FamilyWize, we spend most of our time thinking about how families purchase and use their medications because we want you to stay healthy. We ask you to please read through these tips and take the necessary steps to protect your family.

How to Safely Store Your Family’s Medications

Store Up, Away, and Out of Sight
Store all medications up and away from children. Be careful not to leave your next dose out on a counter or table. Never leave any medication on a table or counter when you leave the room, even just for a minute.

Use the Original Container
Keep all medications in their original containers with the child safety cap completely and evenly closed at all times.

Monitor Use
Turn on the light each time you give or take a medication to make sure you administer the correct dose. Track or write down each dose to avoid skipping doses or accidently double dosing. Pay particular attention to prescription painkillers and/or medications prescribed for the treatment of conditions like attention deficit disorder (e.g. ADD, ADHD), etc., which can be easier to abuse than other medications.

Practice Safe Disposal
Unused medications should be disposed of as quickly as possible to prevent unintentional ingestion or misuse. Avoid throwing prescriptions into the trash or flushing them down the toilet. Community disposal events are a much safer and more environmentally friendly option (read the FDA’s recommendations here).

Your family’s health and safety is important. For more information about Poison Prevention Week, please visit this webpage.

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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Four Ways to Soothe Your Headache


Nothing works when your head hurts. Headaches are one of the top five reasons people go to the pharmacy and one of the top ten reasons people visit their doctor. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that almost half of the adult population has had a headache at least once within the last year.

So, how do you make the pain stop? Here are four ways to soothe your aching head:

Take a Break
Sometimes headache management is as simple as taking a break from what you are doing. Take a nap, take a walk, or simply sit in a quiet, dark room with your eyes closed. Many people with chronic headache conditions know that retreating from stimulation like bright lights and loud noises can have an immediate impact on how they feel.

Use Massage
While you may not be able to immediately leave work for a professional massage (though those are known to help as well), simply massaging your temples or the back of your neck can help ease headache pain. WebMD and the Cleveland Clinic both recommend applying gentle, steady, rotating pressure to the painful area of your head with your index finger or thumb. Maintain pressure for 7 to 15 seconds, then release. Repeat as needed.

Apply Warm or Cold Compresses
Depending on the type of headache you are experiencing, a warm or cold compress can be very helpful. According to the Mayo Clinic, ice packs have a numbing effect, which may dull the sensation of pain. Hot packs and heating pads can relax tense muscles. This can be in place of or in addition to over-the-counter pain medication.

Speak with a Professional
Finally, get a professional diagnosis. The WHO’s headache fact sheet (find it here) is surprisingly serious in tone. The WHO identifies headache disorders as dangerously underdiagnosed and undertreated conditions.  A doctor can help to identify the cause of your specific pain and recommend a treatment plan that will work for you. Medication, as well as lifestyle modification, may be recommended. If so, remember that the Free FamilyWize Prescription Discount Card or app (Apple or Android) can help you to keep your prescription drug costs low.

Are you a frequent headache sufferer? Share your tips on our Facebook page and help others stop the hurt.

Sources:
http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/migraine-headache/in-depth/migraines/art-20047242


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Five Ingredients Frugal Chefs Love



If you use the FamilyWize Prescription Discount Card, then you already know that a little planning can save your family a lot of money on prescription medications. Well, a little menu planning can also save you a lot of money on your weekly grocery bill!

We combed through some of the most popular budget food blogs to identify five inexpensive (and healthy!) ingredients that even the most frugal chef will love.

Beans
Skip the canned beans – basic dried beans might be the quintessential cheap health food. Canned beans have added sodium – and a higher cost – than dried beans, which you can often buy in bulk.

According to WebMD, “A serving (1/3 cup of cooked beans) contains around 80 calories, no cholesterol, lots of complex carbohydrates, and little fat. In addition, beans are a good source of B vitamins, potassium, and fiber, which promotes digestive health and relieves constipation. Eating beans may help prevent colon cancer, and reduce blood cholesterol (a leading cause of heart disease).”

Rice
Avoid instant rice, boil-in-a-bag, or any other packaged products; buy rice in bulk. Nutrition-focused budget experts encourage brown rice over white, but most varieties are inexpensive and can be used in a wide variety of ways – just be sure to plan for additional cooking time, depending on your cooking method.

Eggs
The all-powerful egg is considered to be one of the best, inexpensive ways to keep protein in your diet. Read price tags carefully – some supermarkets will put cage-free or organic options on sale from time to time, giving you even more choices on a tight budget.

Oatmeal
Again, avoid the “instant” oatmeal or individual packages and buy plain, old-fashioned oats. Oatmeal lasts a long time in your pantry, provides solid nutrition, and can be prepared a variety of ways (have you tried the overnight oats trend?).

Carrots, cabbage, potatoes, and onions
We put these veggies into one category because at most supermarkets they are all extremely inexpensive (artisanal varieties excluded), extremely nutritious, and extremely multipurpose. Keeping these basic produce items on hand makes it easy to pull together a healthy, inexpensive meal.

For even more ideas, check out the Food Network’s 10 Healthy Dinners for about $10.

Motivated to save?  Make sure you download the FamilyWize card or app today!

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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Ask an Expert: Does It Matter When I Take My Medication?


In our new “Ask an Expert” Blog Series, Ken Majkowski, Pharm.D and Chief Pharmacy Officer at FamilyWize, addresses some of the most common questions consumers have when it comes to prescription drugs and drug costs. Ken brings more than 40 years of healthcare experience to the FamilyWize team, including 14 years of clinical pharmacy experience in retail, hospital, and home care. Read his full bio here.

We’ve all taken a medication with food to avoid an upset stomach. Many of us have also been advised by our pharmacist to drink a full glass of water with some medications. But did you know that the time of day you take a prescription drug may also be important? If your pharmacist says to take your dose at the same time each day, please listen!

Timing matters

For certain prescription drugs, dosage timing is critically important. Here are some common examples:

Statins for high cholesterol

Cholesterol production in the liver is highest after midnight and lowest during the morning and early afternoon. Because of that natural rhythm, the British Heart Foundation asserts that statins are most effective when taken just before bedtime.

Blood pressure medication

The timing of blood pressure medication has been a hot topic in the last year. There are some recent studies that suggest that taking blood pressure drugs just before bed can prevent more heart attacks than taking them first thing in the morning. This is because a majority of heart attacks occur in the early morning hours. Having said that, there are many factors to consider. For instance, doctors often recommend that older patients take their blood pressure medication in the morning, because if they take it in the evening, standing up too quickly in the middle of the night can cause a sudden drop in blood pressure and result in a fall. Sometimes split dosing makes sense (i.e. taking half the dose in the morning and half the dose in the evening), but some medications are long acting or cannot be split. It is critical that you discuss dosing with your doctor or pharmacist before making any changes.

Birth control

While you have more flexibility if you take a combination birth control pill (meaning it includes both estrogen and progesterone), if you choose to take a progesterone-only pill, then taking your dose at the same time each day becomes extremely important. Commonly prescribed for breastfeeding women and those avoiding estrogen, the pills work by making cervical mucous unfavorable for sperm. The effect can wear off fairly quickly. Doctors recommend taking your pill within the same (roughly) three-hour period each day to make sure the drug is effective at preventing pregnancy.

If you are unsure when to take a prescription medication, please be sure to ask your pharmacist for guidance. He or she will be able to discuss what will work best for you.

Here’s to a long and healthy life!

 FamilyWize on Facebook and let us know. Find us at https://www.facebook.com/FamilyWize/

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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Never Pay Full Price for Prescriptions, Rental Cars, Home Appliances, or Cable




We don’t believe in paying full price. At FamilyWize, we work hard every day to make sure that you never have to pay full price for your family’s prescription medications. In fact, FamilyWize Prescription Discount Card and App users save an average of about 40 percent on their prescription purchases.

Here are four other things that you should never pay full price for:

1. Magazine Subscriptions
When was the last time you spent over $20 on a consumer magazine subscription? Hopefully, with the exception of a few specialized publications, it was a long time ago. With the proliferation of promotional deals, Amazon.com magazine subscriptions, and sites like DiscountMags.com, there is really no excuse for paying full price. Having said that, it is important to remember that many subscriptions may not auto-renew at the same low price you signed up for. Be sure to watch for your auto-renewal notice so that you can cancel, or better yet, negotiate for a better deal.

2. Rental Cars
When we rent a car at the airport, most of us at least compare deals on a travel site like Travelocity or Orbit.com.  But did you know that you can also look up car rental coupons on RetailMeNot.com? Try it! Many employers also offer corporate discounts, even if you are booking for personal travel, like a family vacation. Check with your HR department to see what is available at your company.

3. Home Appliances
There are multiple tricks to getting the best deal possible on a home appliance. First, consider the timing. Ideally, you want to visit the store when the newest models are being released. The stores will be eager to get rid of last year’s models – opening the door to discounts and negotiation. It is also smart to compare prices at different stores – many stores will price match their competitors and/or throw in free delivery to win your business. A home appliance purchase is definitely one of those times where a little extra legwork can save you hundreds of dollars.

4. Cable/Internet Bundles
We’ve all been there. We pay our cable/internet bill and then hours later see a commercial on TV for a new promotional rate that is better than our current package.  Don’t get angry – just pick up the phone! Most of the time, the customer service representatives are trained to find you a better deal to keep your business, but you have to call and ask. If you aren’t successful on your first call, try again at a different time. You will likely access a different representative who may be more helpful.

Feeling motivated to save? Make sure you download the FamilyWize card or app today!

Sources:




Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Statins: Saving Hearts From Harm



The Free FamilyWize Prescription Discount Card makes life-saving medications more affordable – including statins. When it comes to prescription medications, there are few drugs as necessary to people of all ages as statins, a class of lipid-lowering medications, created with the intention of lowering cholesterol and increasing heart health.

Throughout the 20th century, the field of medical science noted an exponential increase in the number of people whose cause of death was from some form of cardiovascular disease (CVD). By the 1960s, drug companies, doctors, and researchers across the globe were looking for a way to determine who was at risk for CVD and how to treat it or prevent it.

Today, the medical world is aware of the link between high cholesterol and heart disease, but this wasn’t always the case. In 1971, Akira Endo, a biochemist from Japan, began searching for a drug that could lower cholesterol. Endo identified mevastatin and performed tests over the next several years, leading to interest from pharmaceutical giant Merck, despite not yet knowing the major benefits of lowering cholesterol.

Mevastatin was never approved for human trials, but the company developed other statins including Zocor and Mevacor. As late as the 1980s, cardiologists remained largely unconvinced that reducing cholesterol could have any significant impact on reducing CVD. It wasn’t until 1994, when Merck sponsored a massive study involving nearly 4,500 patients that the medical world was convinced. The study concluded that those who used statins saw a 35% decrease in cholesterol and were 42% less likely to suffer a fatal heart attack.

Just one year after the study was published, Merck reported $1 billion in sales on their cholesterol-lowering drugs. Akira Endo received the Japan Prize in 2006 for his research and was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Now, more than 20 years after the landmark study was published, statins are among the most necessary medications in the world for the part they play in keeping hearts healthy. Research into the efficacy of statins continues today, as researchers test their effect on lung cancer, cataracts, hypertension, and other ailments.


The Free FamilyWize Prescription Discount Card has helped more than ten million people save on their prescriptions, including statins. Are you still paying full price? Get your card (or app) and start saving today. 


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Staying in Shape Once You’re Over 60



At FamilyWize, we make it a point to help people save money on the things that they need to stay healthy. We know, more than most, the value of doctors and medications, but medical professionals everywhere agree that diet and exercise are two of the biggest factors in living a longer, happier life.

With that in mind, we’re sharing five exercises geared for people over 60.

1. Swimming

Among the best cardio that anyone can do, this full-body exercise can help get your heart rate up to an optimal level without aggravating most bone or joint issues. Swimming is a low-impact aerobic exercise that builds lean muscle and is great for maintaining a fast metabolism and functional strength without the need to quell joint pain afterwards.

2. Biking

Biking is another low-impact exercise that builds stamina and allows you to exercise all-year round by switching between a stationary bicycle and the great outdoors.

3. Walking

Although seemingly the least exciting of exercises, going for a 20-30 minute walk a few times a week can have a surprising effect on your health. Getting your heart rate slightly elevated and then keeping it there for a sustained amount of time causes the body to torch fat -- an excellent reason to go smell the roses.

4. Rowing

A full-body exercise that can give you a good sweat in just a few minutes. Rowing uses the whole body, building more functional strength and flexibility. It is important, however, to remember that by sacrificing form or attempting to go too fast, it’s easy to harm the lower back. Take this motion slow and steady.

5. Yoga 

The movements and stances can be difficult at first, but they pay dividends. Yoga has a major focus on balance, one of the biggest concerns for people above age 60. The practice also increases flexibility, which means that you’re less likely to sprain a joint or tear a muscle. Nowadays, yoga classes are available at most gyms at a multitude of different levels, so there’s no reason not to give one a try.

Many of these exercises can be done at the gym. Although some gym memberships can be pricey, you can pick one up with all the money you’ll be saving by using the Free FamilyWize Prescription Discount Card. Get yours here.



Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Ask an Expert Pharmacist: What is the difference between Generic and Brand Name drugs?


In our new “Ask an Expert” Blog Series, Ken Majkowski, Pharm.D and Chief Pharmacy Officer at FamilyWize, addresses some of the most common questions consumers have when it comes to prescription drugs and drug costs. Ken brings more than 40 years of healthcare experience to the FamilyWize team, including 14 years of clinical pharmacy experience in retail, hospital, and home care. Read his full bio here.

Patients are often unsure about the differences between generic drugs and brand name drugs.  Let’s address the basics.

First and foremost, it is important to understand that brand name drugs have a generic name as well. When a brand name drug goes off patent, another manufacturer can make a generic equivalent of that drug. There are also therapeutic equivalent drugs, which are made of different chemicals, but work similarly to each other.

For example, Lipitor is a heavily advertised drug used to treat high cholesterol. Lipitor is the drug’s brand name.

Atorvastatin (a TOR vas ta tin) is the generic name. Since Lipitor lost its patent, several other drug companies now make a generic equivalent of Lipitor. That means the FDA requires the generic equivalent to have the same active ingredient, strength, dosage form, and route of administration as the brand name product. They are almost identical (other than possibly some inactive ingredients). Generic Atorvastatin has been proven to be bioequivalent to Lipitor and should work just as well as the brand name product.

Mevacor, on the other hand, does not have a generic equivalent. It is considered to be a therapeutic equivalent of Lipitor. A therapeutic equivalent drug may be in the same class of drugs and may treat the same condition in much the same way, but it is made up of different chemicals.

Why does this distinction matter? When you give your pharmacist a prescription written by your doctor, it is considered both safe and legal for your pharmacist to dispense a generic equivalent drug for the brand name drug named on the prescription (**unless your doctor specifically says not to**). And that is a good thing, because sometimes the cost of a generic equivalent drug is 80 to 85 percent lower than the brand name product. So you will get a product that is proven to work just as effectively as the brand name drug for significantly less money.

However, your pharmacist cannot dispense a therapeutically equivalent drug in place of a brand name drug. Using our example, if you have a prescription for Lipitor, your pharmacist may offer you generic Atorvastatin, but you would need a new prescription from your doctor if you wanted to switch to Mevacor.

As a patient, you can rest assured that generics are safe.  Generic drug recalls are rare, and the FDA closely regulates generic drug producers to protect us from quality issues and adverse effects. For more information, check out the FDA’s website here.

Regardless of whether you take a brand name drug or a generic drug, the FamilyWize Prescription Discount Card can help you to save money on your prescription drug costs.

Do you have another question for our pharmacist? Visit FamilyWize on Facebook and let us know. Find us at https://www.facebook.com/FamilyWize/



Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Save Time and Money with the New FamilyWize Medicine Cabinet



We’re excited to announce the launch of our new online tool – the FamilyWize Medicine Cabinet – a simple way to better manage your family’s prescription drug costs.

A Powerful Prescription Drug Price Comparison Tool

With the FamilyWize Medicine Cabinet, you can store all of your family’s prescription information in one secure location, easily comparing costs and finding the right pharmacy to meet your needs. 

Use the Medicine Cabinet to:
  • Create a personal profile to save and track your family’s prescription drug price searches.
  • Search and compare prescription drug prices within a designated zip code.
  • Bundle prescriptions by pharmacy to see total cumulative costs prior to visiting the pharmacy – no surprises!
  • Compare pricing between generic and name brand prescriptions.
  • Toggle search results between pharmacy locations and drug cost breakdowns to make informed decisions for your family.
  • Instantly download the FamilyWize card or app.

By saving your family’s prescription drug information in one place, you’ll be able to make informed decisions about the best way to fill your family’s prescriptions – without having to call or visit multiple pharmacies or conduct multiple online searches. The end result? You save valuable time and money.

Save Time and Money By Managing Your Prescription Research In One Place

Imagine “Sarah”, a working mother who juggles the healthcare purchases for herself, her husband, and their daughter, who was born with a heart condition. After her daughter’s most recent check-up, Sarah logs into the FamilyWize Medicine Cabinet. 


She updates the dosage information on her daughter’s existing medication. Then she searches to check the price on a new drug prescribed by her daughter’s cardiologist. She discovers that it is fairly pricey at their current pharmacy, but she can save some money by going to a different pharmacy a few miles farther from home. 


She saves that drug into the Medicine Cabinet and decides to see how much money she can save overall by switching to the new pharmacy. 

With just a few clicks, Sarah can see if the cumulative cost of the prescriptions will be lower at the new pharmacy verses their existing pharmacy – without ever leaving her desk or picking up the phone.

Sarah can also update her family’s saved information as often as needed, such as when she switches jobs and wants to check the prices at pharmacies closer to her new office. And, of course, she can quickly and easily download the FamilyWize app or print a FamilyWize card to make sure she is saving as much money as possible on her family’s prescription drug costs.

We Created Medicine Cabinet Because We Care

Over the past 12 years,
FamilyWize has worked hard to help families better manage their prescription drug costs.  Have questions about how to use the Medicine Cabinet? Visit our “How It Works” page for everything you need to get started. If you still have questions or any general feedback you’d like to share, please email us at support@familywize.org. We love to hear from you!



Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Five Ways to Save More Money in 2017



Each January, most of us spend a little time thinking about New Year’s resolutions. According to the experts at Statistic Brain, “make better financial decisions” is the third most popular resolution – right after “lose weight” and other self-improvements (click to read the full list)

Don’t have the time to revamp your entire budget? Here are five low-effort, but high-impact ways to save more money in 2017:

1. Automate, Automate, Automate!
Today, managing your personal finances can be as easy as using a crock-pot – “set it and forget it!” Want to contribute $X to your children’s college funds each month? Set up automatic deposits now and you won’t have to think about it for the rest of the year. Have a credit card? Set up automatic payments so that you are sure to pay it off in full each month. Use automation to your advantage. No willpower required!

2. Pay Yourself First
Lifestyle inflation is when you get a new job with a higher salary, so you buy a bigger house. Then with your higher bonus, you buy a nicer car. Fun? Yes. But unfortunately, you have just used your higher income on two items that require higher monthly payments … so at best, your savings account remains the same, and at worst, you end up saving less each month than before. Instead, use that money to “pay yourself first.” Pay off debts and set up new automatic savings contributions before using what is leftover to make new purchases. By taking that simple step, you will take full advantage of the additional money coming your way.

3. Use a Flexible Spending Account
Many people have the opportunity to set up a Flexible Spending Account, or FSA, through their place of employment. FSAs help us to save money on taxes by using pre-tax dollars for medial expenses, but did you know that they can also help to increase the amount of money you take home each year?  Read the full explanation here and then talk to your HR department about how to set up your account.

4. Identify the Best Time to Buy
Planning to make a few big purchases this year? Knowing when to buy can have a significant impact on your wallet. The experts at Lifehacker put together a comprehensive, up-to-date guide on the best times to buy everything this year. For example, September is the best month to book your holiday travel, but you may get a better deal on a new refrigerator in May. Check out their full analysis here and plan your purchases accordingly!

5. Discounts. Discounts, Discounts!
Sign Up for the Free FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card
Like the four tips already listed, taking this one action can save you money all year long. Go to this page and follow the instructions to get your own FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card. Then show the card every time you fill a prescription. That’s it. Users typically see an average discount of 43% on their prescription drug costs.

With each of these tips, one small change now can have a measurable impact on your savings by the end of the year. How are you planning to save money in 2017?  Share your tips with us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/FamilyWize/

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