Archive for January, 2018

Poor Prescription Adherence Rates Are Due Directly to Drug Prices

Posted by on January 31st, 2018

Prescription adherence is a big problem. Despite spending hundreds of billions of dollars every year on prescription drugs, Americans only take 50% of them. What’s the reason for this? Why spend all that money and only take half? That’s a question that the medical community has been wondering about for a long time. Of course, big pharma doesn’t really care if their products are taken, just that they are purchased. But for doctors who are trying to improve the lives and health of their patients, non-adherence is a big deal. It’s also a big deal for the patients themselves who stand to benefit from the positive effects of the medication prescribed. And it’s a big deal to the medical system as better drug adherence would reduce complications and needless hospitalizations.

There are numerous devices in existence to help people remember to take their medication on time. There are alarms, pill boxes laid out by each day of the week, and there are even pill bottles that count down the time between your last dose and your next one. None of these items has been proven to be more effective than each other to improve prescription adherence. They all work on the presumption that non-adherence is caused by forgetfulness. While that may be true in some cases, it clearly isn’t the case for most people.

So what is the problem? Why is non-adherence such a big, ongoing issue for the American healthcare system? It turns out the core of this problem lies not in patients’ memory, but in their pocket books. Back in December, the New York Times reported on this issue. It noted that forgetfulness didn’t appear to be a big factor in prescription non-adherence. It turns out that money is. The price of prescription drugs causes people to try and conserve them as much as possible. They will split them, skip doses, or not fill prescriptions to keep their costs down. The more affordable a medication is the more likely it is that people will take it as prescribed.

So what’s the implication of this? It’s kind of startling. It seems you can lay the responsibility for poor drug adherence rates right at the feet of big pharma. The billions of dollars big pharma rakes in every year on the backs of cash strapped Americans are directly responsible for those Americans not taking their prescription drugs. It shows you who the priority is for the big pharmaceutical firms. It’s not people, it’s ultimately themselves; it’s greed pure and simple. If they truly cared about the wellbeing of patients they would lower their prices so people could afford to take their prescriptions. Adherence and overall health levels would improve. Big pharma could lower its prices and increase sales because more people would regularly take and refill their medication.

Big pharma’s bottom line is all that really matters to big pharma. But for the millions of doctors who have to gain an expertise in, and have to prescribe, prescription drugs and patients who need prescription drugs, pharma’s bottom line is making their jobs harder. Prices are the main reason why people don’t adhere to their prescription drug regimens. Until pharma acknowledges their culpability in prescription non-adherence, and takes steps to rectify the problem, this issue will continue to negatively impact patients all over the US.

Stop Thinking About It, Quit Smoking Now!

Posted by on January 29th, 2018

It is January and the time of year when many people make New Year’s resolutions. Most make some sort of commitment to self-improvement like losing weight, eating better, reading more, or getting on some sort of social media diet. For others the goal is to stop or change bad habits and the most common one is smoking. There is absolutely no question that smoking is harmful and damaging to your health. It is the single leading cause of lung cancer and is responsible for others too, like esophageal cancer. It is also a cause of COPD and other breathing problems. There are other issues like cardiovascular disease, heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

There is really no good reason to continue smoking with all we know about its consequences. It’s also very expensive. Many jurisdictions in Canada and the United States heavily tax cigarettes and tobacco products because they’re easy sources of income. Since smoking is considered a social ill, tobacco taxes are also unlikely to attract a lot of protest.

Smoking cessation is difficult. But fortunately there are products available to help. Quitting cold turkey takes a lot of will power and many people find it overwhelming. Several prescription products are available which can help. These include Chantix, including the starter pack, and Nicorette products like gum, patches and nasal spray. Canada Drugs carries all these products and more. Discuss the right smoking cessation strategy with your doctor and then visit our online pharmacy or give us a call at 1-800-226-3784 to see if we can help you save money.

When Was The Last Time You Evaluated Your Prescription Drugs?

Posted by on January 26th, 2018

When was the last time you re-evaluated your prescription drug usage? If you’re like many people, taking your daily medications has become routine and you may be taking them without knowing whether or not you still need to. This is a problem called polypharmacy and it’s more common than you think. It’s estimated that a quarter of people aged 65-69 take at minimum five prescription drugs to control various chronic conditions. That number climbs to 46% for people aged between 70-79. Many people take even more than five prescription drugs. Sometimes all these drugs are necessary but often they are not. As an article appearing on Kaiser Health News points out:

“The glide path to overuse can be gradual: A patient taking a drug to lower blood pressure develops swollen ankles, so a doctor prescribes a diuretic. The diuretic causes a potassium deficiency, resulting in a medicine to treat low potassium. But that triggers nausea, which is treated with another drug, which causes confusion, which in turn is treated with more medication.”

Often this occurs when you’ve seen multiple doctors who have treated you for varying complaints. Doctors may not be comfortable questioning the prescriptions of colleagues. In any case if you’re taking multiple medications it’s worth taking stock on a regular basis to make sure you still need to take all of them. This is a conversation you can have with your doctor during a regular visit. You can also ask your pharmacist for their opinion as well. While this is a decision you wouldn’t want to make without a physician’s advice, a pharmacist may be able to give you an idea if it is a problem or not. Who knows, you may find that some drugs you’re taking are no longer necessary and that could end up saving you a lot of money.

This process is called de-prescribing. It was established first in Canada and Australia but is gaining momentum in the United States. Its intent is to systematically discontinue drugs that are not appropriate, that are duplicative (that is multiple drugs that do the same thing), or unnecessary. This is a methodic process which may require some time and careful observation to get right, but it can be very beneficial, particularly for elderly people.

If you’re taking a particular medication or medications it never hurts to ask your doctor to review the drugs you take to see if they’re still necessary.

How We Ship Temperature Sensitive Products in Winter

Posted by on January 24th, 2018

It’s cold outside. Doesn’t seem to matter where you are in North America you’re getting blasted by Mother Nature. Here in Manitoba, and much of Canada, we’ve been dealing with temperatures hovering between -32°C to -20°C (-26°F to -4°F) since Christmas. After all, winter isn’t winter until there’s a polar vortex swirling around. Low temperatures may be normal in a North American winter but it does cause a variety of problems. Apart from non-starting cars and slipperier roads, the cold weather can have negative effects on some medications. Some prescription drugs are sensitive to temperature and lose their effectiveness if they become frozen or at the least too cold (or too hot).

Canada Drugs takes the safety of our patients very seriously. We endeavor to ensure that the medication you ordered arrives in ready-to-use condition. To protect products sensitive to cold temperatures we package them in a special way. Products are placed in a Styrofoam box with a warm pack to keep the temperature consistent. Also included is a freeze watch indicator. This device monitors the temperature of a package and indicates if the package temperature dropped below freezing. This way we can know if the medication is still safe to take. In addition we express ship temperature sensitive medications in the winter months to ensure it gets to our patients as quickly as possible.

This way hopefully your prescription drugs are not overly affected by our brutal winters. If you have any questions about how we ship temperature sensitive medications, or have questions about your own medication, please don’t hesitate to contact us at 1-800-226-3784 or at [email protected]

Hookworm Resurgence Exasperated By Huge Price Jump

Posted by on January 22nd, 2018

In 1910 John D. Rockefeller donated $1,000,000 to fund the Rockefeller Sanitary Commission. The commission’s mission was to eradicate hookworm in the American South. At that time upwards of 40% of southerners were infected with the parasite. The parasite causes such symptoms as stunted growth, anemia, digestive problems, bloated bellies and even a propensity to eat dirt. The parasite is easily acquired and spread. The treatment was simple and cheap; a combination of Epsom salts and thymol. Even back then this treatment cost pennies. While total eradication was not achieved, rates of infection were brought so low that the commission felt local doctors could handle the problem without further assistance and shut down.

The Rockefeller Sanitary Commission was one of the first large scale public health awareness and treatment efforts. It essentially invented the idea of public health as a societal institution. Since then many public health campaigns have been undertaken; for example, the campaign to vaccinate all children against polio beginning the in the 1950s.

Hookworm is still around today and after many years has re-emerged in the US. The treatment today is a 200 mg tablet of a medication called albendazole. But, unlike in 1910 when John D. Rockefeller donated $1,000,000 to eradicate the parasite and provide free treatment, the pharmaceutical industry is charging $400 for 2 pills!…So much for following the example of America’s greatest philanthropist. In other parts of the world, like Tanzania, these two pills will cost you 4 cents. It’s absolutely ridiculous and obviously price gouging, it can’t be anything else. The pill’s US manufacturer, Impax Laboratories, says the reason is because US regulations are stricter. But are they so strict that they justify a price 10,000 times greater?

Parasitic infections aren’t pleasant to think about. Luckily we have medications that can, for the most part, eradicate them. The problem is they’re pretty much unaffordable if you’re in the US. There’s no reason for this. Many of them have been around a long time. They should be inexpensive generics. The problem is drug companies can get the FDA to re-designate the drug for a specific purpose and thus acquire new exclusivity. US drug regulations need to become more favorable to consumers than to industry. As it stands, they favor the industry to the detriment of consumers’ pocket books.