Four Ways To Save On Prescription Drugs From Harvard Women’s Health Watch

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Thank you to PRWeb for supplying this article from last months Harvard Women’s Health Watch, please share your thoughts in the comments section…..

pillsNavigating the annual health plan changes, figuring out insurance copays, and finding the pharmacy with the best buys can be daunting. Dealing with Medicare’s medication coverage gap, the so-called donut hole, adds to the challenge. Four basic strategies can help save money on medications, according to the November 2014 Harvard Women’s Health Watch.

Go for Generics – “Generics are just as good as brand-name drugs,” says Dr. Jerry Avorn, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, and they are less expensive than brand-name drugs. Can’t find a generic version of a particular drug? A prescription for a generic in the same class of drugs may do nicely. For example, there isn’t a generic version of Crestor, a cholesterol-lowering statin. But there are five other generic statins that might work just fine.

Periodically re-evaluate drugs. Every year or so, dump all pill bottles in a paper bag—including over-the-counter medications and supplements. Ask a trusted doctor or pharmacist to review them. Some of the drugs may duplicate the actions of others, have harmful interactions with one another, or aren’t needed any more.

Forget about Vitamins, Minerals, and Supplements – These are almost always a waste of money, and can sometimes jeopardize health.

Compare Drug Prices – Different pharmacies pay different prices to manufacturers and wholesalers. They also use different systems to mark up drugs. That can lead to big differences from one pharmacy to another. Several websites make it easy to comparison shop for medications. But trying to get the best deal on each and every drug could mean losing the advantage of having a trusted and knowledgeable pharmacist. A compromise: fill prescriptions at the pharmacy with the best price for the costliest drug.

Read the full-length article: “Four easy ways to save on prescription drugs”

Also in the November 2014 Harvard Women’s Health Watch:

* How to tell if palpitations signal a heart problem

* Tips for exercising in cold weather

* What to do about stiff, painful hands

* Dealing with the holiday blues

Harvard Women’s Health Watch is available from Harvard Health Publications, the publishing division of Harvard Medical School, for $20 per year. Subscribe at or by calling 877-649-9457 (toll-free).

I’m Rare But No Longer Alone

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By Nika C. Beamon

heartI am, and probably always will be, a “drug addict”, forced to swallow pills daily to function like a so called “normal” person. I suspect I was never “normal;” it’s a fact I couldn’t ignore by the time I was in my senior year at Boston College nearly 20 years ago. It’s taken me two decades to learn what is contributing to my body withering down to my “fighting” weight; a thin frame I never thought I’d see again. In fact, I used to joke with my friends that I had eaten the old me long ago so that chick was never coming back. But, here she is. While I am happy to be able to see my toes without peering over the spare tire caused by years of bloating, prescription pills, inactivity, and a diet based on need rather than taste, the fact that I am physically weaker with less stamina reminds me of how broken down I had to get before I found an answer to the mysterious illness attacking me.

The possibility that I was being attacked by an autoimmune condition was bantered about for years. Nearly three dozen doctors lit up my insides like the Empire State Building, dissected pounds of flesh and extracted gallons of blood from me trying to come up with the correct diagnosis. But, they failed time and time again. Instead, I was given a mini pharmacy worth of drugs to “cure” the random illness.

Despite devastating setbacks and unspeakable frustration, I continued to go down a who’s who list of doctors until I got a definitive answer, one that seemed to explain my plethora of problems.

Despite devastating setbacks and unspeakable frustration, I continued to go down a who’s who list of doctors until I got a definitive answer, one that seemed to explain my plethora of problems. It sounds like I’m speaking in code when I tell people what’s ailing me: I have IgG4 related systemic disease. If you’re thinking: “What?” You’re not alone. It’s the same thing I thought the first time I heard it. I had to look it up to understand. So, what is it? It’s a chronic inflammatory disease which can cause excess connective tissue to form in multiple organs. In my case, it has assaulted and honed in on my liver, pancreas and lymph nodes. It’s a rare condition and I have it.

I have a name for the enemy that has sidelined so many things in my life like children, vacations, financial security and basic physical comfort. All I can do is hopefully subdue it with the proper treatment. But, what’s that? Rare conditions like this one make the right course of action difficult to find. I just didn’t know it until I tried to run over to my nearest doctor to say, “Cure me.” The response: There is no cure.

My body may still be broken but my soul is finally healed. It’s not torn apart by doubt and fear of the unknown anymore. I have a new-found peace because I finally know what my ailment is. I can now accept not only my frailties face them with a better frame of mind.

– Nika C. Beamon is a veteran television journalist working in New York. She is the author of I DIDN’T WORK THIS HARD JUST TO GET MARRIED. Through lively and revealing interviews with women from various walks of life, Nika Beamon explores the challenges and issues affecting single women. She’s currently awaiting the publication of her memoir: Misdiagnosed: The Search for Dr. House. To read more about it: In 2000, she published her first mystery novel, Dark Recesses, the poignant tale of David Jackson, a promising, young attorney who travels to rural Virginia for a family reunion and is entangled in a web of betrayal that had been hidden in his family tree. In 2002, she completed her second novel, Eyewitness.

Diabetes Drug Metformin Finally Understood – Leading To Potential New Diabetes Drugs

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By Philip Tucker

diabetesglucoseWhen it comes to reporting on diabetes the news has been almost unrelentingly grim. The number of people with type-2 diabetes has skyrocketed across the globe, and while a better understanding of how diabetes works has led to extended life spans, the mortality rate is also rising. Which is why an article rather cryptically entitled, Biguanides suppress hepatic glucagon signalling by decreasing production of cyclic AMP is such good news – at long last scientists have deciphered the way in which metformin controls the levels of blood sugar in diabetic patients – and opened new potential pathways to developing even better treatments.

One of the most serious challenges facing diabetics is controlling their levels of blood sugar. Overactive glucose production in the liver can lead to serious health problems, as diabetic patients are unable to produce enough insulin to keep this process in check. This is where metformin came in. It lowered the production of liver produced glucose, but nobody quite understood why.

For awhile it was theorized that metformin reduced glucose production by activating an enzyme called AMPK, but this theory was demolished when Nature published a study showing that genetic manipulated mice who had no AMPK still responded to metformin. Enter senior author Morris J. Birnbaum, MD, PhD and Willard and Rhoda Ware Professor of Medicine. Along with his team from the Perelman School of Medicine, they have found through research on mice that metformin works by actually suppressing the liver hormone glucagon’s ability to generate an essential signaling molecule.

Glucagon is a hormone secreted by the pancreas which raises blood sugar levels.

Glucagon is a hormone secreted by the pancreas which raises blood sugar levels. Think of it as the anti-insulin; it does exactly the opposite job. Glucagon causes the liver to release glucose, and it is exactly this process that Dr. Birnbaum and his team discovered that metformin interrupted. Metformin causes the accumulation of AMP in mice, which prevents the signaling peptide adenylate cyclase from acting, reducing cyclic AMP and protein kinase activity, which eventually blocks the production of glucose.

Why are these details important? Because metformin is like a sledgehammer, and causes a wide array of side effects in those who take it, like affecting the mitochondria in cells, impeding their ability to make energy. Our new understanding of how it acts on glucagon could now allow us to take a shortcut and target adenylate cyclase directly, making for a more specific drug that could cut out many if not all of metformin’s side effects—and perhaps even work for those patients on whom metformin has no effect at all.

– Phil Tucker is a sports enthusiast and blogger. Check out his blog to learn more, or visit his site!