The latest updates on prescription drugs and ways to save from the GoodRx medical team

New Albuterol Inhaler Approved: ProAir Respiclick

by The GoodRx Pharmacist on March 31, 2015 at 1:34 pm

Many of you may be familiar with ProAir HFA, one of three brand-only albuterol inhalers currently available. Now, the FDA has tentatively approved a new dry powder inhaler from TEVA pharmaceuticals that will be known as the ProAir Respiclick.

When the pharmaceutical company first filed their new drug application (NDA) for the medication, in July of 2014, it was going to be called ProAir Spiromax, but the name has since changed.

While the current ProAir inhaler uses a propellant to get your medication to you, the dry powder inhalers or DPIs work a little bit differently.

What is a dry powder inhaler (DPI)?

A dry powder inhaler contains medication only in powder form. Dry powder inhalers do not use any propellant to help spray or disperse the medication into the lungs.

Dry powder inhalers rely on your ability to inhale the powder medication in order for it to be dispersed properly.

Several medications for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are available as DPIs, including:

What are some advantages to using a DPI?

For some, it may be easier to use. No hand-breath coordination is required, and you do not need to be able to depress the canister and inhale and the same time. DPIs also do not need to be primed before use, or after long periods without use.

What are some disadvantages to using a DPI?

DPIs may be more difficult to get the hang of at first if you’ve never used one before, and the initial instructions may be more challenging if you’re used to other types of inhaler.

You must be able to breathe the medication into your lungs rapidly on your own, and a DPI cannot be used with a spacer.

The devices may also differ between medications, which can be confusing.


New Insulin Toujeo: Now Approved and Available Soon!

by The GoodRx Pharmacist on March 26, 2015 at 11:35 am

On February 25, 2015, the FDA approved Toujeo—a long-acting insulin indicated to improve sugar control in adults with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

When will Toujeo be available?

According to the manufacturer, Sanofi-Aventis, Toujeo will be available at the beginning of the second quarter in 2015.

What is long-acting insulin?

Long-acting insulin can also be referred to as basal insulin. Long-acting insulin lowers blood sugar levels slowly and evenly for up to 24 hours. This means that Toujeo manages blood sugar between meals and at nighttime.

Are there other long-acting insulins available?

Yes. These medications are also examples of long-acting insulin: Lantus (100 units/mL), which comes in a vial or SoloStar pen, and Levemir (100 units/mL), also which comes in a vial or FlexTouch pen.

Is Toujeo similar to any of the other long-acting insulins?

Yes. Toujeo has the same active ingredient, insulin glargine, as Lantus. However, Lantus and Toujeo are available in different strengths.

While Lantus is available at 100 units/mL, Toujeo comes in a higher concentration at 300 units/mL. Toujeo is also not dispensed in vials, unlike Lantus or Levemir.

In what dosage form and strength will Toujeo be available?
Toujeo will be available as a disposable prefilled 300 units/mL SoloStar Pen. It will be dispensed in packages of three or five pens.

How is Toujeo used?
Toujeo is to be administered subcutaneously ONCE DAILY at the same time each day.

What are the side effects of Toujeo?

The most common side effects associated with Toujeo are hypoglycemia, allergic reaction, injection site reaction, loss of body fat at injection sites, itching, rash, edema, weight gain.


Six Treatments That Really Work on Wrinkles and Sun Damaged Skin

by Dr. Sharon Orrange on March 25, 2015 at 2:27 pm

Photoaging. That’s the term for skin changes that occur with sun and age. You know this as the fine and coarse wrinkles, brown spots, mottled pigmentation, loss of elasticity, and sallow color that happens as we get older.

Sun protection is the best way to prevent or improve photoaging, but other things also work. Many advertised wrinkle treatments have never been tested or been shown to be effective so don’t mess with those—go with something that works. Here are 6 things that do work.

  1. Tretinoin. These are topical retinoids available by prescription. Common brand name versions are Refissa,Renova and Retin-A which are the mainstay of therapy for mild to severe wrinkles and sun damage.  These are used every other night, and several weeks or months of treatment are required before real improvement can be seen. Tretinoin medications come in creams or gels, and the generic form of Retin-A (tretinoin) may be your cheapest bet.
  2. Tazorac. Tazorac (tazarotene) also comes in a cream or a gel. It is more expensive than tretinoin as it does not yet have a generic option. In studies it is as effective as tretinoin for photoaging and wrinkles.
  3. Efudex is topical fluorouracil, which can improve sun damaged skin. It does this by causing skin injury, wound healing, and then remodeling of the dermis (lower layers of the skin) which results in improved appearance. The warning here is that it’s a pretty intense reaction with redness, blistering, and peeling. Most folks think the results are worth it though.
  4. Chemical peels. Chemical peels involve applying chemical substances to remove top skin layers. Sounds gross, I know, but the subsequent regeneration tightens the skin and evens the color.
  5. Sunscreen and hats. That you know, but here is something you might not know. Factors that increase the UV protection in clothing are synthetic fabric (even polyester), tightly woven, thicker fabric and darker colors.
  6. Last, but not least. Though more expensive, Botoxinjectable fillers and laser therapy (aka ablative laser resurfacing) all work well for skin rejuvenation.

Dr O.


Why Are These Medications Dispensed in Their Original Containers?

by The GoodRx Pharmacist on March 24, 2015 at 11:41 am

When you pick up your medications at the pharmacy you may notice that they are typically dispensed in amber colored vials or plastic containers. You may or may not be aware that these amber colored vials are not the original bottle the manufacturer dispensed the medication in.

For the majority of medications, transferring them from the manufacturer’s original bottle to the pharmacy’s amber vials is not a big deal, and lets the pharmacy purchase in bulk (which is more cost-effective)—unless you are taking certain medications.

Some drugs, per the manufacturer, are to be dispensed in their original container due to the sensitivity, integrity, and stability of the medication. Medications can be sensitive to many things including light, temperature, humidity, or moisture. It is important to properly maintain and store your medications according to the recommendations of the manufacturer.

So what are some examples of medications that need to be dispensed and stored in the original container?

Tablets

Orally dissolving tablets

Films

  • Suboxone (foil pouch)
  • Zuplenz (foil pouch)
Capsules

Chewable tablets

Liquid

Injectables

  • Enbrel (syringes, vials, or pens in a box)
  • Humira (syringes or pens in a box)

Which Over the Counter Medications Can Help Your Cholesterol?

by The GoodRx Pharmacist on March 19, 2015 at 2:04 pm

When you think of conditions where an over-the-counter medication will help, lowering your cholesterol may not be the first thing that comes to mind. Most people think of OTC medications for minor problems like cough and cold, allergies, upset stomach, and mild aches and pains.

It may seem strange that there are medications available over the counter for high cholesterol—a problem that you may not even know you have. Unlike a cough or cold, high cholesterol is not a condition that you can physically feel, and your doctor must perform blood work to determine if you have it.

So how and why would you take a non-prescription med for high cholesterol?

First, it’s important to know what causes high cholesterol and what you can and cannot change if you’re diagnosed. High cholesterol can be a result of several factors, including poor lifestyle choices and genetics. Family history or genetics cannot be changed, but poor lifestyle choices can be!

If you are diagnosed with high cholesterol, depending on how severe it is, your doctor may start you out with lifestyle changes and OTC treatments.

Some lifestyle changes that can be helpful include:

  • Quitting smoking
  • Better diet
  • Exercise
  • Weight loss
  • Stricter blood sugar control

And some of the OTC medications that may help:

  • Red rice yeast. A traditional Chinese medication, red rice yeast is available over-the-counter and has been suggested to help lower cholesterol. However, there are various types available, which can lead to confusion and misunderstanding. For example, one of the main issues with red rice yeast: small amounts of the prescription medication lovastatin (used to lower cholesterol) have been found in some formulations. Lovastatin and red rice yeast have a very similar chemical make-up, which may explain why several brands of red rice yeast were taken off of the market by the FDA in 2007 after they were found to contain lovastatin.
  • Niacin. A form of vitamin B, niacin is available over-the-counter and has been suggested to improve a component of cholesterol known as HDL (“good” cholesterol). Niacin may work to increase HDL levels—it is also available in higher strengths by prescription as Niaspan ER.
  • Garlic. Not only for adding to food to enhance flavor, garlic has also been suggested to help lower cholesterol. Garlic supplements are available over-the-counter, but you still need to check with your doctor or pharmacist before using because garlic can negatively interact with A LOT of prescription medications.
  • Fish oil (omega-3 fatty acids). Whether you get this from eating fish or taking the over-the-counter supplement, omega-3 fatty acids have been suggested to help lower a component of cholesterol known as triglycerides. Fish oil is more likely to work in those who have very high triglyceride levels compared to those with moderate levels. Like niacin, higher doses of omega-3 are available by prescription as Lovaza and Vascepa.

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