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

Introducing the New GoodRx for Medicare

by Elizabeth Davis on May 31, 2016 at 6:41 am

Medicare Part D and Advantage plans are meant to help make prescription drugs more affordable for seniors.

Ask any senior about their Medicare coverage, however, and you’ll find out that Medicare coverage is far from perfect. Many prescriptions aren’t covered, there are all sorts of rules and limitations, and then there’s the dreaded “donut hole” coverage gap.

GoodRx has completed a multi-year effort to analyze Medicare drug plans, and has found thousands of opportunities for senior to save.
Today, GoodRx is launching GoodRx For Medicare to help seniors take control of their prescriptions and find savings.

Key features of GoodRx For Medicare include:

  1. Drug Price Lookup: Instantly look up prescription drug co-pays for any of the 30,000+ Medicare Part D and Advantage plans in America. No need to sign up, register, and completely free to use.
  2. Find Savings: Many prescriptions can be purchased for less than the typical Medicare co-pay. GoodRx finds savings and shows Medicare consumers when they can actually save more by NOT using their prescription drug coverage.
  3. Compare Plans: Use GoodRx for Medicare to instantly compare prices for your prescriptions across multiple plans and see which plan is best for you.
  4. Know Limitations: Just because a drug is covered by a Medicare plan doesn’t mean the plan will make it affordable. Over 44% of prescriptions have coverage limitations which can prevent Medicare consumers from affording their prescriptions. like doctor authorizations, quantity limits and more. GoodRx lets you know about the “fine print” which plans won’t tell you about in advance.
  5. Create A Prescription Spending Strategy: Worried about the donut hole? Use GoodRx to control your Medicare spending in new ways.
  6. Find Help For Non-Covered Drug: Many popular drugs are simply not covered by Medicare. GoodRx can provide huge discounts of up to 80% on those prescriptions.

What does this mean for you? If you have Medicare coverage, it still pays to shop around. For the top 20 Medicare plans in America, 66% of prescription drugs can be purchased for less than your typical Medicare co-pay using discounts found on GoodRx.

Search for your prescription now to see your co-pay (and how much you can save):

Two New HIV Drugs Hit Pharmacies

by The GoodRx Pharmacist on May 26, 2016 at 3:32 pm

For years, HIV and AIDS treatment required several different pills—many of which were large and hard to take, and came with side effects like nausea and vomiting.

Today, advancements in HIV treatment can mean taking as little as one pill at a time—and two more options, Odefsey and Descovy, were just approved by the FDA.

What is Odefsey used for?
Odefsey is a complete regimen for the treatment of HIV-1 in patients 12 years and older. It’s used as an initial treatment—meaning you may be prescribed Odefsey if you have no history of antiretroviral treatment—or to replace a stable treatment regimen if you’ve been virologically-suppressed for at least 6 months.

What is Descovy used for?
Descovy is used in combination with other antiretroviral medications for the treatment of HIV-1 infection in patients 12 years and older.

Are Odefsey and Descovy similar?

Yes. Both Odefsey and Descovy contain the same two active ingredients, emtricitabine and tenofovir alafenamide. Odefsey also has an additional ingredient, rilpivirine.

Is there anything unique about Odefsey or Descovy?

Yes. Odefsey is the second tenofovir alafenamide (TAF) based single-tablet treatment for HIV-1. The first was Genvoya.

TAF-based regimens are easier on the kidneys and better for the bones, meaning they may be a preferable option.

Descovy is still used with other medications (it isn’t a single-tablet regimen).

How will Odefsy and Descovy be used?

The recommended dose of Odefsey is a single 200 mg/25 mg/25 mg tablet taken by mouth once a day with a meal.

The recommended dose of Descovy is a single 200 mg/25 mg tablet taken by mouth once a day with or without food.

What are some common side effects of Odefsey and Descovy?

Side effects of Odefsey may include depressive disorders, insomnia, headache, and nausea.

The most common side effect of Descovy is nausea.

When will Odefsey and Descovy be available?

Both medications are in pharmacies now.

Want more information?

See the press announcement for Odefsey here and the announcement for Descovy here.

FDA Safety Alert: Quinolone Antibiotics

by The GoodRx Pharmacist on May 25, 2016 at 2:46 pm

The FDA has issued a safety alert for a certain type of antibiotics: fluoroquinolones, also known as quinolones.

According to the FDA, there is new information that quinolone antibiotics may cause very serious side effects when used to treat sinusitis, bronchitis, and urinary tract infections.

What kind of serious side effects can occur if a quinolone antibiotic is used to treat these conditions?

Heads up—this is a serious new warning. These side effects can be disabling, and potentially permanent. Potential adverse effects include:

  • Tendon pain
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle pain
  • “Pins and needles” or a tingling or pricking sensation
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations

What are the new FDA recommendations?

The FDA is advising that the use of these antibiotics be restricted, and recommending using an alternative medication if possible.

What are some examples of quinolone antibiotics?

The warning affects systemic forms of quinolone antibiotics (that you take by mouth, or that are injected). It does not apply to topical forms at this time. Some examples of systemic quinolone antibiotics include:

Is this the first safety communication for quinolone antibiotics?

No. The FDA has issued two previous safety communications in August 2013 and July 2008.

What should I do if I experience any of the side effects listed?

If you experience any of the side effects mentioned above while taking a quinolone antibiotic, contact your health care provider immediately.

Lifted Restrictions Mean More Diabetics Can Use Metformin!

by Dr. Sharon Orrange on May 24, 2016 at 12:27 pm

Metformin (Glucophage) is first line therapy for diabetes which carries the benefit of helping with weight loss. It’s cheap, does not result in risky low blood sugars (hypoglycemia), has a cheap generic—oh AND it may help you live longer. In a previous blog I told you about the exciting early evidence that metformin may help prevent aging.

Well, a recent loosening of restrictions from the FDA means that 40% or 50% of patients with type 2 diabetes who have mild-moderate chronic kidney disease (CKD) will now be eligible to take metformin.

So, should we all be taking metformin? We aren’t there yet; let’s wait on more aging studies in adults to come out. But in the meantime, which annoying restrictions have been lifted on metformin?

  • Labeling of metformin and metformin-containing drugs (Janumet, Metaglip, Glucovance) will be changed to show that they are safe to use for people with mild to moderate renal (kidney) impairment. This is great because many diabetics have kidney disease and this opens up metformin use for you.
  • Instead of your doctor measuring just a creatinine blood test for your kidney function, your doctor can do tests to estimate your GFR (glomerular filtration rate) which takes into account your age, gender, race and/or weight. Just so you know, this is easily done with a GFR calculator where you enter blood creatinine (Cr) and other factors and get the GFR number back.
  • Now, before starting metformin, your doctor will estimate your GFR instead of your creatinine. The restrictions now: If you have a GFR lower than 30 mL/min, which is severe kidney disease (stage 4 or higher), you should still not use metformin. It’s also not recommended that you start metformin if you have stage 3 chronic kidney disease (GFR 30-45).
  • Your doctor should do a GFR check once a year if you are taking metformin.
  • One other change: before, everyone taking metformin had to stop taking it prior to imaging studies like a CT scan. Now, it’s only recommended you stop taking metformin before certain imaging procedures if your GFR is between 30 and 60 mL/min—or if you have a history of liver disease, alcoholism, or heart failure. If you do need to stop taking it for a CT scan or other imaging, you can restart 48 hours after the procedure as long as your kidney function is stable.

Dr O.

Brintellix Changing Names to Trintellix for Safety

by The GoodRx Pharmacist on May 19, 2016 at 1:56 pm

There are many medications on the market that have very similar names, which can sometimes be confusing for you, your pharmacist, and your doctor.

One example is Brintellix (an anti-depressant) and Brilinta (a blood thinner). Especially since they treat such different conditions, confusing these two prescriptions can cause big problems—and could even be life-threatening.

To lower the risk of mixing these two up, and to decrease prescribing and dispensing mistakes, the FDA just approved a name change for Brintellix. If you’re currently taking Brintellix, here’s what you need to know:

What is the new brand name for Brintellix?
Brintellix will now be known as Trintellix.

When will Trintellix be available?
Trintellix is expected to replace Brintellix in pharmacies by June 2016.

Will I still be able to get my medication during the name change transition?

Yes. During the transition your doctor can still prescribe Brintellix for you, and your pharmacy will still have it in stock.

Is anything other than the name changing?

No. Trintellix will be the same exact medication and continue to look exactly the same.

What sparked the name change?

The FDA issued a safety warning in July 2015 on confusion between Brintellix and Brilinta. Since Brintellix was approved in September of 2013 there have been both prescribing and dispensing errors due to mix-ups with Brilinta.

Are there any other recent examples of a medication name change of this caliber?

Yes. Believe it or not, the same manufacturer of Brintellix had this happen in 2010 with their drug formerly known as Kapidex.

Kapidex, used for heartburn, was being confused with Casodex, a medication used for advanced prostate cancer, and with Kadian, a powerful pain medication.

Since mixing up medications confusion can be potentially life-threatening, manufacturer Takeda, with the help of the FDA approved the name change from Kapidex to what we know today as Dexilant.

For more information on the Kapidex name change to Dexilant check out the FDA news release from 2010.

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