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

Meet Yuvafem, the New Generic to Vagifem Tablets

by Dr. Sharon Orrange on October 27, 2016 at 3:01 pm

Used for the treatment of vaginal dryness and recurrent urinary tract infections, among other things, Vagifem (estradiol) tablets have been a huge hit in the United States. As mentioned in my previous blog, patients prefer Vagifem tablets over Estrace vaginal cream—but one of the downsides of Vagifem has been cost. Yuvafem, a new generic equivalent just approved by the FDA, may finally give Vagifem competition—if it can save women some cash.

What’s Yuvafem?

  • Made by Amneal Pharmaceuticals, Yuvafem 10 mcg estradiol vaginal inserts are shipping to pharmacies this month.
  • Like Vagifem, Yuvafem tablets are used for the treatment for menopausal symptoms.
  • This is the first generic equivalent to Vagifem.
  • Yuvafem delivers the same low dose of vaginal estrogen as Vagifem in a preloaded, single-use, disposable applicator.
  • Yuvafem will come in packages of 8 or 18 tablets. It is used daily for the first two weeks, then twice weekly.
  • Like Vagifem, Yuvafem estradiol vaginal tablets are used for vaginal dryness, irritation, itching and soreness, as well as pain during intercourse and recurrent urinary tract infections.

Will Yuvafem be cheaper than Vagifem?

I hope so, but we don’t know yet. Vagifem made a startling $423 million dollars in the U.S. from July 2015 to July 2016 so it’s good to have a potentially cheaper equivalent.

Dr O.


Watch Out EpiPen, Auvi-Q Will Return to Markets in 2017

by Tori Marsh on October 26, 2016 at 3:53 pm

Amidst the recent drama surrounding EpiPen prices, we finally have some good news for epinephrine auto-injectors. The expensive Epipen, and EpiPen Jr, will soon have more competition!

In 2017, manufacturer Kaleo will be re-releasing Auvi-Q, their brand of the epinephrine auto-injector. Auvi-Q was pulled from the market last year, but Kaleo has bought back the rights, and plans to release the alternative auto-injector within the next year.

Why was Auvi-Q removed from the market?

Last year, Sanofi, one of the manufacturers of Auvi-Q, pulled the injectable off the market after reports that it delivered an inadequate amount of epinephrine when administered. However, the agreement between Sanofi and Kaleo has ended, allowing Kaleo to return Auvi-Q to the market.

Recently, Kaleo has worked to ensure that Auvi-Q will be more reliable. They have received approval from the FDA, and have revamped the manufacturing process, making it an “intelligent, high-tech, 100-percent robotic production line.”

Will Auvi-Q be similar to the EpiPen?

Yes! Both the EpiPen and Auvi-Q will be used to counteract anaphylaxis through an intramuscular injection to the thigh.

There are a couple of differences, though. First off, around the size of a credit card, the Auvi-Q is smaller than the EpiPen. More importantly though, the Auvi-Q has a voice-prompt system that can guide patients through the epinephrine delivery process. So, even if you have never used an auto-injector, Auvi-Q can step you through administering it properly!

When will it be available?

According to the manufacturers, Auvi-Q could be back on the market as soon as early 2017.

Is this good news for my pocketbook?

Ideally, yes! Some are hopeful that adding competition to the epinephrine auto-injector market will drive prices down. Mylan, EpiPen’s manufacturer, has controlled around 95% of the U.S. epinephrine auto-injector market, allowing them to significantly raise prices. Adding competition to this market should help auto-injector costs stabilize.

Although Kaleo hasn’t discussed the exact retail price, they have alluded to a low out-of-pocket cost for Auvi-Q. In a recent press release, manufacturers discussed that they “are working with various stakeholders…to ensure that all patients regardless of insurance coverage, have affordable access to Auvi-Q.” You can read more of this press-release here.

Where can I get more information?

To learn more about Auvi-Q, visit their website here.

-Tori

Tori Marsh is GoodRx’s junior medical editor and consumer savings expert.


What Is Proposition 61?

by The GoodRx Pharmacist on October 25, 2016 at 1:28 pm

The increased cost of prescription drugs has been all over the news—and a topic for debate in the 2016 elections.

Huge price hikes for medications like EpiPen, Thiola, and Daraprim, just to name a few, have left Americans frustrated and angry. Amid the controversy, some states (including California and Ohio) are trying to address drug pricing on the ballot this fall—a bold move that other states will likely follow.

What would the Drug Price Relief Act do?

The Drug Price Relief Act (Proposition 61 in California) would cap the price any state agency or health care program could spend on prescription drugs. The cap would be set at the price paid by the US Department of Veteran Affairs—which usually receives the biggest discount.

That would mean that the cost of medications would mimic the low prices of the VA system, pricing drugs 20-24% lower than any other current government program.

What drugs are covered in the VA system?

The VA drug formulary (the drugs covered by the program) is extremely limited, which helps to reduce costs. Fewer drugs are covered, but prices are significantly better for those drugs.

What is the opposition saying?

Those who oppose the drug relief act think that this proposition could drive drug prices even higher. The fear is that drug companies will raise prices overall in order to continue profiting (or simply not sell their drugs to the VA), which could have a wider negative impact.

What are supporters saying?

Those in favor of the drug relief act believe that California’s proposition will fight the price-gouging we are seeing from pharmaceutical companies and provide better access to life-saving medications.

Who is in support of the drug price relief act?

Some of the biggest supporters of the drug price relief act include Bernie Sanders and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation but there are many others.

Will Ohio have it on the ballot this November?

No. Ohio will not be voting on a drug relief act this year. If all goes well, it might appear on next year’s ballot.

Will California have it on the ballot this November?

Yes. California will be voting on Proposition 61, the Drug Price Standards Initiative, as an initiated state statute. This means that if Proposition 61 passes it will become a new law.


Recall: Persantine and Dipyridamole for Blood Clots

by The GoodRx Pharmacist on October 24, 2016 at 5:15 pm

Manufacturer Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals has issued a voluntary recall of Persantine and dipyridamole, used in the prevention of post-surgical blood clots.

Who can recall a drug?

A manufacturer can voluntarily recall their medication, or the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) can request or require that a manufacturer recall a particular medication. In this case, the manufacturer has recalled one lot of Persantine and one lot of dipyridamole.

This is a class II recall, the most common type of recall, which means that there is a situation where the use of the recalled medication may caused temporary or medically reversible adverse health consequences, but the likelihood of serious adverse effects is small. For more information on the different types of recalls, see our overview here.

Why were Persantine and dipyridamole recalled?

The recall was initiated because of a tablet strength mix-up reported by 2 pharmacies. The wrong strength of medication has been found in the following bottles:

  • Persantine 50 mg tablets were found in a Persantine 75 mg 100-count bottle.
  • Persantine 50 mg tablets were found in a dipyridamole 75 mg 100-count bottle.

Taking a dosage other than the one prescribed to you by your doctor can result in severe side effects, complications, hospitalizations, or even death.

When was the recall initiated? 

The affected lots of Persantine and dipyridamole were recalled by the manufacturer on October 12th, 2016.

Which products were affected?

In this recall, 2 products, 2 lots, and 2 manufacturers were affected:

  • Drugs:
    • Persantine tablets
    • Dipyridamole tablets
  •  Manufacturers:
    • Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals
    • Roxane Laboratories
  • National Drug Codes (NDCs):
    • 00054-0463-25
    • 00597-0019-01

Wait, is Persantine still being made?

Actually, no. About a year ago, Boehringer Ingelheim announced that it would be discontinuing both Persantine and its authorized generic, dipyridamole. However, the company expected there to be enough Persantine in pharmacies to last through through May 2016 and enough dipyridamole to last through August 2017. This is why some pharmacies still have them on their shelves.

Are patients who have taken this medication being notified?

No. This is a class II recall, which means that it isn’t necessary to notify you unless your doctor believes it may have an effect on your health.

Always inspect the medication inside of your prescription bottle. If you ever notice that your pills look different than your previous fill of the same medication and strength, ask your pharmacist. If you have concerns that your prescription may be affected, contact your doctor or your pharmacist.


Gardasil HPV Vaccine Now Requires Fewer Doses

by Tori Marsh on October 21, 2016 at 1:30 pm

Good news in the world of vaccines! It is now easier for preteens to get Gardasil, the cervical cancer vaccine that protects against human papillomavirus (HPV).

This Wednesday, the federal government, along with the CDC, updated its recommendation for the HPV vaccine. Now, preteens only need two doses of the HPV vaccine, rather than three. Additionally, the CDC has said that the vaccine works better if spaced six to twelve months apart. This means that the vaccine can easily be given at annual check-ups, and reduces the number of doctor visits needed to get vaccinated.

First off, what is human papillomavirus?

HPV is a strain of viruses that can cause skin warts, cervical cancer, anal cancer, and cancers of the penis, throat, and tonsils. HPV can affect both men and women, and 79 million americans are currently infected.

HPV is a sexually transmitted infection (STI), meaning that you can be infected by having sex with someone who has the virus. It often has no signs or symptoms, and it can be difficult to know if you have HPV.

More information on the human papillomavirus can be found here.

Who should get vaccinated?

Boys and girls ages 11-12 should get vaccinated. However, men up to age 21 and women up to age 26 can still receive the vaccine.

What is the vaccine?

Currently, there are three vaccines, approved by the FDA, to prevent HPV—Gardasil, Gardasil 9, and Cevarix. These vaccines produce antibodies that protect you from getting HPV. The majority of people receive Gardasil 9, as it prevents against more virus strains than the other two.

The good news is, the vaccine is even more effective than doctors previously believed. According to a recent study, cervical cancer, and pre-cancers have been reduced by 50% in the past 8 years.

What does this update mean?

It is very rare for vaccine regimens to be updated, and simplified, so this is exciting news.

In the past, when three doses were recommended, fewer boys and girls received the full vaccine regimen—so simplifying the dosage will hopefully increase the amount of people receiving the vaccine. Also, fewer doses means more money saved!

-Tori Marsh

Tori Marsh is GoodRx’s junior medical editor and consumer savings expert.


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