It’s Valentine’s Day, the day of romance, which means an abundance of chocolates, flowers, and…Viagra?
We were wondering whether prescriptions for erectile dysfunction (ED) drugs like Viagra and Cialis take a leap before Valentine’s Day, and since we happen to have a little extra time, we ran the numbers. It turns out we were right: Valentine’s is a popular time to pop a Viagra.
But it turns out it’s not the most popular time.
Here are the most (and least) romantic times of the year, based on a representative sample of erectile dysfunction prescription claims across the U.S.
1. New Year’s Eve (52% higher than annual average)
The largest amount of ED drug fills are in the days leading up to New Year’s Eve – with fully 52% more prescriptions than the annual average fill rate. Our scientific hypothesis: people are planning for their New Year’s kiss.
2. 4th of July (50% higher than annual average)
Apparently, the week before Independence Day is an exciting time of the year, as well. The long weekend brings BBQs, parades, and plenty of fireworks. Ahem.
3. March 4th (46% higher than annual average)
A weird one, but this day has seen an especially high amount of prescription fills for erectile dysfunction drugs for the past two years. Maybe people are actually ‘marching forth?’
4. April Fools Day (44% higher than annual average)
We have no idea what’s going on here, but April 1st has been a very popular day for ED fills for the past two years. Interestingly, ED prescription fills are very low for the rest of April. We’re not sure why.
5. Valentine’s Day (40% higher than annual average)
The week before the supposed “most romantic day of the year” comes in at fifth in terms of prescription fills for ED medications, exceeding the annual fill rate by 40%. Perhaps it’s so romantic that people don’t need help?
And the least romantic time of year?
Christmas Day (9x lower than national average)
While the days leading up to Christmas see more ED fills, only a handful of people are filling on Christmas Day. It makes sense though – too much food and family (and few people are going to the pharmacy). Is mommy kissing Santa Claus?
And the most popular day of the week?
This one was no surprise. The most popular day to fill a prescription for Viagra or Cialis is… Friday. This makes sense; after all, Viagra has been dubbed ‘the weekend pill.’ And by Sunday or Monday, very few people are filling their ED prescription.
In what appears to be the worst flu epidemic in years, prescriptions for Tamiflu (oseltamivir) are soaring – outpacing last year’s prescriptions by a factor of 10 or even 14 times higher this year in some states, with a nationwide rate that is more than 5 times higher than last year.
According to a GoodRx analysis of a nationally representative sample of US prescriptions, pharmacy fills for Tamiflu, the most popular medication to treat the flu, are increasing, with some notable geographic variations. In Arizona, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Michigan, prescriptions are up over 10-fold from last year, and other parts of the south and midwest are likewise seeing an exceptionally high prescription volume.
Though there is a vaccine available for the flu, Tamiflu is often prescribed if symptoms start to appear, which helps explain the rapid surge in prescriptions this year. If taken within the first 28 hours of getting the flu, Tamiflu can work to block the actions of influenza in your body, and shorten the duration of the virus. You can also take Tamiflu for up to six weeks to prevent you from getting the flu.
Despite the surge of prescriptions, there are some doubts about whether Tamiflu is even effective for treatment or prevention – more on that below.
The national pattern closely resembles data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which shows these same states are some of the hardest hit by flu so far this year.
According to CDC data, cases of the flu reached high levels in southern states like Texas and Louisiana in the days before Christmas and then spread through the Midwest and the entire United States.
At the present moment, all states except for Maine, Montana, Idaho, Utah, North Dakota, Hawaii, Alaska, and the District of Columbia are seeing high rates of flu activity. Flu activity has been consistently high over the past 9 weeks and doesn’t seem to be letting up anytime soon. Flu season can last anywhere between 16 and 20 weeks, so experts predict there is still more to come.
To see an interactive view of the flu around this country this year, visit The CDC FluView Map here.
On a national basis, prescriptions for Tamiflu are up more than 5 times last year’s rate. This is a stunning illustration of how bad the flu is – and how much worse it may still get.
A shortage in Tamiflu
The high volume of Tamiflu prescriptions at this point in the season has resulted in a shortage of the medication. While the FDA has not yet confirmed this shortage, doctors and pharmacists in both urban and rural areas are reporting difficulty in accessing Tamiflu for their patients.
Those unable to access Tamiflu this year do have other options. Besides Tamiflu, there are two other influenza medications: Relenza and Rapivab. Both are considered just as effective as Tamiflu and may be easier to access this year. For more information on these medications, see our post here.
Over the counter medications can also help ease symptoms. Read here for more details on over the counter flu medications.
Is it effective?
Tamiflu is sometimes treated as a cure for all cases of the flu, but recent studies call this reputation into question. According to a study-of-studies, or meta-analysis, performed by Cochrane Research of 46 studies involving more than 24,000 people, Tamiflu may provide a much smaller benefit than expected. At best, the analysis found that Tamiflu may only help patients recover one day faster, and may not reduce the number of flu-related complications, like pneumonia. Additionally, it may only reduce the risk of getting sick by 55%. At over $50 per prescription for generic oseltamivir, for some, the benefits may not outweigh the cost.
While these findings don’t negate the use of Tamiflu, they may indicate that it is less protective than we had previously thought.
Tamiflu side effects
There has been recent concern about Tamiflu’s side effects, especially in younger children. Recently, a 6-year-old girl reportedly attempted to jump out of her bedroom window during a hallucination while taking Tamiflu. The FDA has warned of similar side effects previously, noting that:
“Children and teenagers with the flu may be at a higher risk for seizures, confusion, or abnormal behavior early during their illness. These serious side effects may happen shortly after beginning Tamiflu of may happen in people when the flu is not treated. These serious side effects are not common but may result in accidental injury to the patient. People who take Tamiflu should be watched for sins of unusual behavior and a healthcare provider should be contacted right away if the patient shows any unusual behavior while taking Tamiflu.”
More common side effects include nausea, vomiting, headache, and pain. Be sure to speak with your doctor if you or a loved one experience any of these side effects for a prolonged period of time.
Why is the flu so bad this year?
This year’s flu is different from past years. The reason? Around 80% of flu cases this year involved H3N2, a strain of the influenza A virus that is more dangerous and results in more complications. H3N2 is generally also harder to prevent with the flu vaccine, and this seems to be true this year. Experts say that this year’s flu vaccine may be only 10% effective.
How can you protect yourself?
- You can still get your flu vaccine. Even though the flu shot may only 10% effective against this year’s flu, you may still want to consider getting it. Even if you get sick, a flu vaccine can also help ease the severity and duration of the virus.
- Visit your doctor immediately. When true flu symptoms hit, go to the doctor. The sooner you visit, the sooner you can get your prescription for an antiviral medication.
- Wash your hands. This may go without saying, but washing your hands is your best weapon against the flu virus.
- Exercising may help. While heavy exercise may predispose you to the flu, a moderate amount may be protective.
Methodology: Data represents a change in prescriptions for Tamiflu (and generic versions of Oseltamivir) from this season (Dec. 1, 2017, through Feb 11, 2018) compared to last season (Dec. 1, 2016, through Feb 11, 2017). Prescription volume based on a statistically significant sample of fills at US pharmacies. Data comes from several sources, including pharmacies and insurers, and provides a representative sample of nationwide US prescription drug volume.
Between the supplies, the physician visits, and the prescription medications, treating diabetes can be expensive. In fact, the average patient spends an average of $7,900 per year to treat their diabetes. Doctors consistently report that the high costs for diabetes medications can result in low levels of adherence, so it is important for patients to find ways to save.
For many people, Januvia (sitagliptin) is unaffordable. The average retail price for a 30-day supply is around $500. Some similar (but not exactly the same) drugs are available as inexpensive generics, but Januvia isn’t expected to have a generic for some time.
Here’s all you need to know about Januvia, and how to keep your costs down.
When will generic Januvia be available?
Unfortunately, not soon. While some patents for Januvia expired in April 2017, the patents for the basic component of Januvia don’t expire until 2022. So, prepare to wait at least another four more years.
How popular is Januvia?
Januvia is the most popular gliptin diabetes medication, a class that includes Tradjenta and Onglyza. Since its approval from Merck in 2006, Januvia has been a commercial success, generating $5.9 billion in sales last year including its counterpart Janumet (a combination drug consisting of Januvia and metformin).
Is Januvia worth it?
While Januvia may be more expensive for you, some doctors prefer Januvia over more affordable options for diabetes like glyburide and glipizide. Why? Patients who take Januvia don’t have to deal with the risk of low blood sugar and weight gain that is a common symptom of other diabetes medications. This is a benefit for many patients, but there is a downside: the cost.
Many insurance plans don’t cover Januvia because there are somewhat similar generic alternatives, leaving many patients on the hook for that $500 monthly payment. And for many people paying $500 out-of-pocket every month is not sustainable. More on how to save below.
Are there any safety warnings for Januvia?
In 2015 the FDA released a safety warning for all gliptin diabetes medications. Januvia and other gliptins have been reported to cause severe and disabling joint pain in some patients. According to the FDA, discontinuing the medication resolved the symptoms, but the joint pain did return if the same medication, or another gliptin, was restarted.
If you take Januvia, or another gliptin, and start to experience any joint pain, contact your doctor. However, do not discontinue the use of your gliptin unless directed by your doctor.
Are there any other alternatives?
Drugs in the sulfonylureas class, like Glucotrol (glipizide), glyburide, and Amaryl (glimepiride) work to help your body stimulate more insulin, and are commonly used for the treatment of diabetes. All of these come in pill form, just like Janumet, so you don’t have to worry about using an injectable. However, just like we mentioned above, drugs in this class can cause low blood sugar, requiring you to check your sugar levels at least 2 to 5 times a week. Additionally, sulfonylureas can also cause weight gain. The upside? They are much more affordable because many of these medications have generic alternatives. Expect to pay around $20 for a 30-day supply.
Glucophage (metformin) is another possible alternative, and it is likewise affordable; cash prices for metformin average to around $27 per month, and many can even get your prescription for free by shopping around on GoodRx. Metformin is the first choice medicine to control your blood sugar, as it can lower your A1C levels by as much as 2%. However, metformin may not be for everyone – your doctor can help you decide if it’s right for you.
Are you taking Januvia and metformin? It might be worth talking to your doctor about Janumet – a combination drug consisting of Januvia and metformin. While still not affordable, as cash prices average out to $515 for a 30-day supply, it’s better than paying for both Januvia and metformin.
Remember to discuss any of these options with your doctor, as you will need a new prescription if you decide to switch from Januvia.
How can I save?
- Use a GoodRx Coupon. GoodRx offers discounts for Januvia online. While this may not make it affordable for everyone, a coupon can still knock at least 15% off the full retail price. Any little bit counts.
- Manufacturer coupon. Januvia’s manufacturer, Merck, offers a program to help reduce your out-of-pocket costs to as little as $5 per month. This manufacturer program is only for commercially insured patients, so be sure to check the program website here to ensure that you are eligible.
- Patient assistance program. Manufacturer Merck also offers a savings program for uninsured eligible patients. The program, Merck Helps, can help you receive your medication at no cost. Most people without insurance and limited incomes will qualify. See program restrictions here for more information about eligibility, and how to apply.
- Split a higher dosage pill. This can help you decrease costs, especially since all strengths of Januvia are priced similarly. You’ll want to ask your doctor to make sure this is safe and a good option for you.
At GoodRx, we’re always trying to find new ways to get you the greatest savings and lowest prices on your prescriptions. Today we’re proud to say we have new low prices on some popular drugs at CVS.
Our already discounted prices have dropped even further – an average of 47% since January on a select list of drugs. If you fill your prescriptions elsewhere and there’s a CVS nearby, you may want to take another look. When visiting CVS, be sure to bring a new GoodRx coupon to get the best price.
We’re excited to announce even deeper discounts on the following drugs:
|Drug||Percent savings||What is it for?|
|azithromycin||57% lower||Bacterial infections|
|cyanocobalamin||64% lower||Vitamin B12 deficiency|
|cyclobenzaprine||53% lower||Muscle pain|
|escitalopram||66% lower||Depression & anxiety|
|fluoxetine||30% lower||Depression & anxiety|
|fluticasone||57% lower||Skin infections|
|furosemide||30% lower||High blood pressure & edema|
|latanoprost||50% lower||Glaucoma & eye pressure|
|microgestin||38% lower||Birth control|
|phenazopyridine||48% lower||Urinary tract infections|
|ranitidine||58% lower||Heartburn & GERD|
|tamsulosin||59% lower||Benign prostatic hyperplasia|
|tri-previfem||50% lower||Birth control|
Disclaimer: GoodRx prices are subject to change. So we always recommend checking GoodRx every time you fill to see the latest coupons and discounts.
This year’s flu season is in full swing, and it’s bad. High flu activity has been reported in all states except for Hawaii and flu season is only halfway over. Prescriptions for Tamiflu (oseltamivir) are 6 times higher nationwide than a year ago, with reported shortages in some cities, according to the FDA.
Between missed work, doctors visits, and medical costs, the flu can get expensive. Tamiflu is the most commonly prescribed treatment for the flu, but it’s not cheap. Brand versions of Tamiflu can cost more than $160 for a 10-dose pack, and even the generic, oseltamivir, can often cost well over $50.
Surprisingly, despite the surge in demand this year, the average price for Tamiflu has remained steady, actually dropping by about 2% since last year’s flu season.
What are some other options?
The flu might be bad this year, but it doesn’t have to affect your wallet. Here are some ways to save money, and stay healthy, throughout cold and flu season.
Relenza is sold as an oral inhaler and has been shown in studies to reduce the duration of symptoms by around 1.3 days. Just like Tamiflu, it appears there is no benefit to taking Relenza if you have been sick for 30 hours or more. Keep in mind that since it is an oral inhaler, Relenza cannot be used in patients with asthma or other chronic respiratory conditions. The lowest GoodRx price for the most common version of Relenza is around $63.95, 18% off the average retail price of $78.44.
Rapivab was approved in 2014 and is the first influenza medication to be administered intravenously. Since it is administered through an IV, Rapivab can target the flu virus and can alleviate your symptoms within 21 hours. The downside to Rapivab? It’s really expensive. Three vials can cost around $1000.
Other than cost, there doesn’t appear to be a difference in efficacy between the three, even though Tamiflu is most widely prescribed. Unsure which one to talk about with your doctor? Look at delivery method and cost at your pharmacy, especially if you have insurance, to help you make your decision.
Is Tamiflu worth it?
Flu medications like Tamiflu, Relenza, and Rapivab may not be your only options to treat the flu, though. Recent data has suggested that maybe Tamiflu isn’t as helpful as we once thought. A recent report found that Tamiflu may only help you recover one day faster, and may only reduce your risk of contracting the flu by 55% – lower than doctors previously thought. At over $50 per prescription for generic oseltamivir, for some, the benefits may not outweigh the cost.
What does this mean? Don’t forget about the more affordable over the counter (OTC) medications available at your local pharmacy. While OTC flu medications like Advil or DayQuil may not be able to treat the virus, they can help relieve the symptoms. For more information about available over the counter flu medications, see our blog here.
If you’re looking to treat the symptoms of your flu, without visiting your doctor or taking Tamiflu, our friends at Iodine have a tool to help. Iodine’s cold and flu tool compares flu medications to help you decide the best treatment for your symptoms.
Having trouble finding Tamiflu?
At the moment, Tamiflu is not facing an official shortage – there is actually a robust supply nationally. However, prescriptions can experience ‘spot shortages’ in cities, especially when a prescription is in high demand. Some residents in metropolitan cities like Chicago and Los Angeles are experiencing these spot shortages and are having trouble accessing Tamiflu.
If you’re having trouble finding Tamiflu or its generic, there are a couple of things you can try. First off, call before you go to the pharmacy. You can use GoodRx’s Pharmacy Near Me tool to locate and contact the pharmacies that are closest to you. You can also talk to your doctor about one of the other flu medications – Relenza or Rapivab – as pharmacies might have more of those in stock. And lastly, If you’re in a pinch, you can always try the over-the-counter route to treat your symptoms.
Here’s how to save
- Use a GoodRx Coupon. GoodRx offers discounts for Tamiflu and oseltamivir online. A discount can save you an average of 59% – every little bit helps! GoodRx has also worked to find lower prices for brand name Tamiflu. You should see these new low prices on our site next week – we will keep you updated!
- Take the generic. Like we mentioned above, Tamiflu does have a generic – oseltamivir. While it may still cost over $50, it’s about $100 more affordable than brand name Tamiflu
- Prevent the cold. Of course, this is easier said than done, but warding off the cold is the best way to save. Try to avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth throughout the day, and keep your hands clean! Another thing to try? Get the flu vaccine – it’s not too late.