The GoodRx Prescription Savings Blog

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

7 Tips for Using Eye Drops

by The GoodRx Pharmacist on August 16, 2017 at 7:56 am

If you’ve ever had prescription eye drops, you know that those tiny bottles can cost a pretty penny, and can be challenging to apply in the eyes. Eye drops can be used for many reasons like allergies, infections, inflammation, dryness or vision disorders.

Here are seven tips to help you get the very last squeeze out of your eye drops.

Don’t waste your drops.

Eye drops can be expensive, so it’s important to make sure you’re wasting as little as possible. If you have trouble applying eye drops, an eye drop guide may help. The AutoDrop Guide, the Magic Touch, and the Simply Touch are three popular guides that can help you easily apply your drops.

Make sure you know if your eye drops require any special instructions.

It’s important that eye drops are sterile when placing them into your eye. Therefore, it’s essential that you abide by any special instructions like:

  • Storage requirements. Some drops, like Xalatan (latanoprost), should be stored in the refrigerator if unopened. However, once the bottle has been opened you can store the bottle at room temperature for 6 weeks.
  • Expiration limitations. Some eye drops require that you throw it away after 14 days.
  • Special directions. Some eye drops need to be mixed or require that you wait a certain amount of time before applying another drop of a different medication. Make sure you read the special instructions before using your eye drops.

Ask your doctor for samples.

The old saying “ask and you shall receive” can apply to prescription eye drops. Some doctors may be able to supply you with a sample bottle of an expensive prescription eye drop, and all you have to do is ask! Many doctor’s offices have a closet full of sample medications from pharmaceutical reps they can give out to you free of charge.

Some eye drops are now available over the counter.

The beauty of OTC medications is the convenience and ability to select a medication for your specific symptoms. Although a visit to your doctor’s office is typically not required, it is always recommended to check with your doctor or pharmacist before beginning to peruse the OTC aisles.

Make sure your eye drops don’t interact with anything else.

Regardless if you take a medication by mouth, apply it on your skin, inhale it into your lungs, or drop it into your eye it will still be absorbed into your blood stream and distributed throughout your body. Eye drops do have a more local effect meaning that they treat the problem you may be having in your eye; however, the medication can still get into your blood stream. This makes it important to disclose any other medications you may be taking to your doctor or pharmacist

Do the math.

Insurance companies won’t allow you to fill your medication if they think it’s too soon, based on the calculation the pharmacy provides them with. This means that it might be helpful to know the number of drops your bottle contains.

The most common conversion is 20 drops per 1 ml; however, some insurance companies may calculate it differently by using 15 drops per 1 ml or even lower at 12 drops per 1 ml. This means that a standard 1 ml bottle will contain 100 drops of medicine.

This calculation can give you an idea of how soon you can refill your medication.

Eye drops can be used in other places.

That’s right, eye drops are multi-purpose – they can be used in places other than just the eyes. Some eye drops are extremely versatile and can be used in places such as in the ears, on the tongue, or onto the nails.

Keep in mind that you shouldn’t use your eye drops in other places unless instructed by your doctor.

FDA Approves Vosevi For Hepatitis C

by The GoodRx Pharmacist on July 25, 2017 at 4:04 pm

Thanks to the FDA’s Priority Review program, hepatitis C medications are being approved at a faster rate! This program provides a fast-track review of medications that could that treat serious conditions like hepatitis C. New approvals over the past few years include Sovaldi, HarvoniViekira Pak, and we have another one to add to the list!

On July 18th, 2017, the FDA approved Vosevi, a new three drug combination medication for Hepatitis C. Vosevi is the first and only hepatitis C treatment specifically for patients who have tried advanced treatment and haven’t been cured.

What is Vosevi prescribed for?
Vosevi is a combination medication indicated for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C in adults, and is a second line treatment for all 6 types of hepatitis C genotypes.

It will be available as a combination tablet in the strength of 400 mg/100 mg/100 mg. The recommended dose is one tablet, every day with food, for twelve weeks.

What are the most common side effects associated with Vosevi?

Common side effects include headache, fatigue, diarrhea, and nausea. Be sure to speak with your doctor if you experience any of these side effects for a prolonged period of time.

Will Vosevi be a specialty medication?
Not sure. At this time there is no information stating that Vosevi will be considered a specialty medication; however, with all of the other Hepatitis C medications being specialty medications Vosevi will likely follow suit.
How much will Vosevi cost?

Gilead, the manufacturer, has not mentioned how much Vosevi will cost.

Epclusa, another hepatitis C medication manufactured by Gilead, is priced at $74,760 for a 12-week regimen. The cost of other 12-week hepatitis C medication regimens currently on the market such as Sovaldi and Harvoni cost $84,000 and $94,500 respectively. Therefore, it is expected that Vosevi will be priced right in line with the cost of these other treatments.  

Gilead does offer a copay assistance program where eligible patients can pay as little as $5 per co-pay for Vosevi. To find out if you qualify, call 1-855-769-7284 to speak with a Vosevi Support Path specialist.

For more information on Vosevi, see the press announcement here, or check out Vosevi’s website here.

Gabapentin Now a Controlled Substance in Kentucky

by The GoodRx Pharmacist on July 13, 2017 at 3:40 pm

The number of prescriptions written for gabapentin (Neurontin), a common medication for nerve pain, is at an all-time high, with 57 million prescriptions dispensed in 2015.

Gabapentin is not considered an addictive drug, although it does have characteristics that offer the potential for abuse. Some individuals describe varying experiences with gabapentin abuse, including euphoria, improved sociability, a marijuana-like high, a sense of calm, as well as ‘zombie-like’ effects.

Because of this potential for abuse, Kentucky has become the 1st state to make gabapentin products schedule 5 controlled substances.

What is Gabapentin prescribed for?

Gabapentin is most notably indicated for neuropathy, also known as nerve pain, caused by a physical injury, alcoholism or certain diseases like diabetes, cancer, or HIV.

Many patients with diabetes will often be prescribed gabapentin products. Diabetic neuropathy is common and is a result of high levels of sugar in the blood that damages the nerves over time. Most diabetics experience nerve pain in the feet and legs that feel like a burning, tingling or numb sensation.

In addition to nerve pain, gabapentin can also be prescribed for restless leg syndrome, shingles, and seizures.

What is a schedule 5 controlled substance?

According to the Diversion Control Division of the DEA, schedule 5 substances contain limited quantities of narcotics and have a low potential for abuse relative to schedule 4 substances.

Schedule 5 controlled substance include Robitussin AC (guaifenesin/codeine), Phenergan With Codeine (promethazine/codeine), Lomotil (diphenoxylate/atropine), Potiga (exogabine), Vimpat (lacosamide), and Lyrica (pregabilin).

Will this happen to other states?

Many healthcare professionals already recognize the dangers of gabapentin abuse. So it is only a matter of time before other states follow in Kentucky’s footsteps.

Many states have already started to keep track of gabapentin products being prescribed and distributed through their prescription drug monitoring programs. In fact, since December 2016, Ohio has been requiring pharmacies, wholesalers, and prescribers to report their dispensing. This is happening in many other states – Minnesota, Virginia, Illinois, Wyoming, and Massachusetts also have rescription-monitoring programs.

I live in Kentucky, what does this mean for me?

If you live in Kentucky, gabapentin’s schedule change may affect you in the following ways:

  • Physician assistants (PA) in Kentucky no longer have the authority to prescribe any controlled substances. If your gabapentin prescription is from a PA, it will no longer be valid.
  • Existing gabapentin prescriptions will expire after 5 refills, or 6 months, from the date the prescription was issued. This means that you will need to plan ahead as a sudden break from gabapentin can cause seizures. 
  • You will need to get your gabapentin prescription from a practitioner with a DEA registration.
  • You will be unable to transfer any gabapentin prescriptions to other pharmacies that were written before January 1st, 2017.
  • You will no longer be able to receive gabapentin samples.

Has this happened to any other medications recently?

Yes. In 2014, a ruling was finalized to move hydrocodone-containing products from a schedule 3 to a schedule 2 controlled substance, thereby eliminating the ability to refill these medications.

FDA Approves Parsabiv for Secondary Hyperparathyroidism

by The GoodRx Pharmacist on June 28, 2017 at 3:31 pm

In February, manufacturer Amgen announced that the FDA approved Parsabiv (etelcalcetide) for secondary hyperparathyroidism in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) on hemodialysis.

Secondary hyperparathyroidism is a condition that lowers calcium levels, causing your parathyroid glands to overproduce the parathyroid hormone. This can cause cardiovascular, neurological and immune system complications. Secondary hyperparathyroidism is especially seen in patients with CKD, but can also be caused by severe vitamin D or calcium deficiency.

What is chronic kidney disease (CKD)?

Chronic kidney disease is a condition characterized by the gradual loss of kidney function over time. It can be caused by diabetes, high blood pressure, inflammation of the kidneys, kidney infections, or urine backup into the kidneys.

How is Parsabiv to be used?

The recommended dose of Parsabiv is 5 mg, by intravenous bolus injection three times a week. Injections should be done at the end of hemodialysis, a treatment that filters waste and removes extra fluid in the kidneys.

Parsabiv will be available as an injection in the strengths of 2.5 mg/0.5 ml, 5 mg/1 ml, and 10 mg/2 ml. Your doctor will determine your specific dose of Parsabiv.

Parsabiv is the first treatment approved in 12 years for secondary hyperparathyroidism. It is also the only medication that mimics calcium and can be given intravenously. Parsabiv was also approved by the European Commission in November of 2016.

What side are effects associated with Parsabiv?

The most common side effects include diarrhea and nausea.

How can I save on Parsabiv?

Manufacturer Amgen has two programs to help patients afford Parsabiv. For commercially insured patients, the Parsabiv Co-Pay card can help you reduce your copay to as little as $5. For more information, see Parsabiv’s website here, or call 1-888-762-6436.

Eligible uninsured patients can receive Parsabiv free for up to one year with Amgen’s Safety Net Foundation Patient Assistance program. For more information visit the Safety Net Foundation’s website here, or call 1-888-762-6436.

You can also learn more about Parsabiv in the press announcement here.

Make Sure You Check These 5 Things on Every New Prescription

by The GoodRx Pharmacist on June 23, 2017 at 2:15 pm

Although there are many ways your doctor can get your prescription to the pharmacy (phone in, fax, electronically, etc.), many doctors will still write out a paper prescription. If your doctor hands you a prescription, there are a few important things you should know and/or look for.

1. Is your name correct?

Believe it or not, there are times where patients bring a prescription to the pharmacy with an incorrect first or last name. If this happens to you, the pharmacist will have to call your doctor to ensure that you have the correct prescription, despite the wrong name.

You can prevent this clerical error by always double checking any paper prescription that has been handed to you. This quick check can save you time at the pharmacy!

2. Is it for a pharmacy?

Although most prescriptions are meant for the pharmacy, there are several occasions where I have received a prescription for things other than a medication. Some things your doctor may prescribe to you, that isn’t a medication, include:

  • Prescriptions for blood work, labs, or scans.
  • Prescriptions with instructions for how to care for your condition.
  • Notes for certain over-the-counter medications you might need.
  • Certain medical devices that need to be obtained from a medical supply store. This can include things like canes, walkers, nebulizers or compression stockings.

3. Is it the medication you were expecting?

It’s unfortunate, but many patients I have spoken to at the pharmacy don’t know what their medication is being used for, let alone what is actually being prescribed. It is important to find out what is being prescribed, and what the medication is treating before leaving the doctor’s office. Informed patients are equipped with the knowledge necessary to make important decisions about their own health!

4. Did your doctor sign the prescription?

This is a big one! Pharmacies will not accept a prescription that is not signed by your doctor. A quick glance at your prescription to make sure that your doctor has signed the prescription can save you time at the pharmacy!

5. Is anything missing?

No one expects you, as the patient, to understand or decipher what your doctor wrote on your prescription. However, taking a quick glance could save you time in the long run.

There are a few minor details, if not filled out properly, that could delay you from receiving your prescription. Specifically, be sure that your prescription contains the date, doctor prescribing credentials, quantity, directions, and strength.

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