“Can I just stop my medication?” This question, frequently asked of primary care doctors, has a complicated answer. For starters, if you are taking a medication that is controlling an ongoing medical problem like high blood pressure, diabetes or high cholesterol, you should never stop it on your own—or your problem will return. Many patients do come clean though and report that they just plain stopped their meds. See More
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How do you save on prescriptions? It might be in the way you pay for a prescription, like using a discount instead of insurance when it’s cheaper than your copay. Or it might be in the choice of your medication, like choosing a generic over a brand-name drug. Generics often give patients a way to save, but according to a new study, we might not be using them enough.
In the study, researchers looked at Medicare Part D spending on 29 brand-name combination drugs in 2016 and found that if generics had been used instead, spending could have been reduced by about $925 million. See More
Opioids like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and morphine have long been considered some of the most helpful drugs for managing acute pain. However, rates of opioid abuse and overdose deaths have skyrocketed in recent years. And now it turns out that there’s another reason to avoid opioids: they may not be the most effective treatment for pain relief after all.
Do opioids work better than other pain relievers?
Not necessarily. See More
As with other forms of coverage restrictions, insurance plans use quantity limits to ensure patient safety and control healthcare costs. Quantity limits define how much of a drug you can fill during a specific time period, but they can be a hassle. Here’s how to navigate your plan’s policies, so you can still get the medications you need.
How do quantity limits work?
Generally speaking, plans will review clinical and FDA literature to decide how much of a drug they will cover in a certain time period. See More
An unexpected increase in weight can be concerning for anyone. But it’s an unfortunate side effect of many common medications. Insulin, blood pressure medications, antidepressants, and even migraine medications can all cause weight gain, and some may even worsen the health conditions they’re trying to treat.
Sudden weight gain is never a reason to stop your medication without seeing your doctor first. See More
After practicing medicine for 20 years, I’ve become adept at “clarifying” to life insurance companies why patients are taking certain medications. The same medications appear to trigger red flags for both long-term care and life insurance companies.
Their “concern” makes sense for some medications because they are used for serious chronic illnesses, but for others, the insurance companies are worried about your lifestyle. See More
More than one in ten visits to a primary care doctor is for fatigue. Fatigue is composed of three major components: generalized weakness (difficulty in initiating activities), easy fatigability (difficulty in completing activities), and mental fatigue (difficulty with concentration and memory). While certainly not the only answer, medications may cause fatigue. Here are some of the common culprits.
Beta-blockers wear many hats. See More
The FDA has issued a new required warning for all opioid pain medications. If you are taking an opioid, you should be aware of a few potential side effects, including reactions with other medications, and effects on hormone levels.
What are some examples of opioid medications?
Opioids are powerful prescription-only medications, used to manage manage pain when other treatments may not work. Some common opiods include:
- hydrocodone/acetaminophen (Vicodin, Norco, Lorcet)
- oxycodone/acetaminophen (Percocet, Endocet, Roxicet)
- oxycodone (Oxycontin, Roxicodone)
- fentanyl (Duragesic, Subsys)
Why exactly was the FDA safety alert issued?
The FDA identified some safety concerns for anyone using opioid pain medications:
- They can interact with many other medications
- They can cause problems with a person’s adrenal glands
- They can decrease sex hormone levels
What kind of medications can react with opioids?
Specifically, opioids may react with antidepressants and migraine medications. See More
Opioid pain medication is an emotional topic for everyone. Patients who struggle with chronic noncancer pain and need opioid medications feel they are portrayed as addicts when they ask for refills. Each week I see many patients using opioids for the appropriate reason, who have tried and failed with other medications and yet feel stigmatized by the use of medicine they need.
One in ten visits to a primary care doctor is for fatigue. While certainly not the only cause, your medications can be the culprit for making you sleepy. Here are the players you need to know about.
Beta blockers. These are medications used for high blood pressure, migraine prevention, control of heart rate in atrial fibrillation, and they improve mortality after heart attack. Ok, now for the downside. See More