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FDA Announces Zulresso, 1st Drug for Postpartum Depression

Breaking News: Zulresso announced as the first drug developed specifically for the treatment of postpartum depression. At the Thrifty Patient, we believe in Five Pillars of Health – financial, social, mental, spiritual, physical, and social. Postpartum depression touches upon all five and is a distressing multi-generational issue which effects so many new mothers.


Blood Testing for your Healthy Well Being

What is Postpartum Depression?

Postpartum depression is a serious and debilitating condition that impacts 1 in 7 women. That’s about 7.8 million pregnant women every year.

FDA announces Postpartum Depression Drug Zulresso

Postpartum depression symptoms include – feeling unusually depressed, tired, irritable, detached, or angry throughout the day. Experiencing, a sinking feeling or an anxiety that you “just can’t shake”. It can also impact a mother’s ability to bond with their baby. There’s also a feeling of shame often associated with postpartum depression. Many women feel that they shouldn’t be feeling depressed following pregnancy or the birth of their child(ren). For many this makes postpartum depression even harder to talk about. Click here for more signs and symptoms of postpartum depression.

The cause of postpartum depression is complex and not precisely known. What researchers and physicians do know is that it’s caused by a combination of physiological, hormonal, mental, and social stressors.

For a long time psychologists have known that both ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ events can stress our bodies. A questionnaire called the Social Readjustment Rating Scale was even developed by University of Washington School of Medicine researchers Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe that takes into account both positive and negative life events. While there are some questions about the scale (each individual is unique in how they react to live events) the point is an important one. Pregnancy, and all of the social, physical, and mental implications of it cause stress. For 1 in 7 women this stress may contribute to postpartum depression.


Current Postpartum Depression Treaments

Until now, doctors have treated postpartum depression just like other forms of depression – with antidepressants, psychotherapy, and emphasizing social support. In addition, there has been some promising research regarding the employment of exercise, diet, massage, and mindfulness. However, until now there haven’t been any medications developed specifically for the treatment of postpartum depression. In addition, treatment has traditionally been complicated by the fact that some antidepressants can be passed to the infant through breast milk, while others are simply ineffective. With the development of Zulresso, there may finally be a drug that works better then current drug treatments, but without the downside that the current anti-depressants carry.

What is Zulresso (Brexanolone)?

Zulresso (common name Brexanolone) is a very interesting drug developed by Sage Therapeutics that targets and modifies how the body’s GABAA receptors work. The exact mechanism of action is unknown and still being studied. The FDA reports that they believe it is a positive allosteric interaction acting upon the GABAA receptors. Exactly how this impacts the body is a bit complex, and it might be easier to simply compare it to another drug. For example, Ambien (Zolpidem) works in a similar manner.

However what we do know is that Zulresso is a synthetic version of a hormone, allopregnanolone, that women naturally make during pregnancy. This hormone, is a derivative of progesterone. Interestingly, Allopregnanolone levels increase during pregnancy, but then dramatically decrease after giving birth – more evidence pointing to the hormone component of postpartum depression.

For more information about this exciting new drug, visit the FDA’s page featuring the announcement or if you or a loved one is interested in applying for the Zulresso study, you should speak with your physician about Sage Therapeutics’ REMS (Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies) program. You can find out more about this program in the FDA announcement.


8 Simple Ways to Make the Most of Your Next Doctor’s Visit! (And Maybe Even Make Some Money!): Read on The Thrifty Patient

We’re hoping the clinical trials of Zulresso show that it’s a safe and effective drug that’ll help millions of women and their families. If you’re interested in learning more about postpartum Depression, take a look at Sage Therapeutics’ new informational website. It’s dedicated to spreading awareness about the impact of postpartum depression.

Losartan Recall

Losartan Recall Expanded by 40 Lots

Tainted Losartan Recalled Due to Presence of Carcinogen

The FDA has announced a voluntary recall of Losartan Potassium by Legacy Pharmaceutical Packaging, LLC. This recall is an expansion of the earlier recall and due to the presence of trace amounts of a chemical called NMBA – a potential carcinogen.

Losartan Recall
Image Source: FDA.gov

What is Losartan?

Losartan is a commonly prescribed medication for high blood pressure. While it didn’t make our cut for the 10 most common drugs prescribed in the US, it’s not far behind at #12.

Want to Stay Updated on FDA Recalls the Moment they Happen?
We show you five ways to instantly learn about recalls here!

Why this Losartan Recall?

Trace amounts of a chemical called NMBA was found by the manufacturers, Camber Pharmaceuticals, Inc in the Losartan. NMBA is known as a nitrosamine, which is a carcinogen linked to esophageal and gastric cancers. In previous reports the FDA has indicated that the level of risk to individual patients is very low, but it’s still high enough to warrant the recall.

How to Tell if Your Losartan was Recalled

You should head to the FDA’s website and look at their newest list of Losartan recalls. The latest recall was this expansion to 40 repacked lots. Just keep in mind that this is an expansion of the previous Losartan recall that’s been ongoing for several months.

4 Reliable Ways to Get a Free Glucometer

How to Get a Free Glucometer

If you have diabetes or pre-diabetes, then managing your blood sugar levels is a vital part of controlling the disease. We’ve scoured the internet for ways to get free glucometers for tracking blood sugar levels. Unfortunately, there’s a real lack of options out there. Still, we were able to identify four brand name meters that, with the right insurance, you can reliably obtain for free! Just keep in mind that some terms and conditions do apply.

Also remember that you’ll need to purchase test strips for use with the glucometers. In fact, this is probably the reason why manufacturers give away free glucometers – so you buy the strips later. With that in mind we’ll also show you the common cost for each meter’s test strips. If you’re looking to purchase test strips or diabetes supplies for your free glucometer, we recommend shopping from trusted sources that focus on diabetic supplies, like Total Diabetes Supply.

Choosing the Right Glucometer

Before you pick a free meter, there are some factors to consider.

  • Is the meter covered by insurance?
  • Is the meter easy to use?
  • Are the test strips easy to use?
  • How accurate are the test strips?
  • How expensive are the test strips?
  • What features does the meter come with?
  • Does the meter come with technical support?
  • Would it make sense for me to buy a meter with more features?

We Breakdown How you Can Get a Free Glucometer!

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Our At-A-Glance Comparison

Accucheck Glucometers

Two Choices: Accu-Check Guide and Accu-Chek Avivia
Test Strips: Guide Strips – 50ct, Aviva Strips 2 pack- 50ct

Pros: The Aviva models are no frills, simple-to-use option. If you’re looking for a dependable and free glucometer, they’re a great way to go.
Cons: Some reviews expressed concern with the battery life and the fail rate of the test strips on the Aviva Model. Both of these concerns are pretty common to all the free glucometer models.

Quick Application Link 

Countour Next One Glucometer

One Choice: The Contour Next One Glucometer
Test StripsContour-Next Blood Glucose Strips – 50ct.

Pros: The Contour model is an impressively compact device. It’s also has Bluetooth functionality. The strips are also very reasonably priced.

Cons: Reviews debate the accuracy of the device. Some people indicate that it’s one of the most accurate glucometers on the market, other’s feel it reads high.

Quick Application Link 

OneTouch Verio Flex

One Choice: The OneTouch Verio Flex Glucose Meter
Test StripsOneTouch -Verio Test Strips – 50ct. 

Pros: Bluetooth, app, lithium battery, easy test strips, tiny blood sample needed.

Cons: Reviews indicate that the battery life can be short. Batteries are replaceable and not rechargeable = increased costs. May be hard to handle and read by elderly. Website has unclear requirements on how to qualify for this free glucometer.

Quick Application Link 

Abbott Freestyle Monitor

Two Choices: The Abbott Freestyle Lite and Freestyle Freedom Lite Monitor
Test StripsAbbott Freestyle Test Strips – 50ct.

Pros: Easy to read, easy to hold, smallest blood sample of all the free meters.

Cons: Common complaints are similar to the other meters. Accuracy and battery issues top the cons.

Quick Application Link

1. Accu-Check Glucometer from Roche Diabetes Care


Accu-Check Aviva. Image not to scale.

Accu-Check Guide. Image not to scale.

The Accu-Check Glucometers are produced by Roche. You can choose a free Accu-Check Aviva or Accu-Check Guide. The Aviva is the older model of the two and retails for $30. The Accu-Check Guide is a newer model and also retails for about $30.00.

Features: The Aviva is a simple and easy model and might be ideal for younger patients or patients who don’t want so many bells and whistles. The Guide is Accu-Check’s most accurate model, easy-to-use and has increased functionality. This functionality includes Bluetooth and it can be paired with their mobile app.  It’s easy to see in the dark, it has a spill-resistant test strip case, and other features you can read about here!

Customer Assistance: Both of the Accu-Check Glucometers have an excellent support site with customer assistance. You can also chose to speak with a person directly by calling
1-800-858-8072

Test Strips: The Accu-Check Aviva test strips are a little cheaper at about $23 for a pack of 50. The Accu-Check Guide strips run about $26 for a pack of 50 test strips, depending on where you get them. The Accu-Check website has a good, reasonably-priced option for strips.

Want to Get an Accu-Check Glucometer?: Visit this website and fill-out your information!

 

2. Contour Next One Glucometer

The Contour Next One Glucometer is produced by Bayer. It’s a stylish, sleek, and USB-shaped device that’s fairly inexpensive, retailing for about $8.00.

Features: The Contour Next One is has simple but effective functionality. It has a logbook which can hold 800 results, meal markers, a “smartLight” that displays if your sugar is above, below, or in range, bluetooth, and a app.

Customer Assistance: 1-800-348-8100

Want to Get a Contour Next One Glucometer?: Visit this website and fill-out your information! Don’t forget to read the conditions that are listed on the website!

Test Strips: The Contour Next test strips are some of the least expensive out there. You can get them for about $14 for a pack of 50 on Amazon. Really inexpensive test strips for an already free glucometer.

Want to Get an Accu-Check Glucometer?: Visit this website and fill-out your information!

3. OneTouch Verio Flex Glucose Meter

The OneTouch Verio Flex makers boast that the OneTouch Verio test strips have the lowest copay on most health plans and about 50% of users pay nothing for 50ct test strips. You should verify if you’re eligible, and if you are that could add up to significant savings for this free glucometer.

Features: The OneTouch Verio Flex is able to notify you if it finds a pattern of low or high blood sugar. It also syncs with an app, and has a color-coded display for blood sugar – quickly telling you if readings are high, low, or in the middle. For a free glucometer, this is pretty decent functionality.

Customer Assistance: 1-800-227-8862

Want to Get a OneTouch Verio Flex Glucometer?: Go to this website and see if you qualify. 

Test Strips: The VerioFlex test strips are very inexpensive. You might even be able to get them for free. You can get them for about $14 for a pack of 50 on Amazon.

Want to Get an Accu-Check Glucometer?: Visit this website and fill-out your information!

4. Abbott Freestyle Glucose Monitor

Abbott Freestyle Glucometer
These Abbott FreeStyle Lite Images Are Not to Scale

The Abbott Freestyle creators have developed a really impressive line of glucose monitoring products. If you’ve recently been diagnosed with diabetes, or are interested in what the newest technology looks like, I’d recommend visiting their website.

Features: The Abbott Freestyle models are simple to use and require very little blood. Recommended for kids or the elderly, or anyone who simply doesn’t want the bells and whistles of a more complicated meter.

Customer Assistance: 1-855-632-8658

 

Test Strips: The VerioFlex test strips are a bit more expensive then the others on the list. You can get them for about $30 for a pack of 50 on Amazon.

Want to Get an Abbott Freestyle Glucometer?: Go to this website and see if you qualify. 

Conclusion

Diabetes is a chronic, but controllable, disease.There are so many websites out there where you can learn more about diabetes from experts and people living with the disease. We recommend you do as much research as you can and talk to your doctor about your options. It’s also important to always consider other costs with free glucometers – like the costs of the batteries and testing strips. Finally, think about shopping at trusted sites like Total Diabetes Supply, where they specialize in diabetes products and care. You may end up paying a little more, but you’ll get a company that understands your needs better.

Recalled Accu-Check Aviva Test Strips

2018 Recalled Accu-Check Aviva Test Strips: Check Now to See if You Still Have Any!

Recalled Accu-Check Aviva Test Strips – Due to Cracked Reagent

About one year ago, March 7th 2018, Accu-Check issued a Class 2 Recall for it’s Aviva Plus test strips. These recalled accu-check aviva test strips have a self-life of about 18 months according to the diabetes council. If you use the accu-check monitors and have any old test strips it might be a good idea double check the lot numbers.

It’s important to stay on top of drug recalls. We have a great article about 5 ways to get breaking news on FDA recalls!

Recalled Accu-Check Aviva Test Strips
These lot numbers are the not the recalled numbers. This image was supplied by Roche as an example of how to find the lot numbers.


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Why the Recall?

This recall was due to a product defect. The strips themselves either had problems where it was…

  • Hard to apply a blood sample.
  • The strips weren’t being detected by the glucomonitor.
  • An inaccurate result was shown after testing.

What to do if you have a recalled lot

Should I Be Cautious of Accu-Check Products in the Future?

Since the recall, there have been no new recalls or safety alerts regarding the Roche Glucometers or the test strips. Also due to the recall being limited to these four lots, I feel confident that this was an isolated event. Still, you should keep on top of recalls and alerts. If you don’t feel like you can trust the Accu-Touch product line, watch for our upcoming post on the 4 Ways to get a Free Glucometer!

generic vs brand name

Generic Vs. Brand Name: The Shocking Price Difference of the 10 Most Commonly Prescribed Medications

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Generic Vs. Brand Name?

This question has very real financial impacts. Always ask your doctor if you can take a generic version instead of the brand name. The savings could be HUGE! We break down the math comparing generic drugs like Linisopril to their brand name counterparts.

Generic Vs. Brand Name: An Expensive Decision
Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

Here are the 10 most commonly prescribed drugs in the USA, with their brand name, generic name (If there is one) and the cost of each. This pricing is based on Drugs.com data and the Drugs.com discount card. We highly recommend you get this card, or another prescription card, as it can result in HUGE savings on medicine.

 

Drug Recalls Should Never be Ignored – 5 Simple Ways to Learn About Drug Recalls

 

A few things before we start looking generic vs brand name prices.

  1. The size of the pill will affect the price, 10mg will be more expensive then 20mg.
  2. The place you get the drug will affect the price, we hope to have some future articles about the best places to get common drugs. Right now all of these prices are based on info from drugs.com
  3. These prices are based on the cash price if you have insurance the prices will be different, or maybe even zero.
  4. Not all places take drug cards like the drugs.com prescription card. We’re working on an article about these prescription cards and hope to have it up shortly!

1. Lisinopril

Brand Name(s): Zestril, Prinivil, 5mg tablets
Prices: Zestril ($13.97 / pill ), Prinivil ($1.60 / pill

Generic Name: Lisinopril 5mg tablets
Price: $0.30 / pill

Common Use: Hypertension

These prices are based on a 90 pill bottle. As you can see, there’s massive savings using Lisinopril ($0.30) over the brand name counterparts. Zestril is a 4633% markup.

 

2. Levothyroxine

Generic Name: Levothyroxine, 0.05mg tablet
Price: $0.315 / tablet

Brand Names: Synthroid, Levoxyl, Unithroid 0.05mg tablets
Prices: Synthroid ($1.02), Levoxyl ($0.91), Unithroid ($0.61)

Common Use: Hypothyroidism

These prices are based on a 90 and 100 tablet bottles. The jump up in price from generic Levothyroxine to brand name isn’t as striking as we saw with Lisinopril, but it’s still at 218% jump from Levothyroixine to Synthroid. Or another way to look at it like a jump from $31.50 to $100.20 for a bottle of 100 tablets. That’s a $70 difference!

 

3. Atorvastatin

Brand Name(s): Lipitor, 10mg tablets
Prices: $13.97 / tablet

Generic Name: Atorvastatin, 10mg tablets
Price: $0.30 / pill

Common Use: High Cholesterol

It’s ridiculous how much the price jumps up for Atorvastatin’s brandname counterpart Lipitor. You’re looking at a 4,5557% increase to treat a condition that impacts 102 million American adults.

 

4. Metformin

Brand Name(s): Glucophage, Glucophage XR, Glumetza, Fortamet, 500mg tablets

Prices: Glucophage ($2.06 / tablet),
Glucophage XR ($1.14 / tablet), Glumetza ($53.83 / tablet), Fortamet($36.83 / tablet)

Generic Name: Metformin, 500mg tablets
Price: $0.25 / tablet

Common Use: Type II Diabetes

These prices are based off of a 60 or 100 tablet supply with 500mg tablets. As with Lisinopril, it’s striking how much the price can vary and it’s clear that the drug manufacturers are expecting people to have insurance to cover this. The difference between the prices of generic vs. brand name might be the difference between treated and untreated diabetes. If you’re interested in saving money on drugs like Metformin, remember to talk to your doctor about alternatives and not all of these listed drugs may be appropriate for you.

Amazon – Shop Now: Infinity Glucose Monitor
 

5. Simvastatin

Brand Name(s): Zocor, 5mg tablets
Prices: $3.90 / tablet

Generic Name: Simvastatin, 5mg tablets
Price: $0.55 / tablet

Common Use: High Cholesterol

These prices are based off of a 30 tablet supply. The difference between the generic and brand name prices 609%.

 

6. Omeprazole

Brand Name(s): Prilosec OTC, 20mg tablets
Prices: $0.93 / capsule

Generic Name: Omeprazole, 20mg tablets
Price: $0.76 / capsule

Common Use: GERD

These prices are based off of a 28 tablet supply. Omeprazole is one of the rare drugs where the brand name price is fairly close to the generic price.

 

7. Amlodipine

Brand Name(s): Norvasc, 2.5mg tablets
Prices: $6.91 / tablet

Generic Name: Amlodipine, 2.5mg tablets
Price: $0.45 / tablet

Common Uses: Angina, Coronary Artery Disease, Heart Failure

These prices are based off of a 90 tablet supply. The increase in price from the generic vs brand name is 1,435%! Totally ridiculous.

 

8. Metoprolol

Brand Name(s): Lopressor, 50mg tablets
Prices: $2.49 / tablet

Generic Name: Metoprolol, 50mg tablets
Price: $0.64 / tablet

Common Uses: Angina, Heart Attack

These prices are based on 100 tablet supplies. For what it treats, the jump isn’t as high as what we saw with Amlodipine. Still, going from generic to brand name is a 289% increase!

 

9. Acetaminophen

Brand Name(s): Tylenol, 325mg tablets
Prices: $0.26/ tablet

Generic Name: Acetaminophen, 325mg tablets
Price: $0.17 / tablet

Common Uses: Fever, Pain

A common drug found in medicine cabinets across the country. These numbers are based on 50 tablet supplies and it’s the first drug on the list that can be obtained without a prescription. The generic vs. brand name price difference is not as striking in this case. 

 

10. Albuterol

Brand Name(s): Proventil, 6.7g aerosol
Prices: $13.69 / gram

Generic Name: Albuterol, 90mL aerosol
Price: $0.34 / mL

Common Uses: COPD

The comparison here is a little skewed because the units given arn’t the same. If you’re having trouble paying for Proventil, you may want to check out this site for coupons and options.

These are only the 10 most common drugs that we looked at today. If you do find yourself needing one of these very common prescriptions, then take some time to compare the generic vs. brand name prices. Also, make sure to bring it up at your next doctor’s visit – an empowered and assertive patient is the best patient! In future posts we’ll compare pharmacy prices beyond drugs.com and the best places to get your generic prescriptions filled.