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More Americans choosing generic drugs

  • Written by BPT

Have you ever gone to fill a prescription and the pharmacist asks if you’d like the generic version of the medication, perhaps reminding you that it is at a considerable cost savings over the brand-named drug? Or you’re told that your insurance will only cover the generic equivalent of what your doctor has prescribed?
 

The first time this happens, you undoubtedly have many questions: Is there a difference between branded and generic medicines? Will the generic be just as safe and effective? Do insurance companies prefer generics? If you have, you’re not alone in asking these questions.
 

It’s no secret that the rising costs of health care services and medications have been affecting millions of Americans – indeed, our economy – and will undoubtedly continue to do so in the future. However, generic alternatives have proven to be a critical factor in slowing down national health care spending. In fact, generic drug use has saved America’s health care system approximately $1.07 trillion over the past decade, with $192.8 billion in savings achieved in 2011 alone, according to a 2012 study by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics.
 

However, while consumers recognize the cost advantage of generic drugs, they are reminded, from time to time, of the question of quality and efficacy of generic medications versus name-brand equivalents. Consumers should know that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the federal agency responsible for protecting and promoting public health, requires that generic drugs must be identical or “bioequivalent” to brand name drugs in dosage form, safety, strength, route of administration, quality, performance characteristics and intended use.
 

“The U.S. FDA tests generic medicines just as rigorously as their branded counterparts,” explains Venkat Krishnan, senior vice president and regional director at Ranbaxy Inc. “Generic drugs must meet rigid qualifying criteria before they can be made available to the general public. At Ranbaxy, we have stringent protocols in place to ensure that our products are both safe and effective, and we stand behind that, focused on our philosophy of ‘Quality and Patients First.’”
 

People are choosing generics in increasing numbers, out of economic necessity and because they are increasingly better informed.Of the 4 billion prescriptions written in 2011, nearly 80 percent were dispensed using generic versions of their brand name counterpart. With generics, consumers have the option of paying a price that is as much as 85 percent lower than name-brand drugs.
 

If you have questions about switching to a generic prescription, have a conversation with your doctor or pharmacist, or visit www.gphaonline.org for more information and the facts about generic drugs.

Weekend Warriors Get Ready!

  • Written by Lanika Buchanan, ND, L.Ac. & Elizabeth Thybulle, ND

Summer is coming and you are ready to start moving again. If you have been a couch potato for the last few months it is time to thaw out – the hibernation is over! It is normal to feel a little stiff and creaky after that winter slumber so take it easy. Many injuries occur when an eight-mile hike up Mount Si catches de-conditioned muscles unaware. Start slow on your activity and ramp up during the summer so you take on more and more challenging activities.

The first step to get the kinks out is stretching. We truly can’t emphasize this enough! Start a daily 10- minute stretching routine now along with minerals to aid muscle contraction. A combination calcium-magnesium supplement is extremely important for working muscles to prevent cramping and some soreness.

The next step is to look at the activities you are planning on engaging in this summer, for example; hiking, kayaking, water sports, gardening or cycling. Think about the major muscle groups that are involved. Take kayaking as an example; upper body muscles and core/abdominal strength are very important.

Starting training those muscles at home or in the gym, before it’s time to get out in the kayak with simple exercises you may already know. Or, ask your naturopathic doctor or a qualified personal trainer about how you may build up the strength and endurance in the muscle groups that you will be using the most.

It is important to be well trained and have the proper muscle strength before you take part in your favorite summer activity so that you are able to spend time enjoying yourself, and not end up sore and miserable on Monday (or worse yet, back on the couch).

The final step is to make sure that you are properly fueled and hydrated. Depending on the length of your chosen activity you will need to plan to have foods containing complex carbohydrates and lean protein, and ample fluids. If you are sweating heavily and the temperature outside is quite warm you may consider adding an electrolyte product (i.e. Nuun) to your water.

Remember, this is supposed to be fun. Those outdoor activities can be an inexpensive way to enjoy your day with friends and family. Going to the hospital will definitely defeat that purpose. Following the above steps can keep you in the sun and out of the clinic.

Dr. Elizabeth Thybulle is a naturopathic doctor and Dr. Lanika Buchanan is a naturopathic doctor and acupuncturist. Health Moves, 17311 135th Ave. NE Ste. C-800, Woodinville, WA 98072 Phone: 425.402.9999 or www.HealthMoves.org

 

Four health checks every woman must do – for herself and those she loves

  • Written by BPT

American women spend more time taking care of their families, homes and jobs than themselves. With so much time invested in caring for others, women can overlook the importance of their own health. Yet, neglecting their own health needs can make it much harder for women to also take care of those they love.

Women who consider themselves generally in good health and who are very busy may be less inclined to stay on schedule with important health checks. If putting off a doctor’s visit doesn’t seem like that big a deal, consider these women’s health statistics:

• A full-time working mom spends more than 10 hours a day on household activities, taking care of children and working outside the home, and just 2.3 hours on "me time" of leisure activities or sports, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s American Time Use Survey.

• Fifty-six percent of mothers say it’s "very difficult" to achieve a work-life balance, according to Pew Research.

• More than 14 percent of American women age 18 and older are in fair or poor health, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

National Women’s Health Week is May 12 to 18, but taking care of your own health should be a year-round pursuit. Here are four health checks every woman should have, and if it’s been a while (or never) since you had one, schedule a doctor’s visit right away:

 

• Annual physical – Kids get a checkup every year, and so do senior citizens. You should, too. No matter what your age or relative level of health, it’s important to see your family doctor at least once a year for a complete physical that includes blood pressure screening and a blood test that will check for diabetes, high cholesterol and other problems. This checkup can help your doctor spot any problems, provide you with guidance toward your weight and health goals, and give you peace of mind when everything checks out just fine.

 

• Skin check – Skin cancer rates have been rising for years, and now one in every five Americans will get skin cancer, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association. It’s also one of the most preventable and treatable forms of cancer, if caught early. In addition to performing regular self-checks, it’s important to have your skin thoroughly checked by a professional, too. Ask your physician to include a skin check as part of your annual physical, or schedule an appointment with a dermatologist.

 

• Reproductive health –From fertility questions and cancer screenings, to heavy periods and uterine fibroids, women can face many reproductive health issues. It’s important for women of every age to monitor the health of reproductive organs, so be sure to see your gynecologist once a year. He or she can also tell you what tests you should have to monitor your health, such as an annual pap smear or mammogram. Visit "Change the Cycle" to learn more.

 

• Mental/emotional well-being – Just as you take care of your own physical health and the mental health of your family members, it’s important to take care of your own emotional well-being. There’s nothing wrong with finding some "me-time" for yourself every day. In fact, it’s vital. Numerous studies show that happy, relaxed people are healthier than their stressed, tired, unhappy peers. Whether your mental health regimen includes meditation, a pedicure or 15 minutes with a good book, set aside time each day to do something that makes you relaxed and happy.

 

Facts matter when your health is at stake

  • Written by BPT

 

How to make the best decisions with your health care provider

Learning that you have a disease or medical condition can be overwhelming. You need to learn more about your condition. You may get advice from all directions – from well-meaning friends and family, the Internet, magazines, newspapers and television. But in the end, you want to understand your treatment options so that you can discuss your choices with your health care provider.

But how do you know what information to trust?

Every patient is unique and has different questions about his or her treatment options. While we may learn from others’ experiences, everyone can benefit from factual, unbiased information. The Federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) is a great place to start exploring facts about treatment options for many common health conditions.-

AHRQ takes the scientific facts and puts them into easy-to-read summaries that help people and their health care providers weigh the pros and cons of treatment options – such as comparing different medications for type 2 diabetes or treatments for high cholesterol. AHRQ’s resources also suggest important questions to ask your health care team. After all, understanding the facts about your treatment options will help you make educated decisions about what is best for you or your loved ones.

Three steps can help you prepare for your next medical appointment:

Explore: Explore AHRQ’s free resources to learn more about available treatment options for your condition. AHRQ has information about a wide range of health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, mental health, men’s and women’s health, and muscle, bone and joint conditions.

Compare: Read about the benefits, risks, and potential side effects for each treatment. Discuss with your health care provider what is most important to you and your loved ones as you explore potential treatments.

Prepare: Write down questions and concerns to share during your next medical visit. This list will help you and your health care team work together to make informed decisions about which treatments work best for your needs.

To compare your treatment options and download treatment summaries, visit AHRQ’s Treatment Options initiative at:-ahrq.gov/patients-consumers/treatmentoptions/.To order free print copies of treatment summaries on many health conditions, call 1-800-358-9295 and use code C-01.

Baby boomers and driving vision - maintaining safety and independence

  • Written by BPT

(BPT) – Baby boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964, are aging differently than any generation in U.S. history. Today, older Americans remain more active later in life, working longer and engaging in hobbies and recreational activities.

It is estimated that by 2030, nearly one in five adults will be 65 and older. In 2050, this group is projected to reach 88 million – more than double the 40 million in 2010. This will lead to a significant increase in older adults driving vehicles for both necessity and pleasure. Unfortunately vision, cognitive skills and motor functions decline as we age.

As many as 5,288 people age 65 and older were killed and 187,000 were injured in traffic accidents, according to 2009 data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That group accounted for 16 percent of all traffic deaths and 8 percent of the injured, but accounted for only 13 percent of the population. As the 65 and over demographic increases to 20 percent of the population in 2030, the number of accidents and fatalities among this group is expected to increase.

Most states have minimum vision requirements to possess a driver’s license. A 2006 Vision Council report indicates that the 10 states with the highest rate of fatal crashes include four that require no vision screening for license renewal and four that only require vision screenings at intervals of eight or more years. The Vision Council also reported that only 20 states require more frequent vision screenings for older drivers.

Importantly, there are proactive measures seniors can take to preserve and enhance their vision. Many clinical research studies have demonstrated that older drivers can improve their vision by eating foods rich in the nutrients zeaxanthin (zee-uh-zan-thin) and lutein or taking eye vitamins containing these nutrients. These nutrients create a protective film in the back of the eye known as “macular pigment” to protect and improve vision. These nutrients have been scientifically proven to enhance driving vision and driver confidence. Your eye care professional and the American Optometric Association website are excellent sources of information regarding nutrition and eye health.

Glare is a common complaint among older drivers, particularly at night. When a driver is “blinded” by an oncoming car’s lights, they are literally “driving blind” for a period of time until vision recovers. Imagine driving at 60 mph with your eyes closed for five seconds. You would travel 440 feet during that five second period – the equivalent of one and a half football fields. Studies have demonstrated that recovery time from bright light-induced glare can be reduced by as much as five seconds by increasing macular pigment density through zeaxanthin and lutein supplementation.

Dense or thick MPOD (Macular Pigment Optical Density) can reduce uncomfortable and dangerous glare caused by oncoming headlights, street lights and traffic lights; enhance contrast sensitivity to help drivers see pedestrians, vehicles and other objects; and help diminish discomfort or sensitivity to bright sunlight. -

While lutein is commonly available in the average diet from dark green leafy vegetables like spinach and broccoli, dietary zeaxanthin is scarce in the average U.S. daily diet. Corn, orange peppers, brightly colored fruits and vegetables, and eggs contain low quantities of zeaxanthin, which means one would have to eat approximately 20 ears of corn to obtain the daily recommended amount of dietary zeaxanthin associated with healthy macular pigment.

Eye vitamins like EyePromise are doctor recommended, proven and guaranteed to increase macular pigment. The dietary zeaxanthin contained in EyePromise eye vitamin formulas is derived from unique orange paprika peppers, a natural botanical source rich in this important nutrient.

Many Optometrists and Ophthalmologists offer MPOD (Macular Pigment Optical Density) measurement through a simple, fast, and inexpensive exam. Contact your eye care professional about having your macular pigment measured, and increasing your MPOD if needed.

Driving safety is important at any age, but as our population ages at an unprecedented pace, proactively taking care of your vision is vital to safety and independence.