Popular OTC Medicines Recalled Due to Manufacturing Problems At U.S. Plant

While PharmacyChecker.com’s main focus is on safe and affordable prescription medication, we are aware that many of our website visitors also take over-the-counter (OTC) products. It’s important to bring to their attention safety issues with OTC products, as we have done in the past. We want to point out that some popular OTC medicines in the United States are being recalled due to potentially serious manufacturing flaws, as reported by the FDA and featured on MSNBC.com.

OTC meds manufactured at Novartis Consumer Health Inc. in its Lincoln, Nebraska plant may have been mixed with dangerous painkiller medication, such as Percocet, Endocet, Opana and Zydone. While the mixture dose is said to be minimal, Novartis Health is voluntarily recalling some select bottle sizes of Excedrin, No Doz, Bufferin and Gas-x Prevention since there may be some stray tablets or capsules and/or could contain broken or chipped tablets.

If you have these medications, be sure to check the manufactured date and location properly, and take a look inside the bottle itself too, before taking them. The medicine may need to be discarded or returned to the manufacturer for a refund. See below for details from the manufacturer.

Note from Novartis-OTC.com: Novartis Consumer Health (NCH) is voluntarily recalling all lots of select bottle sizes of Excedrin® and NoDoz® products with expiry dates of December 20, 2014 or earlier as well as Bufferin® and Gas-X® Prevention® products with expiry dates of December 20, 2013 or earlier, in the United States.

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Why Do Americans Need Greater Access to Safe International Online Pharmacies?

The simple answer is that tens of millions of Americans cannot afford prescription drugs here in the United States because they’re too expensive. Meanwhile, drug prices outside the U.S. are much lower – often 80% lower. Americans skipping or not taking prescription drugs is a national emergency largely going ignored in our healthcare debate.

Here are the facts about Americans skipping medication due to drug prices:

1.  25 million Americans did not take prescribed medication in 2009 due to cost, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. From 1997 to 2009, the percentage of Americans not taking their medications due to cost nearly doubled increasing from 4.8 to 8.4%.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics 2011. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/hus10.pdf#highlights

 

2.  48 million Americans ages 19-64 did not fill a prescription due to cost in 2010, according to the Commonwealth Fund – a 66% increase since 2001.

Source: The Commonwealth Fund 2010 Biennial Health Insurance Survey, http://www.commonwealthfund.org/Surveys/2011/Mar/2010-Biennial-Health-Insurance-Survey.aspx.

 

3.  3.4 million Medicare enrollees stop taking their medication due to the coverage gap.

Source: Polinski JM, Shrank WH, Huskamp HA, Glynn RJ, Liberman JN, et al. 2011 Changes in Drug Utilization during a Gap in Insurance Coverage: An Examination of the Medicare Part D Coverage Gap. PLoS Medicine.

 

4.  Prescription non-adherence adds $290 billion to America’s healthcare costs. 

Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 76 FR 12969. March 2011. http://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2011/03/09/2011-5287/campaign-to-improve-poor-medication-adherence-u18.

Access our RxSOS fact sheet here.

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New Drug Savings Options Needed as 43,000 Illinois Residents Lose Benefits

An estimated 43,000 residents of Illinois will find it more difficult, if not impossible, to afford their prescription medication due to heavy budget cuts, according to the Chicago Tribune. Specifically, funding for the Illinois Cares Rx program, which  subsidizes the cost of medicine and payments associated with Medicare drug benefits, will be cut in half, from $107.4 million to $53.7 million. Illinois Cares Rx includes people with a Medicare drug plan and others who have no drug benefits at all.

With the cuts in place beginning September 1st, 2011, the Illinois Cares Rx program will only be available to those residents earning 200 percent or less of the federal poverty level – or $21,780 annually, down from a higher threshold of 240%, or $27,610. Even the 173,500 remaining in the program will “face higher co-payments for prescriptions — in some cases, double the amount they were previously paying.(more…)

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Generic Use Increase Means Spending Decrease for Consumers; But No U.S. Drug Price Relief on Brand Name Drugs in Sight

A new study published this month finally offers positive news about prescription drugs. Findings from The Use of Medicines in the United States: Review of 2010, by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics, show that 78% of all prescription orders filled are for generic drugs, up from 75% in 2009. Aside from Lipitor, which comes in at number 12, the top 21 most widely used drugs, recorded by filled prescription, are all generic. This is good news because it means that even as brand name prices continue to rise, consumers can still save money on generics.

Consumers need not look past our borders for low priced generic medication since the U.S. usually has the lowest prices. You can find U.S. generic drug prices by comparing prices on www.pharmacychecker.com.

Despite the good news about generic drug utilization, uninsured Americans are too often deprived of access to affordable brand name drugs in the United States where there is no generic alternative. The problem is getting worse, as evidenced by brand name drug price increases of 8.3.% last year and rising numbers of Americans not taking their medication due to cost. Indeed, this is the reason millions of Americans are seeking affordable medication from outside the U.S.

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Last month the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced a no contest grant to be awarded to the National Consumers League (NCL) to examine the problem of prescription adherence. The problem is one we discuss almost every week on this blog: Americans are not taking their prescribed medication. Therefore, when we came across an FDA initiative aimed at tackling the problem we were intrigued.

In the FDA announcement we expected to find mention of some of the known causes for Americans not taking their prescribed medications, such as cost, which has previously been proven as the number one reason Americans skip prescriptions. Amazingly, there was not one mention of drug prices or cost in the announcement. In choosing NCL as the recipient of the $40,000 grant it appeared that FDA might be on the right track After all, NCL knows from its own commissioned study that drug prices are the main reason Americans don’t take their medications. NCL has brought together “stakeholders” from government, non-profit organizations and the private sector. This sounds like a good idea. (more…)

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Drug Price S.O.S Revisited: 25 Million Americans Skip Taking Needed Medication Due to Cost

Just over one year ago we launched this blog with a post called Drug Price S.O.S. – 120 Million Americans Struggle to Afford Medicine. That number came from a 2008 Harvard School of Public Health study showing that 4 in 10 Americans have trouble affording their prescription drugs. Sadly, the situation has gotten worse.

As reported on MSNBC.com and Reuters, new information released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics shows a dramatic increase in the number of American adults who are unable to afford healthcare.  From 1997 to 2009 the precentage of Americans  not taking their medications due to cost nearly doubled from - increasing  from 4.8 to 8.4%.  The earlier Harvard study mentioned above shows 40 percent of Americans struggling with costs; that could mean pill splitting, skipping doses, taking alternatives, or simply going without needed medication.  The recent government statistics are clear about how many Americans don’t take their medication due to cost: 25 million! [8.4% of 300 million (the U.S. population) = 25 million]. (more…)

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Senator Grassley Signals a Possible Comeback for Drug Importation Legislation

With drug importation champion Senator Byron Dorgan’s departure from the Senate, advocates for lower drug prices were concerned that no one would step up to the plate. Raising the issue from the dead, in an interview yesterday with IowaPolitics.com, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), who supported the Dorgan bill, has boldly picked up the torch unambiguously voicing his continuing support of the legislation to allow lower priced drug imports.

Senator Grassley’s frames the issue as follows:

“Giving American consumers access to imported prescription drugs would force pharmaceutical companies to re-evaluate this unfair pricing strategy and drive U.S. prices down. It’s a free-trade issue. American consumers are able to buy almost every other product available from other countries. The same should be true for prescription drugs.” (more…)

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More Chain Stores Pick Up $2 Generic Medicare Drug Plan Option

Earlier this month we reported on the UnitedHealthcare Pharmacy Saver plan for Medicare Part D. This plan offers enrollees many of their generic prescriptions for just $2 (some 30- and some 90-day supplies) at Kroger and Safeway chain stores. Our research found that although a few popular generics were not covered by the plan, there was a fairly low co-pay anyway, so cost-wise, UnitedHealthcare has presented a solid Medicare drug plan.

One of our concerns was that those individuals who do not live near a Kroger or Safeway chain will not have easy access to their prescriptions. Well, we have good news to pass on – last week, DrugStoreNews.com announced that Bloom, H-E-B, Hy-Vee, Food Lion, Harveys, Publix Super Markets, Sweetbay Supermarket and Target chains have all joined as participating pharmacies.

This expansion is great, though we still encourage you to compare this plan with others on MedicareDrugPlans.com. It’s important to fit all plan variables to your needs. And remember, just ten more days until open enrollment closes!

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