PharmacyChecker Blog

Helping Americans Get The Truth About Prescription Drug Savings
Published by:

Were you prescribed opioids instead of OTC pain meds?

According to a new study, it turns out that, potentially, millions of people should have been prescribed over-the-counter drugs—not addictive narcotics. That’s a major finding considering 600,0000 Americans have died from drug overdose between 1999-2016. The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) study shows that over-the-counter medications, such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, aspirin and naproxen may work better than the hard, addictive stuff, such as Vicodin, Oxycontin, and Fentanyl.

We recognize and respect the role that properly prescribed prescription narcotics have played and will continue to play in pain management. However, we also believe that Big Pharma makers and sellers of opioids caused this national crisis of drug addiction by helping to create looser prescribing rules. In other words, while at one-time opioid medications were viewed as a last resort to treat serious pain, drug companies pushed medical education that led to the prescribing of opioid drugs. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has revised its guidelines to encourage far tighter prescribing practices, but, as this study indicates, their revisions came way too late.

Patients Who Took Opioids

The JAMA study looked at 248 patients with varying levels of pain, back pain being the most prevalent form affecting 65% of patients. Others had pain associated with hip, knee and that associated with osteoarthritis. One group of patients were prescribed opioid medications. They started with fast acting morphine, a combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen, or oxycodone. Long acting medications, morphine or oxycodone, were used when the short acting treatments were not working. When those did not work, fentanyl patches were prescribed.

Patients Who Took Non-opioids

Another group took NSAIDs. If NSAIDs did not work, then the group took other prescription medications, such as gabapentin (Neurontin) or pregabalin (Lyrica). If those didn’t work, then tramadol, which is an opioid-based painkiller but less addictive than the ones in the opioid group.

Results of the Study

Patients in the non-opioid group reported equal or better results in pain alleviation than patients in the opioid group. Admittedly, I’m confused because tramadol was in the non-opioid group, even though it’s an opiate-based medication. Also, one shortcoming variable of the study is that patients knew what medications they were taking, which could have biased their reporting.

Overall, the study strongly demonstrates that millions who were prescribed strong opioid drugs and became hooked could just as well have been treated initially with regular OTC pain medications. Not surprisingly, patients could have also saved billions of dollars over the last few decades by taking aspirin instead of brand-name prescription opioids.

This has really caught my attention because the industry-funded groups like the Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies and Partnership for Safe Medicines equates importation from Canada with the opioid crisis. Instead of urging people to seek alternatives to opioids, the pharmaceutical industry propagates the senseless idea that increasing imports of lower cost (non-pain) medications from Canada will worsen the opioid crisis. They would rather point fingers than address the sickness of their complicity in creating the drug addiction crisis in the first place.

Tagged with: , , , , , ,

Drug Safety Is Often Your Responsibility, With or Without a Prescription

Drug safety topics on this blog usually relate to online pharmacies and the dangers posed by rogue sites selling bad meds or real prescription meds sold online but without requiring your prescription; and personal drug importation and the importance of only buying from credentialed online pharmacies. Today I read about the many deaths caused by overdoses of acetaminophen, a popular over-the-counter (OTC) pain-reliever, and felt moved to remind our readers to use great care when taking all medication. Whether or not a drug requires a prescription, in protection of your health, you are responsible for taking medicine as directed, whether by your doctor or on the label of an OTC product.

ProPublica, a non-profit investigative media organization, reported that over 1,500 Americans had died over the past decade from ingesting acetaminophen, usually because they took more than the recommended amounts. Their research is highly critical of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for moving too slowly to safeguard American from taking too much acetaminophen, whereas other countries have done a much better job.  McNeil Consumer Healthcare, a division of Johnson and Johnson, the makers of Tylenol, which is a leading brand of acetaminophen, is also criticized by ProPublica for hiding research about the medication’s dangers. This is not a criticism of the medication acetaminophen, as ProPublica is clear to point out its benefits and that many medical professionals stand by it – and for good reasons, it helps adults and children reduce their fevers and feel better.

Central to ProPublica’s criticisms is that the medication’s warnings do not include death as a side-effect of taking slightly more than the recommended doses. This is all the more important since studies show that other pain-relievers and fever-reducers, such as Ibuprofen do not cause death at such high rates.

People have sued McNeil and lost because their loved ones who died took more than the recommended dose of Tylenol. The parents of one child who died argued that the label did not warn that death could occur. Our hearts go out in abundance to these parents. To avoid such tragedies, the most important reminder here is that drug safety is often about following directions and is often a matter of life or death.

Tagged with: , ,

Nexium, Prevacid, Prilosec, etc. – How to Save Money and Treat Your Heartburn

Fifteen million Americans suffer from heartburn every day, caused by such conditions as GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), Laryngopharyngeal disease, dyspepsia, and peptic ulcer disease. If you suffer from chronic heartburn you may want to use a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) to treat it. Which one should you take, and which is the best value?

PPI’s are among the most commonly prescribed medications; Americans spent over $6 billion dollars on Nexium, “the purple pill”, in 2011. That same year, over 59 million prescriptions were written for omeprazole (generic Prilosec). These numbers don’t even include sales for Aciphex, another popular prescription PPI, or any of the over the counter PPI’s, such as Prilosec (low dosage), Prevacid, or lower dose omeprazole.

A report from Consumer Reports studying 7 different PPI’s, found that all of them completely relieved symptoms for roughly 7 out of 10 patients within four weeks, and they repaired damage to the esophagus in roughly 9 out of 10 people within eight weeks. Consumer Reports recommends the OTC drugs when they are an option. If the necessary dosage is not available in OTC drugs, you should consult your doctor to find the prescription-only PPI with the lowest out of pocket costs. All of the OTC PPI’s mentioned above are about $30 for 28 pills.  If you choose to go with a prescription medication, check out the price tables below. We’ve compiled price comparisons for two popular brand name PPI’s below. For instance, you can save up to 89% — or $233 a month — on the “Purple Pill” by ordering from a verified online pharmacy.

Savings on 30 Pills of Nexium 40 mg

Program Price Savings over Local Pharmacy Percent savings
U.S. Local Pharmacy $260.99
Discount Card Option $222.96 $38.03 15%
Discount Coupon Option $213.07 $47.92 18%
U.S. Online Pharmacy $203.08 $57.91 22%
International Online Pharmacy $27.90 $233.09 89%

Local pharmacy in New York City, U.S. online international pharmacy found at International Online Pharmacy price as found on, discount card used found on, coupon found on Prices collected 1/16/2013.

Compare Nexium Prices on

Savings on 30 Pills of Aciphex 20 mg

Program Price Savings over Local Pharmacy Percent savings
U.S. Local Pharmacy $347.99
Discount Card Option $321.11 $26.88 8%
Discount Coupon Option $280.83 $67.16 19%
U.S. Online Pharmacy $260.10 $87.89 25%
International Online Pharmacy $49.00 $298.99 86%

Local pharmacy in New York City, U.S. online international pharmacy found at International Online Pharmacy price as found on, discount card used found on, coupon found on Prices collected 1/16/2013.

Compare AciphexPrices on

Tagged with: , , , ,