When you need a prescription filled, how do you decide where to go?
Convenience and price are the factors that drive most of us. I’d like to suggest that there are additional factors to consider. In fact, there are many reasons to think and act locally, not only to get you your prescriptions filled quickly and at a fair price, but also to ensure that our community thrives.
While we see chain stores popping up everywhere, did you know that there are 24,000 independent community pharmacies in the US today? And that their local pharmacists fill 44 percent of the retail prescriptions sold each year? These pharmacies do an excellent job not only in filling prescriptions but helping customers understand how and when to take their prescriptions. A 2002 Consumer Reports survey of 32,000 readers found that 85 percent of surveyed Consumer Reports readers were very satisfied or completely satisfied with their experience at independents compared with 58 percent of chain-drugstore customers. These same Consumer Reports readers also reported that independent pharmacies were most likely to have fast service and helpful pharmacists. This may be partly due to the entrepreneurial character of independents, which puts their owner-operators at least one step closer to their patients than other types of pharmacies. This often translates into fewer delays in filling orders, shorter waits in line, and more personal attention from pharmacists. Consumer Reports readers found independent pharmacists to be accessible, approachable, and especially knowledgeable about both prescription and nonprescription medications. Local community pharmacies are often a good source of hard-to-find medications.
The Consumer Reports survey found that when these local pharmacies were out of a medication, they were able to get it for patients within one day 80 percent of the time.Two Other types of pharmacies were only able to restock within a day about 55 percent of the time.
So, what about costs? Cost is less of an issue at independents today than it was in the past because most pharmacies accept insurance plans. Your copayment will be the same at all pharmacies. The Consumer Report’s research found that the chains they evaluated charged the highest prices, presumably for prescriptions not covered by insurance.
But beyond the personal attention, professional service, high standard of care, and lower costs of independents, there are other reasons to shop locally at independent pharmacies. Economics is one. Local businesses tend to hire locally for positions that are often centralized in a chain’s headquarters. Compared with the select inventory of chains, independents also carry local items in addition to national brand items. And the profits from locally-owned businesses more often make their way back into the community. In fact, a 2003 Independent Business Alliance economic impact study conducted in Texas found that more than three times as much money stayed in the community when it was spent at local businesses than when it was spent at chains.4 Add to this the higher costs for road maintenance and public safety services of the chains, and you have some strong financial arguments in favor of independent pharmacies. When you spend your money with local independent businesses, too, you are having a critical say in the look and feel of your town, and taking one step toward helping to preserve its unique character. That’s something that can’t be measured in dollars.
What is a sunburn?
A sunburn is a BURN. Most often this type of burn is described as superficial or “first degree”, causing redness, tenderness, pain, and swelling. A greater degree of sun exposure can produce a deeper, “second degree” burn. This type of burn can produce blisters accompanied with fever, chills, and weakness.
What treatment options are available for sunburns?
Sunburns can be treated with a variety of products. It is important to know when self-treat is appropriate and when to seek medical treatment. Reasons to seek medical attention include children with burns or adult burns that cover a large portion of the body or those including the face, ears, and lips. People at a high risk of infection such as those on chemotherapy or those with diabetes, as well as elderly should seek medical treatment.
Initial treatment for sunburns should include avoiding any further exposure. Minor sunburns can be relieved with cool compresses or a cool bath.
Other symptomatic relief may include cleansing with a baby wash, application of Aloe vera, and the avoidance of alcohol and hydrogen peroxide products. Ointments and creams can be used to decrease pain, protect from friction and irritation, and prevent drying. Ointments, such as A&D Ointment, can be used on intact skin. Creams are most appropriate for application to wet, broken skin. Lotions spread easily and are easy to apply when a sunburn covers a large portion of the body. Aerosol and pump sprays are a more costly option, but limit the need to touch the affected area and may be associated with decreased pain on application. Anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen may help with symptom control. If ibuprofen cannot be taken, Tylenol® (acetaminophen) may be used.
Most sunburns will heal within 3 to 6 days, with those that blister healing within 2 to 3 weeks with minimal to no scarring. Further medical treatment should be sought if symptoms or pain persists beyond 7 days.
How can a sunburn be avoided?
Completely avoiding sun exposure is unrealistic for most people, especially in the summer months. Sun rays are most direct and damaging between the hours of 10 A.M. and 4 P.M, but there are protective measures that you can take to protect yourself. These may include the use of protective clothing such as a hat with a wide brim, long pants, and long-sleeved shirts, as well as avoidance of tanning beds and sunlamps. Wet clothing and water allow significant transmission of UV light and offer no protection. The most popular and easiest option is the use of a sunscreen product.
What sunscreen products are available?
Sunscreens are generally described by SPF’s [Sun Protection Factor], which determine their effectiveness for ultraviolet protection. Determining how much protection you may need can be a little tricky.
2 types of products are available for sun protection. These include products that block UV (ultraviolet) light and those that reflect and scatter UV light. Products that reflect UV light are opaque and are not as cosmetically pleasing as those that block UV light. Generally, an SPF of 30 provides adequate protection for all skin types. A product with a higher or lower SPF should be based on how light or dark your particular skin color is.
Sunscreen should be applied 15-30 minutes prior to exposure and every 15-30 minutes during exposure and after swimming, sweating, or toweling or as often as the product labeling recommends. Products should be applied generously all over the body. Areas that are especially important, but are often missed include the lips, ears, tops of feet, and hairline. Water-resistant products should be reapplied every 40 minutes and those products labeled as very water-resistant every 80 minutes.
Brand vs. Generic Medications
What’s the difference between a brand-name and a generic medication? You know it has something to do with price. If you’re like most people, however, that may be all you know—which leaves you wondering whether “going generic” means compromising quality for cost. In short, no, it doesn’t. You may be surprised to learn that brand-name and generic medications are more alike than different. Here’s a snapshot comparison.
A pharmaceutical company can spend millions of dollars researching, developing, marketing, and promoting a new drug, to which they assign a brand name. To protect their investment, the company pursues a patent. This gives them the exclusive right to distribute the medication for a period of time, typically 20 years.
Once the patent nears expiration, companies can apply to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to introduce a generic version, which is essentially a copy of the brand-name drug. This drug is called by its chemical name. In other words, its generic name simply describes its ingredients. About half the drugs on the market today are available in generic form.
Generic drugs can be sold at a discounted price, not because they are inferior in quality but because they haven’t incurred the same development costs as their brand-name equivalents. Competition among manufacturers of generics can then drive down prices even further. Some analyses show that drugs costs can be cut by 14 to 16 percent per day when generics are used instead of brands.
Generic drugs are not second-rate: They must meet the same standards as brand-name medications. Manufactured at the same quality facilities, they must undergo a rigorous review that confirms their safety and effectiveness before receiving FDA approval. Although it’s become standard practice, most states require that generics have the same active ingredients, strength, dosage, and route of administration—whether pill, liquid, or injection—as their brand-name counterparts. Their quality, purity, and stability must be comparable, too, leading to similar effects—and side effects—as the brand-name drug. And, contrary to popular opinion, generics do not take longer to take effect in your body.
So how do generic medications differ from brand-name drugs, other than in price? Trademark law does require some differences. In general, inactive ingredients that affect color and flavorings are different. However, this does not impact the safety and effectiveness of the generic drug. When picking up a prescription, though, don’t just assume it’s a generic if it looks different than it did in the past. Double-check its identity with your pharmacist.
It is important to know that your pharmacist must fill prescriptions as written by the doctor, even if they are for expensive brand-name medications. However, that doesn’t mean you and I can’t talk to the doctor about potentially making a change in the future. Sometimes there is an acceptable generic that your doctor is simply not aware of.
Should I Get A Flu Shot?
The flu is a respiratory infection that's caused by many different viruses. Up to one in five people get the flu in the U.S. each year. It comes on suddenly, causes worse symptoms than the cold, and can be serious for some people. As you know, last year, a new strain of flu was thrown into the mix. Called swine flu at first, then H1N1, it caused symptoms similar to regular flu, such as fever, cough, aches, chills, and fatigue.
Did you get a flu shot last year? If you're someone who's always thought flu shots are just for your grandparents, think again. For the 2010–11 flu season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends that almost everyone get a flu shot. That is, everyone six months and older. These changes will simplify guidelines that have been confusing to many people. You should know that the new flu vaccine will include the H1N1 strain.
Any shortage in vaccine supplies this season may slightly alter a plan to vaccinate everyone at once, however. In that case, the CDC may prioritize vaccines as it has in the past. It would first target people who are at higher risk of developing complications from the flu. This includes people who are 65 and older and pregnant women. Also, people with certain chronic medical conditions, such as asthma or heart disease, would take priority. In addition, it is also important for those coming into close contact with these people to get vaccinated early.
Now, if you're pregnant, you may wonder if it is safe to get a flu shot. The short answer is, yes. However, this is not true if you have a severe allergy to eggs. That's because the ingredients for flu shots are grown inside eggs. Also, you should not get a vaccine if you have had a severe reaction to a flu shot in the past. If you're pregnant, request the flu shot, not the nasal spray vaccine. It is made from an inactivated virus. This makes it safe for you and your baby during pregnancy. Avoid trying to get pregnant for four weeks after a vaccination with a nasal spray vaccine.
So, when should you get a flu vaccine? Now is a good time to start thinking about it. Flu season runs from November to April. Most cases hit between the end of December and early March. You can probably get the vaccine starting in September. It's best to do it as early as possible so you can head off any infections "at the pass." Getting the flu shot early gives your body time to build up immunity. This means it will protect you better against the flu.
If you haven't gotten the vaccine by December or so, or if it hasn't been available for some reason, still go ahead and get it when you can. Remember that the nasal mist vaccine is only for healthy, non-pregnant people who are between 2 and 49 years old.
If you do develop cough and cold symptoms, stop in to see us. We can help you select the best over the counter medications to help put you on the road to recovery.