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Ask The Pharmacist: Saving Money On Your Medications Without Putting Yourself At Risk

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Dr. Michael White, UConn School of Pharmacy

Last week on the Ask the Pharmacist segment, Dr Michael White for the UCONN School of Pharmacy discussed a number of ways that consumers can safely save money on their prescription medication. Today he is back with us to discuss cost cutting approaches that could put you or a loved one at risk.


We all like to save money but consumers shouldn’t be penny wise and pound foolish. The number one thing patients do to save money is simply stop taking their medications without their doctor’s knowledge or doing creative dosing. Creative dosing means things like only taking their medications every third day or cutting their pills and only taking half the dose.

For problems like heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes, there might not be symptoms of noncompliance until a heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, or hospitalization occurs and by then it is too late. We know from clinical trials in thousands of patients that certain medications, when dosed appropriately, can reduce the risks of severe diseases from occurring but they don’t work if you aren’t taking them. Certain drugs for anxiety, seizures, and heart problems have to be weaned off slowly and you can’t just abruptly stop them without having serious health issues.

Don’t buy drugs off Craig’s List or unregulated internet sites. The FDA has found many instances where the drugs contain little to no active ingredient or completely different ingredients. Doctor’s, Pharmacist’s, and the FDA strongly advise against buying medications from internet sites that don’t have the VIPPS seal, this is a seal guaranteeing that this is a Verfied Internet Pharmacy Practice Site.

Red yeast rice, the stuff that makes Tandori Chicken red, contains the same molecule as prescription drug lovastatin. So it does work to lower cholesterol but it is much more expensive than generic lovastatin. If you look at the websites, you would get the impression that because it is natural it is perfectly safe but we know that like lovastatin, it causes the same risk of liver and muscle issues and has drug interactions. Some natural remedies work but others do not or might be dangerous and it is very hard for consumers to figure out which ones are which. You need to let you doctor or pharmacist know what you are doing.


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