Posted by: thematrix777 | February 26, 2009

Of Peppers and Pain

Capsaicin, the active ingredient in chili peppers, generally is viewed as an irritant that produces a burning sensation when applied to a sensitive area of the body, such as the cornea. Paradoxically, the same compound also may reduce pain.

Capsaicin creams are natural pain-relieving folk medicines, commonly found over the counter, and are effective for a variety of pain syndromes, from minor muscle or joint aches to those that are very difficult to treat, such as arthritis and neuropathic pain.

Scientists at University at Buffalo now link the analgesic effects of capsaicin to a lipid called PIP2 in the cell membranes.

Results of the research, headed by Feng Qin, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics in the University at Buffalo’s School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, appear Feb. 24 in the journal PLoS Biology.

Capsaicin works by stimulating a receptor on nerve endings in the skin, which sends a message to the brain and generates the sensation of pain. The receptor also senses heat, making chili peppers taste hot.

“The receptor acts like a gate to the neurons,” said Qin. “When stimulated it opens, letting outside calcium enter the cells until the receptor shuts down, a process called desensitization. The analgesic action of capsaicin is believed to involve this desensitization process. However, how the entry of calcium leads to the loss of sensitivity of the neurons was not clear.”

Previous research from the UB group and others implicated the significance of the PIP2 lipid. Calcium influx induces strong depletion of the lipid in the plasma membrane. By combining electrical and optical measurements, the authors now have been able to directly link the depletion of PIP2 to the desensitization of the receptor.

The authors also found that the receptor is still fully functional after desensitization. “What changed was the responsiveness threshold,” said Qin. “In other words, the receptor had not desensitized per se, but its responsiveness range was shifted. This property, called adaptation, would allow the receptor to continuously respond to varying stimuli over a large capsaicin concentration range.”

“Adaptation” is a property that is found in other sensory receptors, such as those in hearing and vision, and is identified in pain receptors as well.

The findings have implications for pain-sensation mechanisms as well as clinical applications, the authors note. With an adaptive response, the receptors are essentially auto-regulated without a fixed threshold. The intensity that causes pain is dependent on the history of activity.

Plasticity of pain is known at the central level. The study now shows that it may also be present at the peripheral site, although the sensation of pain is complex and involves many types of receptors and messengers. The lipid dependence of the receptor also will provide novel strategies for development of safe analgesics like capsaicin, a natural pain reliever, but with less irritation.

Jing Yao, Ph.D., a post-doctoral research student in the UB Department of Physiology and Biophysics, is second author on the paper.

The study was supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health.

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. The School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences is one of five schools that constitute UB’s Academic Health Center. UB’s more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.

** Note From the Desk of thematrix777:**

As anyone with RSD knows , one of our goals is desensitization. If this can be accomplished faster with the help of this cream  or something similar that would be great!

I use a capsaisan cream and boy does it work for me! My hand turns beet red just seconds after I put it on. The circulation increases right away but doesn’t last for long.

Talk to your doctor and if he gives you the OK,  give it a try. It can’t hurt!

A New Beginning

A New Beginning

Posted by: thematrix777 | November 22, 2008

Resident finds relief after 12 years of chronic pain

A puck-sized disk wired to his spine has freed Chris Todman from years of chronic, agonizing pain.

Now, the Burlington man wants the government to fund more operations for pain sufferers who need a device like his.

“It was life changing. Words will not describe it,” he said. “It will never be a novelty. I’ve gotten my life back after 12 years of not living.”

The 23-year-old suffered from Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD), which left him with a constant stabbing and burning pain in his right leg and left foot.

“I was very limited before. I spent most of my time in bed and didn’t socialize,” said Todman. “I couldn’t handle the pain.”

The precise causes of RSD are unknown, although it often follows an injury and there is no cure, it’s noted on the Canadian Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Network website ( www.canadianrsd.com).

However, a friend in Ottawa with RSD connected Todman with a doctor at Toronto Western Hospital. After various tests, the doctor suggested surgery.

“When he described the procedure, we were all very ecstatic. It was very exciting,” recalled Todman. “Then he dropped the bombshell that they don’t do many operations in Ontario, because there is no funding set aside for it. That put a big damper on things.”

But with his doctor’s help and after a review of his case history, Todman became one of the lucky few to get OHIP coverage for the surgery, which costs $15,000- $20,000.

Todman said four wires were implanted last November into spinal nerves verified as causing his pain.

In a second operation shortly afterwards, the disk was implanted in his lower left abdomen and connected to the wires.

Todman said the device sends a signal to his spine that replaces pain in his legs with tingling. He can increase impulses if he starts to feel pain.

“There’s pretty much no limit to what I could do, although I don’t lift anything too heavy,” he said.

Since the surgery, Todman has enjoyed playing paintball, spending more time with friends and helping his brother, Steve, build his house. Last summer, for the first time, he made the annual trip to the Canadian National Exhibition with his father, Jim, without needing a wheelchair.

Todman closed his dog biscuit making business earlier this year following a contract dispute, but is happy to be working full time at a food processing plant.

“It’s a line job and I’m on my feet a lot,” said Todman. “Before my surgery, I wouldn’t have been able to do it for nine hours a day.”

He will celebrate his first year of being pain free today (Friday) from 6-9 p. m. at Appleby United Church with family and friends.

He hopes teachers and classmates from his former high school, General Brock, can also drop by.

The family wants to raise awareness about Todman’s story and is encouraging others with pain problems to attend.

“A lot of it can be overcome. There’s hope out there,” said Jim. “There were times when Chris felt like giving up. There’s help, but unfortunately it’s not that accessible.”

Todman is involved with the Neuromodulation Coalition, which seeks improved access and government funding for devices like the one that helped him.

He was planning to participate with the coalition in a meeting this week on the issue with the Ontario Ministry of Health.

The family noted only 20 surgeries like Todman’s were performed across Canada last year.

“People are going to the United States so they can get it done. They can’t wait for it,” said Todman’s mother, Debbie. “This is a surgery they’ve been doing for 25 years, but they’re not doing as many now.”

She said many doctors didn’t understand her son’s problem and Jim added they tried a variety of things before the surgery.

“We went through every kind of treatment from acupuncture to witchcraft,” he said. “The worst thing ever is to watch your child in pain.”

Dennis Smith can be reached at dsmith@burlingtonpost.com .

****************************************************************************************************************************

A Message from the desk of thematrix777

This is one story  out of thousands. This man lived 12yrs of his life in bed, unable to live life in any sense of the word. All because of  RSD (Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy). This story has a happy ending; most do not. RSD is a chronic, progressive, neurological condition that spreads with time. It has destroyed many lives.

Those of us that suffer from this awful condition need help in finding a cure not a band-aide.  More research and development is needed and that takes people who care! Please join me in caring. Check out my blogs and others to find out what you can do to help. Thanks you.


Posted by: thematrix777 | October 22, 2008

Bounty of Hope Silent Auction (RSDA)

The Bounty of Hope Silent Auction and Dinner is the flagship fundraising event that enables RSDSA to fund research and launch awareness projects for healthcare professionals, people with complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), family, friends, and the general public.

This year’s event will be held on November 12, 2008, at The Union League Club, 38 East 37th St., New York City. For more information on tickets, click here.

Our dinner program will feature a section of listings in honor of special individuals. You can submit up to 15 words for $50. Submissions for In Honor listings are due by October 31, 2008. For more information on In Honor listings and tickets to the Bounty of Hope, click here.


We appreciate your generosity.

Posted by: thematrix777 | September 29, 2008

Duke Study Not Sweet on Splenda

This came from Consumer Affairs. I was thinking about all the medications most of us with chronic pain issues or RSD in particular take and thought I should post this warning. It’s very important to us!

thematrix777

Study finds Splenda contributes to weight gain, may cause other health problems

By Truman Lewis ConsumerAffairs.com

Lab Tests Point to Problems with New Sweetener

• Artificial Sweeteners Linked to Weight Gain
• FDA Should Reconsider Aspartame Cancer Risk, Say Experts
• EU Scientists Uphold Safety of Aspartame
• New Zealand Sours on Splenda Ads

A new Duke University study finds that the artificial sweetener
Splenda contributes to obesity, destroys beneficial inteestinal
bacteria and may interfere with absorption of prescription drugs.

It’s the latest in a continuing round of studies, claims and counter-
claims pitting artificial sweeteners against the powerful Sugar
Association, the lobbying group for the sugar industry, which financed
the Duke study.

McNeil Nutritionals, which manufactures Splenda, said the study’s
findings were “unsupported by the data presented” and said Splenda may
be safely used “as part of a healthy diet.” The study is scheduled to
be published in a forthcoming issue of The Journal of Toxicology and
Environmental Health. An advance copy appears on its Web site.

A Minneapolis-based group called Citizens for Health said the Duke
study demonstrates that Splenda is a health threat. The group, headed
by attorney Jim Turner, has been collecting consumer reports of side
effects supposedly caused by Splenda.

“The report makes it clear that the artificial sweetener Splenda and
its key component sucralose pose a threat to the people who consume
the product. Hundreds of consumers have complained to us about side
effects from using Splenda and this study … confirms that the
chemicals in the little yellow package should carry a big red warning
label,” said Turner.

Turner’s group has filed a petition with the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) calling on it to review its approval of sucralose
and to require a warning label on Splenda packaging cautioning that
people who take medications or have gastrointestinal problems avoid
using Splenda.

“The new study makes it clear that Splenda can cause you to gain
weight and lose the benefits of medications designed to improve and
protect your health. The FDA should not continue to turn a blind eye
to this health threat,” Turner said.

In February, a study published in Behavioral Neuroscience cites
laboratory evidence that the widespread use of no-calorie sweeteners
may actually make it harder for people to control their intake and
body weight.

McNeil and the Sugar Association have been waging war in the courts
and the public arena for years. In 2004, the association sued McNeil,
claiming it had misled consumers by claiming that Splenda was “made
like sugar, so it tastes like sugar.”

Splenda’s main ingredient — sucralose — is manufactured. The process
involves the use of a sugar molecule but there is no sugar in the
finished product.

The Duke study was conducted on rats over a 12-week period. A lead
researcher, Dr. Mohamed B. Abou-Donia, said the Sugar Association had
no input into the study’s findings.

Earlier study
In the February study, psychologists at Purdue University’s Ingestive
Behavior Research Center reported that compared with rats that ate
yogurt sweetened with sugar, those given yogurt sweetened with zero-
calorie saccharin later consumed more calories, gained more weight,
put on more body fat, and didn’t make up for it by cutting back later.

Authors Susan Swithers, PhD, and Terry Davidson, PhD, theorize that by
breaking the connection between a sweet sensation and high-calorie
food, the use of saccharin changes the body’s ability to regulate
intake. That change depends on experience.

Problems with self-regulation might explain in part why obesity has
risen in parallel with the use of artificial sweeteners. It also might
explain why, says Swithers, scientific consensus on human use of
artificial sweeteners is inconclusive, with various studies finding
evidence of weight loss, weight gain or little effect.

Because people may have different experiences with artificial and
natural sweeteners, human studies that don’t take into account prior
consumption may produce a variety of outcomes.

Three different experiments explored whether saccharin changed lab
animals’ ability to regulate their intake, using different assessments
– the most obvious being caloric intake, weight gain, and
compensating by cutting back…. Body temperature

The experimenters also measured changes in core body temperature, a
physiological assessment.

Normally when we prepare to eat, the metabolic engine revs up.
However, rats that had been trained to respond using saccharin (which
broke the link between sweetness and calories), relative to rats
trained on glucose, showed a smaller rise in core body temperate after
eating a novel, sweet-tasting, high-calorie meal. The authors think
this blunted response both led to overeating and made it harder to
burn off sweet-tasting calories.

“The data clearly indicate that consuming a food sweetened with no-
calorie saccharin can lead to greater body-weight gain and adiposity
(fat) than would consuming the same food sweetened with a higher-
calorie sugar,” the authors wrote.

The authors acknowledge that this outcome may seem counterintuitive
and might not come as welcome news to human clinical researchers and
health-care practitioners, who have long recommended low- or no-
calorie sweeteners. What’s more, the data come from rats, not humans.

However, they noted that their findings match emerging evidence that
people who drink more diet drinks are at higher risk for obesity and
metabolic syndrome, a collection of medical problems such as abdominal
fat, high blood pressure and insulin resistance that put people at
risk for heart disease and diabetes.

But why?

Why would a sugar substitute backfire?

Swithers and Davidson wrote that sweet foods provide a “salient
orosensory stimulus” that strongly predicts someone is about to take
in a lot of calories. Ingestive and digestive reflexes gear up for
that intake but when false sweetness isn’t followed by lots of
calories, the system gets confused. Thus, people may eat more or
expend less energy than they otherwise would.

The good news, Swithers says, is that people can still count calories
to regulate intake and body weight. However, she sympathizes with the
dieter’s lament that counting calories requires more conscious effort
than consuming low-calorie foods.

Swithers adds that based on the lab’s hypothesis, other artificial
sweeteners such as aspartame, sucralose and acesulfame K, which also
taste sweet but do not predict the delivery of calories, could have
similar effects.

Finally, although the results are consistent with the idea that humans
would show similar effects, human study is required for further
demonstration.

Posted by: thematrix777 | November 14, 2009

Yes, We Noticed! htt

Yes, We Noticed! http://htxt.it/gfiF

Posted by: thematrix777 | November 14, 2009

“Recanvassing shows

“Recanvassing shows NY-23 race tightens even as Rep Bill Owens is sworn into House seat http://htxt.it/VNka #teaparty #hoffman #NY #icaucus “

Posted by: thematrix777 | November 14, 2009

http://htxt.it/w4ul

http://htxt.it/w4ul

Posted by: thematrix777 | October 2, 2009

Is this Really the Change We Want in Healthcare?

As the meetings  on the hill continue, the news is bleak. I know we want change in the flaginsurance industry. I want change! I DO NOT want the complete system blown up. All of it is not broken. This country cannot afford the major overhaul the Democrats are trying to do; and it’s not necessary.

I want tort reform, the ability to buy insurance from ANY state with no pre-existing condition clauses. Cut out the abuse and fraud and most importantly PROSECUTE them when they are uncovered.

Stop lawyers from making a fortune with frivolous lawsuits against doctors. You see them on commercials every day hawking their wares. Where there is wrong, of course a remedy should be available.  But, come on……we have all seen these ads looking for clients just to justify a huge lawsuit. The ridiculous amounts awarded  which in turn drives up insurance premiums for everyone.  So, don’t for one minute this healthcare debate does not involve you! If you live in the US; if you buy health insurance for your family; if you need medicine. Where do you think the money comes from to pay off these huge settlements where only a few select people profit? It comes from all of us because the costs are passed on to the consumer by charging US higher rates! And, lastly

NO ONE should be forced to buy healthcare against their will.

Below is the story of one state. Multiply this nightmare by 52.

State of Washington

So you’re a state employee in Washington State and you’re lying there on the operating table waiting for your heart surgeon to unblock a clogged artery with a stent. That doctor may think the best kind of stent for you is one that is drug coated. Studies show it improves the quality of life for recipients. But it also costs about $2,000. more than the standard bare metal stent or BMS. A panel of 11 health care professionals has decided that the state will only cover the cost of the drug coated stent in the worst cases where re-blockage is deemed likely. So your doctor doesn’t have a choice. You’re getting the BMS.

This scenario is a glimpse into what some would like to see happen across the United States. In fact, in the stimulus bill Congress set aside $1.1 billion to create a Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research. Supporters say it’s good public policy and will reduce the spiraling cost of health care. Opponents call it rationing and government interfering with the doctor-patient relationship.

In Washington State the Health Technology Assessment group has made a half dozen binding decisions and several have been controversial. The panel decided to not cover a virtual colonoscopy because it is more expensive and no more informative than a regular optical colonoscopy. Many health care professionals believe that because the virtual test is less invasive it would encourage far more people to get screened for colon cancer. But the panel went with a survey that showed only a marginal increase and decided that wasn’t worth the extra cost.

One of the doctors on the panel compared it to grocery shopping. “You may want filet mignon, but you can’t afford it,” says Dr. Brian Budenholzer. “At some point, we will have no choice but to look at health care services and ask, ‘Are they good value or not?’ Around 750,000 Washingtonians; those state workers, Medicaid recipients and people on workers comp are now officially eating chicken.

(Article by Dan Springer)
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Posted by: thematrix777 | July 13, 2009

A Close Up Look at Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy

This is one option available for RSD. It is not a cure, only a temporary lowering of the pain so the patient may be able to cope better.

Please take a few minutes of your time to watch the video and see what over a million people suffer from daily.

Thanks,
thematrix777

Posted by: thematrix777 | June 16, 2009

Can Diet Help with Chronic Pain?

anb125x125adFINALMELONYThe reason I was asking myself this question is two-fold.

The first one has to do with the fact I had the flu twice this season and both times I pretty much stopped eating (for the obvious reasons).

After I got over the flu and started eating normal again, I noticed my RSD symptoms returned full force. I began to wonder why?

“How come when I wasn’t eating much besides crackers and Pepto Bismol my RSD got better and when I started eating  my RSD symptoms felt worse?”

After researching other RSD support sites, I came across a post that is a perfect fit for this subject.

So I decided to post it here and see what you, my readers, think.

*****************************************************************************

From the desk of thematrix777:

On the recommendation of somebody on the message board (I forget who, sorry!), I tried the RSD diet that cuts out certain anti-inflammatory foods–no gluten, no added sugar (i still ate tons of fresh fruit), no processed foods (I eat almost nothing processed anyway), and no caffeine or alcohol. I tried it for three weeks in advance of a vacation where i knew I’d be doing more walking than usual.

Well, I stuck to the diet, my pain was noticeably reduced, and the vacation went so, so well. I walked everywhere, and my pain, mostly mild, was mainly limited to the evening, after a long day of being far more active than I’m used to, and only on the second to last day (of five days) did I feel enough “foot fatigue” to make me cut down on the walking.

“At one point I remember wondering if I was actually getting better–an insane thought for someone who has had RSD for seven years”.

But I went back to eating gluten, sugar, caffeine, and alcohol), hoping the reduction in pain was in answer to vitamins and the desensitization exercises I’ve been doing.

Well, after about two weeks of my regular diet, my pain has gone right back up. it had gotten to where it only hurt when i was walking–my pain when not weight-bearing was miraculously low–but now i’m back to having pain when sitting.

Bottom line: I’m not prescribing this diet to other sufferers, and it may or may not have to do with my reduction in pain, but I’m going back on it. I thought it might be food for thought for other RSD’ers.

Posted by: thematrix777 | March 27, 2009

Trigger Point Injections and Me!



.hmmessage P {margin:0px;padding:0px;} body.hmmessage {font-size:10pt;font-family:Verdana;} To My Readers:

This is a three-part series involving my latest treatment for my RSD.

The treatment is called “Trigger Point Injections”.


There is no “cure” Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD) .


The top picture is what I looked like
BEFORE I got RSD (Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy). I was a successful, independent software contractor making a 6 figure salary. So basically, I was very happy…….

On Jan 8, 2005 my whole life changed. That was the day of my hand surgery, and my life has never been the same.

I had to stop working (forced retirement) and file for disability (SSDI) because I could no longer function without my right hand! A few months later, I lost some use of my left hand too.. and then my legs stopped working. So now I’m confined to a wheelchair.


“So my wages went down to approx $1,000 a month. NO ONE can live on that. But I had to; I had no choice!

Remember: I was the sole support of my family……Talk about a stressful situation, this was it!” I cried every night wondering how I could ever find the money to feed my family. I even went to a contract meeting with a client, in a cast, and pretended I was fine, even though inside I was screaming with white, hot searing pain.

In the end, I just could not take the contract. There was just no way I was going to be able to bluff my way through and give the client what he paid for.


RSD tends to spread and mine was no different!!!! It spread like a wildfire!

Nothing would stop it …until Tuesday, March 24, 2009, when I got my first “Trigger Point Injection”…………..
.

Thank GOD for Dr.Kenneth Hampar, M.D. at the Pain Institute of Nevada

Picture #2 AFTER I got RSD. It’s a picture of my right hand. Does it look like a hand? Nope. It doesn’t. And it didn’t work like one either……….

Now, I can’t wait for the day when I don’t have to have help with cutting up my food; cooking, cleaning, helping me bathe, brush my teeth, brush my hair………etc.

The list can go on forever……..but you get the picture. I feel like a baby. Its humiliating……

I want some self-reliance. I want my pride back. I want to not be so foggy that I fall asleep with food in my mouth from so much pain medicine.

Treatment schedule:


1st Trigger Point Injection: March 24, 2009

2nd Trigger Point Injection: March 31, 2009

1 mo Followup:

I hope you will join me. I am very excited, especially after the first shot.

I have NO PAIN in my RIGHT HAND! (hint: that is the original site of the RSD)

Please remember: No treatment works the same for everyone. It seems to have worked on my hand, at least the first shot did.

How long will it last? I don’t know.

You will know when i know.

Will the 2nd one work to sever the pain cycle forever? I don’t know…

I have all of these questions and more . I’d love you to find out with me. My next shot is Tuesday. I will be writing the next update the. Hope to see you soon.

thematrix777

Posted by: thematrix777 | March 23, 2009

Windows Live Hotmail

GOOD NEWS!

The National Pain Care Policy Act 2009, S.660

has been introduced in the Senate!

URGENT ACTION REQUESTED:

CONTACT YOUR SENATORS TO REQUEST THEIR CO-SPONSORSHIP OF THE NATIONAL PAIN CARE POLICY ACT of 2009, S.660

The National Pain Care Policy Act of 2009, H.R. 756 has been in the House of Representatives since January of this year. It is currently pending the full vote of the House.

This bill has now been introduced in the Senate thanks to the efforts of Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT). With this important bill now in both houses of Congress it is imperative that your Senators hear from you. 

Let your voice be heard! Take Action Now, inform your Senators that you are concerned about the hidden pain epidemic in our country and as a resident of their state you are requesting their support as a co-sponsor.

To view the National Pain Care Policy Act of 2009, S.660, please click here.

Please TAKE ACTION by sending a letter to your Senator urging their immediate support for this important legislation! Our Online Advocacy Center will send your message for you. It is quick and easy, just click here to TAKE ACTION!

There is strength in numbers!

Encourage others

To TAKE ACTION!

Forward this message to a friend!

Thank you for being part of this united effort to eliminate the under-treatment of pain in America.

Posted by: thematrix777 | March 21, 2009

10 Ways to Save on Prescription Drugs

“She went cold turkey and stopped taking all of them,” said Rodman, an internist at Sarasota Memorial Hospital in Florida. “What’s so sad is that she assumed that since some of her medicines were expensive, all of them were. If she’d just kept taking her Coumadin [a blood thinner], which is like $5 a month, she likely wouldn’t have had the stroke.”

Rodman says this woman isn’t his only patient who, faced with tough economic times, has stopped taking his or her medications. “There are lots of examples of this, and I fear there will be more,” he said.

A new report from Consumer Reports finds that many Americans are having trouble affording their prescription drugs and have taken dangerous steps as a result.

The survey, released this week, found that 28 percent of Americans have taken steps such as not filling prescriptions, skipping dosages and cutting pills in half without the approval of their doctor, and even sharing prescriptions with a friend.

“The cost of health care is leading consumers to cut corners in ways that are potentially dangerous,” said Dr. John Santa, director of the Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center.

Prices for prescription drugs are skyrocketing. In 2007, Americans spent $287 billion on prescription drugs, about five times as much as in 1993, according to Consumer Reports.

If you think you’re immune from these price increases because you have prescription drug insurance, think again.

In 2002, Consumer Reports found that 65 percent of the drugs they surveyed were mostly or entirely covered by insurance. When they asked about the same drugs in 2008, only 33 percent were covered mostly or entirely, and 5 percent of purchases weren’t covered at all. Read Consumer Reports’ article: America’s best drugstores


The good news, Santa says, is that there are ways for everyone to save money on prescription drugs. Here are 10 tips. The first one might have kept Rodman’s patient from having a stroke.

1. Tell your doctor you can’t afford the drugs he’s prescribing.

According to the Consumer Reports survey, only 4 percent of those polled said they’d had a conversation with their doctors about the cost of a drug. You shouldn’t hesitate to talk to your doctor about prices; these days, many people can’t afford the skyrocketing price of prescription drugs.

“There’s such an embarrassment level,” Rodman said. “They stop taking the drugs, and they never tell me why.”

2. Ask your doctor whether there’s a generic that would work just as well.

It’s amazing how much money you can save with this one little question. For example, if your doctor prescribes Lunesta, a sleeping pill, you could end up paying about $93 for 15 doses. Switch to zolpidem, which is the generic form of Ambien, and you’ll pay $33 for the same number of doses, according to Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs.

To make it really easy, bring in a list of the $4 generics sold at your local pharmacy and hand it to your doctor. If there isn’t a generic that will work for your particular problem, ask whether there might be a less-expensive brand name available. Santa suggests wording it like this: “Can you tell me about other options that would cost me less?”

3. Ask the pharmacist for less-expensive alternatives.

If you didn’t get a good answer from your doctor, ask your pharmacist whether there’s a less-expensive drug in the same class as the one your doctor prescribed.

4. Use mail order.

You’ll save money. Of course, this won’t work when you need medicines immediately (for example, antibiotics for an infection), but mail order often works well for medicines you need to take long-term.

5. Find a prescription assistance program.

There are several out there to help people who can’t afford their prescription drugs. Consumer Reports has advice on choosing a prescription assistance plan.

6. Be suspicious of free samples.

Samples are indeed enticing. But what a lot of people don’t know is that samples are often for the most expensive drugs on the market. Although the samples will help you out for a month or two, after that, you’ll have to start forking over the big bucks by yourself. For more information, see this Empowered Patient on free samples.

7. Don’t push for what you see on TV.

Just as samples are often for the pricey drugs, TV commercials are also often for pricey drugs — and drugs that don’t necessarily work any better than cheaper alternatives. If you ask for what you see on TV, there’s a chance your doctor might prescribe it — and you’ll get sticker shock at the pharmacy.

8. Split drugs with caution.

Sometimes you really can save money by asking your doctor to prescribe a double dosage of a drug and then splitting the pills in half. But there are safe and unsafe ways to split drugs, and some drugs should never be split at all. See Consumer Report’s guidance on splitting drugs.

There’s a flip side to this. Let’s say you’re taking 10mg of a drug, and it’s not working, so your doctor ups your dose to 20 mg. Don’t take two of the 10mg pills, warns Dr. Robert Epstein, chief medical officer at Medco, a prescription drug insurance company. That’ll end up costing you money, because you’ll go through your drugs twice as fast. “Instead, ask for a single pill that has the higher strength,” Epstein advised.

9. If you don’t have insurance, shop around.

Pharmacies sometimes charge very different prices for the same drugs. In fact, Consumer Reports found that prices for the same bottle of pills can vary by more than $100.

10. Ask for a review.

You may be taking medicines you don’t need, especially if you see a variety of doctors who don’t talk to one another about what they’re prescribing. “Bring your drugs in to one doctor and say, ‘Do I need to be taking all these?’ ” Epstein said.

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If you’ve tried to talk to your doctor about prices and received a confused look, it’s worth trying again, Rodman says, because the bad economy has forced doctors to become more knowledgeable about saving money for their patients.

“Two years ago, I couldn’t tell you the cost of most of the medicines I prescribed,” Rodman said. “Now I can.”

CNN’s Jennifer Pifer Bixler and Marcy Heard contributed to this report.

Posted by: thematrix777 | March 16, 2009

National Pain Care Policy Act Advancing to House Floor

Finally, some good news for everyone who is suffering from chronic pain!

HR 756 was introduced in the House of Representatives by Congresswoman Lois Capps (D-CA) Congressman Mike Rogers (R-MI) early in the 111th Congressional Session.

The Pain Bill is currently out of the House committee and may go to the House floor in the next few weeks.

The time is critical for the pain community to show its support for this legislation, and APS urges its members to write or call their respective House member requesting their co-sponsorship of HR756.

The more support and momentum we can show coming out of the House, the stronger our hand will be the Senate.

Please take a moment to voice your support by contacting your representative.

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