DCA is Here to Help All Year Long

Just because National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW) has ended doesn’t mean you aren’t protected. As #NCPW2017 wraps up, DCA wants to remind consumers that our resources and programs are available any time of year. This past week, we’ve shared details on many of them.

An informed consumer is a protected consumer: consider yourself empowered! Learn more at www.dca.ca.gov.

Also, see our complete list of free publications at www.dca.ca.gov/publications/publications_list.shtml, subscribe to our award-winning magazine, Consumer Connection, and follow us on Facebook and on Twitter @DCAnews.

Male Contraception Study Cut Short

syringeA male contraception study, cosponsored by the United Nations and commissioned by the World Health Organization, was recently stopped after it was concluded that the drug caused too many side effects.

The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, tested the safety and effectiveness of a contraceptive shot that was administered every eight weeks to 320 healthy men in different countries around the world. The trial was initially considered successful after it significantly decreased sperm counts. However, after Stage II of the three-stage trial, a number of men dropped out of the study, citing side effects such as acne, mood swings, depression, muscle pain, and increased libido. Researchers decided to stop the trial early in the interest of patient safety. A survey of patients who didn’t drop out found that most would use the product if it were available.

The premature halt of the study has caused some experts to draw comparisons with the side effects experienced by those women who use female birth control. It has also caused some raised eyebrows from women, who have been dealing with the side effects of FDA-approved birth control methods for decades. To learn more about contraception options and their possible side effects, women should talk to a qualified health care professional. (You can check the license of a doctor at the Medical Board’s website at www.mbc.ca.gov or a pharmacist at the Board of Pharmacy’s website at www.pharmacy.ca.gov.)

Despite the sudden halt to the male contraception study, there are still plans to successfully bring a male contraceptive drug to the market. According to an NPR report, future trials with different, safer levels of hormones, as well as possibly alternative ways to administer the drug, such as via a gel or an implant, are in the works.

 

 

Fight the Resistance! Get Smart About Antibiotics Week: November 14–20

get-smart-about-antibiotics-weekHere’s a quick quiz: Do antibiotics fight bacteria, viruses, or both? Which illnesses should be treated with antibiotics: strep throat, whopping cough, bronchitis? Bacteria are germs that cause colds and flu—true or false?

You can find the answers to these questions on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website; the CDC’s Get Smart About Antibiotics Week is November 14–20. The week’s activities are about raising awareness of the enormous and growing threat of antibiotic resistance and how we—patients and healthcare providers—can all fight the resistance.

After decades of misuse and overuse, antibiotics are no longer as effective as they once were. The Board of Pharmacy (Board) states, “This is a big problem, and is a major public health threat within hospitals and communities—wherever antibiotics are used.”

antibiotic-resistance

According to the Board, one of the most effective ways to protect yourself against drug resistance and to stop its spread is to not insist on getting antibiotics when your doctor doesn’t prescribe them. Also, don’t save antibiotics from a previous illness. When you’re prescribed antibiotics, take them exactly as directed. And never take antibiotics prescribed for someone else. Take preventative steps as well, such as keeping up with your vaccinations, washing your hands, and effectively managing symptoms to feel better versus taking antibiotics.

For more information on Getting Smart About Antibiotics Week, go to the CDC website at www.cdc.gov/getsmart and the Board’s website at www.pharmacy.ca.gov.

 

It’s Not Just About Generics: Saving Money on Prescription Drugs

shutterstock_385954984The generic version of a two-pack of EpiPen is now priced at $300—a price that’s better than the brand-name cost of $600 for this widely used allergic-reaction antidote. Buying the generic versus the brand-name is definitely the first step in saving money on your meds, but what else can you do to combat rising drug prices?

You may have more control over what you pay for drugs than you think. According to a January 2016 article by Consumer Reports, prices from retailers, especially large retailers like chain drugstores and big-box stores, can vary greatly. Shop around because drug prices can cost as much as 10 times more from one retailer to the next. Also, don’t avoid independent drugstores—they may actually have more flexibility to beat their competitor’s prices.

Surprisingly, drug prices are negotiable, so ask for a lower price—even with generics. Check sites such as GoodRx.com to do some comparison shopping and to also find out the fair market price. The website also gives you information about coupons, discounts, and how to save money at nearby pharmacies.

Be sure to ask your doctor to help you find a lower-cost alternative and have he or she give you a prescription for a 90-day supply versus 30 days, which can save you money as well. A 90-day supply allows you to pay one copay for 90 days instead of one for every 30, plus it saves you extra trips to the pharmacy.

This next tip may sound counterintuitive, but may be worth checking out. You may not want to always use your insurance to pay for your prescription drugs; you may get a better price if you pay out of pocket and if you sign up for a pharmacy’s discount plan (but read the fine print to understand all terms and conditions).

Check online for lower prices—with caution. Be very careful about which online pharmacy you choose—there’s plenty of fraud out there. Only do business with online pharmacies that display the VIPPS symbol—that indicates it’s a Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Site. Remember, if the price sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Some drug companies and foundations offer financial assistance programs. Check Needymeds.org, a national nonprofit information resource that can help you locate assistance programs so you can afford your medications and other healthcare costs.

To learn more about how to save money when buying prescription drugs and for resources for medication discounts, visit the State Board of Pharmacy’s website at www.pharmacy.ca.gov.

Get it While it’s Hot: Check out the Summer Issue of Consumer Connection

Summer’s not over yet. There’s still time to take a road trip to one of California’s manyConsumer connection summer 2016 state parks. From beaches and deserts to redwood forests and mountain summits, California parks offer a variety of amazing and beautiful sites to explore. The Consumer Connection article “Time for a Road Trip!” details 10 state parks—including Angel Island, Marshall Gold Discovery, Humboldt Redwoods, and Crystal Cove—to consider for your next destination, and ways to make sure your car is as ready for the trip as you are.

Also inside this issue is an article about the recently enacted California End of Life Option Act. The new law provides legal guidelines on how terminally ill adults can choose to die in a humane and dignified manner.

Readers will also find features about the recent trend of more Americans choosing to rent instead of buying a home, dealing with the repo man, the dangers of DIY braces, wills versus living trusts, the dangers of buying from a rogue online pharmacy, and more.

To download or read DCA’s award-winning Consumer Connection magazine, visit the DCA website. You can also pick up a printed copy in the DCA Headquarters lobby at 1625 North Market Boulevard in Sacramento. Or, to have a copy mailed to you at no charge, call (866) 320-8652 or send an e-mail request to consumerconnection@dca.ca.gov. Get connected!

 

Five Things You Can Do During National Safety Month to Curb Prescription Painkiller Abuse

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June is National Safety Month, an excellent time to learn more about safety issues such as prescription painkiller abuse. According to the National Health Information Center, prescription painkiller overdoses are a growing problem in the United States, especially among women. About 18 women die every day from a prescription painkiller overdose— more than four times higher than in 1999.

  1. Watch the California State Board of Pharmacy’s video  which warns of the dangers of prescription drug abuse.
  2. Check the expiration date on your medicines.
  3. Keep track of your medications, safely dispose of unwanted medications.
  4. Don’t purchase or use any controlled prescription drugs obtained from illegal websites. They could be counterfeit or may not contain the correct ingredients. They may even be toxic.
  5. Get help if you or someone you love is abusing prescription pain medications.

Visit these sites for more information:

California State Board of Pharmacy
Information on prescription drug abuse prevention and treatment for teens, students, parents and educators.

The Partnership for a Drug-Free America
Comprehensive information, resources and tips from experts and other parents; opportunities to connect and share experiences with other families.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
Part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Provides information, statistics and articles on improving the quality and availability of drug and alcohol addiction treatment.

SAMHSA’s National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information (NCADI) 1-877-SAMHSA7
Part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: A resource for federal government agency publications dealing with alcohol and drug use prevention and addiction treatment.

SAMHSA’s Center on Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT)
1-800-662-HELP
Part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Toll-free treatment referral hotline provides callers with information and listings of treatment and recovery services for alcohol and drug problems.

DEA Drug Take-Back is Saturday, Sept. 27

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Keeping prescription drugs out of the wrong hands is one of the goals of this Saturday’s DEA Drug Take-Back.

Last year in California, more than one billion hydrocodone pain pills were dispensed – that’s enough for a month’s supply for every California adult. Many of those narcotics are no longer needed and may be stored in easily accessible medicine cabinets where visitors and teens can easily obtain them to get high.

The DEA’s twice-yearly Drug Take-Back is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., this Saturday, September 27, 2014. The event allows you to safely dispose of those pain pills and other unused, unwanted and expired prescription drugs at a location near you.

During the last Drug TakeBack event in April, the three DEA field divisions in California collected 78,495 pounds of prescription drugs.

For more information on the program, CLICK HERE

For a TakeBack location near you, please contact your county supervisor’s office.

DEA Drug Take-Back is April 26

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Guest Author:
Joyia Emard
Public Information Officer
California State Board of Pharmacy

Get unused and unwanted drugs out of your homes where they may end up in the wrong hands and be abused.

The family medicine cabinet is where many teens get prescription medications that they use to get high. Prescription drug abuse is a national epidemic and more people are dying from it than from car accidents.

Saturday, April 26, marks the eighth DEA National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. The twice-yearly event aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the public about the potential for abuse of medications.

Hundreds of locations throughout the state will accept unneeded and expired prescription drugs, including controlled substances, for safe and legal disposal.

The collection of these drugs helps prevent diversion, misuse and abuse and ensures the safe destruction of unwanted prescription drugs. To date more than 1,733 tons of unneeded medications have been collected and disposed of nationally. For a drug take back location near you, go to http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback/.