A recent post on the COPD-Support mail list reminds us to review our medications to be sure there are no adverse interactions among them. The possibility of negative interactions increases even when we add just one more medication to our arsenalsomething we sometimes do without much thought. Checking for possible adverse interactions becomes even more important if we get medications from different sources, because our pharmacists will not have a complete list of our medications. To make matters more complicated, supplements and over-the-counter (OTC) medications may also interact with our medications. We are reminded of the importance of reading all warnings labels. Keep in mind that there are degrees to which medications can adversely interact; some interactions are more dangerous than others. If you “screen” all of your meds and find some potential problems, be sure to talk to your doctor immediately about your discoveries. Also, don’t forget to inform your doctor of any OTC medications you take.
One of the more popular websites for checking drug interactions allows you to enter the names of your mediations to determine if any of them adversely interacts any other medication you use. Once your drug information is entered, be sure to follow the instructions for saving your medication list, otherwise you will have to start fresh each time you visit the site. To check your medications, visit http://tinyurl.com/yobegy
Drugs Herbs and Supplements
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has a website, MedlinePlus, that not only allows you to look up your medications, but also allows you to look up supplements and herbs and their interactions with medications. Their “Herbs and Supplements” section (below the drugs section) not only warns you of adverse interactions, but also provides information on the therapeutic claims, effectiveness of the herb or supplement, and usual dosage.
Be sure to read the warnings on all OTC medications before using them. This Family Doctor website gives you a good overview of OTC medications http://tinyurl.com/34k4sea
Drugs, OTC, Herbs and Supplements
The following Drug Digest website from ExpressScripts (a pharmacy benefits manager) allows you to look up prescription drugs, OTC drugs and even some herbs and supplements.
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The American Association of Respiratory Care (AARC) has a comprehensive, well-illustrated guide to Aerosol Drug Delivery. This 60 page guide, in pdf format, covers all types of delivery systems of inhaled medications, from metered dose inhalers, to nebulizers and devices for dry-powder inhalers. There is even has a chapter on maintenance and problem solving. The guide can be found at http://tinyurl.com/27ulxpe
Kaiser Health News reports that according to a number of news organizations, Health Net, Inc. (HNT), the Universal American Corporation (UAM), and Arcadian Health were told by Medicare to stop marketing to and enrolling Medicare beneficiaries in their Medicare Advantage and prescription drug plans until violations of regulations are corrected. To view the Kaiser report, visit http://tinyurl.com/3ytehh2
HealthLeaders Media reports on a study conducted by the American Medical Association (AMA) in which the AMA past president J. James Rohack, MD, is quoted as saying, “That according to the AMA study, 78 percent of physicians believe insurers use preauthorization requirements for an unreasonable list of tests, procedures and drugs.” The AMA survey reveals that physicians believe that patient care is burdened by delays that complicate and interrupt patient care as evidenced by their finding that
*the majority of physicians find a 20 percent rejection rate for first-time authorizations for drugs
The United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) has come up with a simple warning system for people with COPD to help them prevent their condition from becoming worse. Their service, called “Healthy Outlook” keeps an eye on weather conditions, virus levels, pollution levels and other factors to produce forecasts for their COPD patients. This service includes an automated warning call to alert patients when there is an expected risk of their symptoms becoming worse. For more information, visit the AboutMyArea website http://tinyurl.com/3699987
Telemedicine, a service that allows doctors and patients to teleconference instead of meeting in person, is becoming more popular. American Medical News (part of the American Medical Association) reports that in addition to helping patients in more remote areas or in communities with limited medical care, telemedicine is also able to link patients with specialists in large urban medical centers. The American Medical News article also points out, that in the future, telemedicine might help address the anticipated shortage of physicians. Telemedicine has already made strong inroads in the U.S. In 2009, for example, 300,000 people received telemedicine care through the Veterans Health Administration. For more information on the history and advances in telemedicine in the U.S. see http://tinyurl.com/2f38zlx
Telemedicine is becoming more popular in Scotland. The website eHealthNews.eu reports that the National Health Service is using “HomePods,” made by Telehealth Solutions, to monitor people with COPD and other lung conditions. The HomePod can monitor vital signs of individuals with COPD, and is believed to help them avoid hospitalization during the difficult winter months. For more information, please see http://tinyurl.com/36sekln
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released new regulations requiring health insurers to spend 80 to 85 percent of consumers’ premiums on direct care for patients and/or efforts to improve quality of care. This regulation, part of the Affordable Care Act, will make the insurance marketplace more transparent, therefore making it easier for consumers to compare plans. The regulation limits the amount insurance companies can spend on administrative costs, salaries, profits, overhead, and marketing. For more information, see the HHS news release at http://tinyurl.com/27vmcns
Ten years ago this month, the National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP) was formed by an amendment to the Older Americans Act. Family caregivers provide an estimated $375 billion each year in “free” service. To read more about NFCSP, which helps organizations reach out to the “caring” community rather than providing direct support, see http://tinyurl.com/2fye2l2
The Newsletter, like all the other endeavors of the Family of COPD Support Programs , is provided to you by COPD-Support, Inc. a non-profit member organization with IRS designation 501(c)(3). If you would like to be involved and help us provide these programs to the individuals who benefit from them, please consider joining us as a member. Further information is available at: http://copd-support.com/membership.html
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For comments and questions, or to contact Richard D. Martin, please send your email to: newsletter@COPD-Support.com
Until next Friday,
Richard D. Martin, Editor