Heartburn is a common ailment that affects up to 20% of Americans at least once a week. Although its name may suggest otherwise, heartburn has nothing to do with the heart. It is an everyday term used to describe the burning sensation caused by stomach acid that has entered the esophagus, which feels like burning under the breastbone. In healthy people, a valve at the end of the esophagus normally works with gravity to prevent stomach acid from crossing from the stomach back into the esophagus. The valve opens to let food pass through from the esophagus to the stomach, but normally closes again after food passes by. In people who experience heartburn, the valve can remain open for longer than necessary, or it may not close tightly enough. This allows stomach acid to flow back up into the esophagus, causing a burning sensation. Some people can also experience heartburn simply caused by an overproduction of acid, due to stress, or eating a lot of acidic food, such as tomato sauce or coffee. Occasional occurrences of heartburn are not dangerous as the body can recover from infrequent episodes, but frequent occurrences can eventually cause damage to the esophagus. Therefore it is important to control heartburn if it is occurring regularly, to prevent damage to the esophagus.
What are Acid Reducers?
There are several classes of medications that can be used to treat heartburn. Occasional heartburn can often be successfully treated with antacids, or medications used to neutralize the acid in the stomach. These medications are available over the counter and can work quickly to reduce the level of acid in the stomach and relieve heartburn symptoms. Some examples of quick acting antacids include Tums, Mylanta, and Maalox. Consumers who are experiencing more frequent episodes of heartburn may need to have a discussion with their doctor to ensure they are using the proper medication for their condition based on their medical history and the severity of their situation. Prescribers commonly use one of two different types of medication to treat heartburn symptoms, histamine blockers or proton pump blockers. Histamine can contribute to excessive acid production in the stomach, so histamine blockers work by preventing excess histamine from being produced to decrease the level of acidity. An example of a commonly used histamine blocker is ranitidine, the generic form of Zantac. It is available both by prescription and over the counter. Other examples of histamine blocking medications that can be purchased with a prescription or over the counter include cimetidine and famotidine.
Proton pump inhibitors also contribute to a decrease in the acid production in the stomach, by preventing the stomach wall from pumping more acidic protons into the stomach. There are several common medications in this class, such as omeprazole, which is the generic form of Prilosec. Omeprazole is also available by prescription and over the counter. Other medications in this class that are available both by prescription and over the counter include lansoprazole, which is the generic form of Prevacid, as well as Nexium, which was recently approved for sale without a prescription.
Why Over Spend on Over the Counter Acid Reducers
Having medications over the counter and available by prescription can create confusing situations when consumers are trying to purchase the least expensive version of the medication they need. Insurance companies often do not cover medications that are over the counter, as they would prefer the consumer to buy the medication from the store instead of creating an insurance claim for the medication. This often results in consumers simply buying the medication over the counter, when it may not be the cheapest possible option. Buying a prescription medication from the pharmacy without insurance can be cheaper than purchasing the medication over the counter.
Discount cards such as the Prescription Discount Card from the Discount Drug Network can decrease the price of a prescription medication that is not covered by a consumer’s insurance company, and can be applied to medications that are purchased from the pharmacy with a valid prescription. Instead of buying the medication without a prescription, using the Prescription Discount Card to lower the price of the medication at the pharmacy can often result in a better deal than buying the over the counter version of the same product. For example, omeprazole 20mg purchased from a local hometown pharmacy would cost $21.99 for a 30 day supply if purchased over the counter without a prescription. If a prescription is obtained from the consumer’s doctor, it can be processed as a prescription by the pharmacy staff and the Prescription Discount Card can be applied to the price to receive a discount on the prescription version of the medication.
Applying the Prescription Discount Card for the same quantity of omeprazole 20mg would result in a cost of only $14.47, saving the consumer over $7 each month they need to take this product. Another example of cost savings that can be obtained by purchasing an over the counter medication from the pharmacy with a prescription can be seen with lansoprazole. This medication is another proton pump inhibitor used in the treatment of heartburn, and is the generic form of Prevacid. This medication, when purchased over the counter without a prescription, would cost $28.89 for a 30 day supply of the 15mg capsules at the local hometown pharmacy. The same medication, when processed as a prescription using the Prescription Discount Card to lower the price, comes out to only $22.31. When processing medications as a prescription, a doctor must sign off on the prescription in order to create a valid prescription.
The cost of seeing a doctor may need to be factored into the price of prescription medications, and those without any health insurance may not see a financial benefit in obtaining a prescription from the doctor for their medication. For patients with active health insurance, the possibility of utilizing a prescription for an over the counter item can be discussed with the consumer’s primary care doctor at an annual appointment, for example. When insurance companies don’t cover medications that have gone over the counter, discount cards such as the Prescription Discount Card from the Discount Drug Network come to the rescue to help patients with high drug costs. Depending on the pharmacy the consumer uses, discounts of 10-85% can be applied to both generic and brand name products. The Prescription Discount Card can be used in place of insurance, and is accepted at over 65,000 pharmacies nationwide. By using the simple online Drug Pricing tool, consumers can figure out what their costs will be when using the Prescription Discount Card for a specific product at the pharmacy of their choice before they go to the store. This allows users to compare the discounted price to their insurance copays in order to figure out the lowest price available to them, without even leaving the comfort of their own home. Consumers can also compare prices between pharmacies in their area, as prices can vary from pharmacy to pharmacy. Prices can vary significantly from pharmacy to pharmacy. Using the Drug Pricing tool to evaluate the price of ranitidine tablets as an example, 30 tablets of this medication would cost $7.84 using the Prescription Discount Card at a local independent pharmacy, but would cost $12.84 at a local division of a nationwide chain pharmacy in the Los Angeles area.
Shopping around to find the lowest drug price is necessary, more now than ever before. Since drug prices vary between pharmacies, due to different wholesalers used and contract pricing for specific products, medication prices can vary greatly from pharmacy to pharmacy. It is therefore up to the consumer to seek out pharmacies that offer the lowest prices for the drug products they take on a regular basis, to ensure they are getting the most out of their drug payments. While it may take a little extra work, the savings can be astounding. Using the Prescription Discount Card is simple and easy. Consumers can sign up to receive discounts on the Discount Drug Network’s website, discountdrugnetwork.com.
After signing up, the pharmacy billing information is given to the consumer, which they can print out and take to any local pharmacy. The discount card information can then be given to pharmacy personnel along with a prescription for processing in order to receive the discount. When prescription medications are moved to an over the counter status, out of pocket prices can increase since patients must pay more than the pharmacy’s price to purchase the product. In these situations, consumers can decide to seek alternative avenues to lower drug prices on their own. The Prescription Discount Card from the Discount Drug Network can help patients save money and get the medications they desperately need at a more affordable rate, allowing patients to continue on with necessary medical treatments.
The Prescription Discount Card is free for everyone, and can be used in place of insurance if the insurance copay is too high, or if the consumer does not carry prescription insurance. Consumers can easily sign up for the card at discountdrugnetwork.com and order a wallet card to carry this discount with them to use when it is needed most.