Prescription medications are expensive, especially the newer classes of allergy and asthma medicines. If you have health insurance with a pharmacy benefit, great!
But, if you're like me, and you don't have health insurance, then the cost of buying prescription medicines on your own can make you think twice about filling the prescription at all.
However, leaving your allergies and/or asthma untreated can be dangerous to your health. So, it's important to find a way to fill those prescriptions and keep refilling them too. Let's look at some options:
Filling Prescriptions Online
You've likely seen tons of ads online for filling prescriptions for various medicines, or even buying prescription medicines without a valid prescription. If you do this, it can be a dangerous practice. Here's why:
Some online medication vendors aren't ethical. You could end up with the wrong medicine, one of poor quality, or even a contaminated one. To see if an online pharmacy is a licensed pharmacy in good standing, contact the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (www.nabp.net, 847-391-4406).
You should never take a medicine without seeing a doctor first. Just filling out an online questionnaire is not enough. A doctor needs to examine you and talk to you in person to make sure the medicine is right for you and safe to use.
Another thing to look for when ordering online is the availability of a pharmacist to answer your questions and concerns. And steer clear of sites offering a miracle "cure" for allergies. At this time, nothing like that exists. You'll also want to avoid foreign pharmacies as it is illegal to import prescription medicine into the US.
What You Need to Know About Your Prescriptions
When your doctor writes for a new allergy medication prescription for you or your child, you need to find out all you can about the medicine and what it is supposed to do. Here are some sample questions you can ask your doctor, your doctor's nurse, and/or the pharmacist who fills the prescription:
- What should this medication do for me?
- Are there specific directions for how I should take the medication, such as in the morning, evening or with food?
- How soon should I start to feel better?
- How long should I keep taking the medication?
- What side effects should I look for and what should I do about them?
- Is there anything I should avoid while taking the medication (certain food, alcohol, sunlight)?
- What I forget to take a dose?
Prescription Assistance Programs
If you don't have health insurance that pays for prescriptions, you may qualify for one of the prescription assistance programs available from pharmaceutical companies.
According to the Mothers of Asthmatics Allergy & Asthma Network, the pharmaceutical industry gave away nearly $1.5 billion worth of prescription medicines to 3.5 million patients in 2001 through assistance programs.