Drugs and alcohol

Are your drugs delivering good value?

Written by Diane Archer

Two out of three adults, 131 million people in the United States, take prescription drugs. Almost half of all Americans have used at least one prescription drug in the last 30 days. But, many drugs we take may be unnecessary or simply not as good as other drugs. Are your drugs delivering good value?

If you’re an older adult or caring for a loved one, it’s especially important to take a fresh look at the drugs you’re taking on a regular basis. Adults over 65 represent almost 14 percent of the population but use 40 percent of all prescription drugs and 35 percent of all over-the-counter drugs. People between 65 and 69 use an average of 14 drugs a year. People between 80 and 84 use and average of 18 drugs annually. But, as much as 25 percent of drug use by older adults is thought to be unnecessary or inappropriate.

Consumer Reports offers free advice on “Best Buy” drugs for 23 conditions. It also shares its expertise on ways to help treat your condition apart from taking drugs. Talk to your doctor. You may save money by switching drugs. And you may be better off going off a drug altogether.

For example, for constipation, Consumer Reports recommends polyethylene glycol as most effective. You can find it in MiraLax. It’s an inexpensive drug that Consumer Reports says is “still the best constipation treatment.” Consumer Reports also recommends eating high fiber foods, such as fruits and vegetables, nuts and whole grains. And fiber supplements, particularly those containing psyllium, may also help.

For migraine headaches, Consumer Reports recommends triptans. However, Consumer Reports says that some people, including people with coronary artery disease, peripheral artery disease and angina should not take them because they narrow your blood vessels. So, talk to your doctor before taking them. Sumatriptan is a triptan that is available as a generic drug, so likely less expensive than other options.

Visit Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs to see which drugs and other treatments Consumer Reports recommends for asthma, allergies, high cholesterol, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis and more.

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