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A Less Expensive Substitute Prescription to Replace Advicor

Updated on September 30, 2017
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John was a Navy hospital corpsman. He worked the general sick bay, managed a carrier O.R., and treated heat rash, eczema, and dyshidrosis.

A 20mg lovastatin generic tablet and a 500 mg niacin capsule
A 20mg lovastatin generic tablet and a 500 mg niacin capsule | Source

Meds and Frugal Living

Advicor: Could There be a Less Expensive Alternative?

Years ago, I had a problem many of us experience. My blood work showed that I had too high of a bad cholesterol count and too low of a good cholesterol count. My physician tried several anti-cholesterol drugs, which I did not respond well to—they didn't do the job with each cholesterol.

The physician decided to prescribe Advicor. The drug improved both of my blood levels of cholesterol, and I was pretty happy with the results. There was only one problem. Advicor is a brand name drug and it had a copay of $40 with the insurance I had. Now that doesn't sound too bad, and in reality, if it is the only thing that will work for you, then it is money well spent. However, after reading about the drug on the internet, I discovered something interesting. Different strengths of Advicor are made of lovastatin and niacin.

ADVICOR 500 mg/20 mg — Iron Oxide Yellow, Iron Oxide Red.
ADVICOR 750 mg/20 mg — FD&C Yellow #6/Sunset Yellow FCF Aluminum Lake.
ADVICOR 1000 mg/20 mg — Iron Oxide Red, Iron Oxide Yellow, Iron Oxide Black.
ADVICOR 1000 mg/40 mg — Iron Oxide Red.

Advicor is made up of two drugs. It contains lovastatin, which lowers bad cholesterol, and flush-free niacin, which raises good cholesterol. I decided to discuss the drug with my pharmacist, who works at a large chain drugstore and has been very helpful to me in the past.

My pharmacist verified that the two drugs were what made up Advicor. So I decided to go to the doctor and see if I could be prescribed lovastatin (it costs only $4 for a month's supply) and niacin (60-count 500 mg over the counter flush free niacin) costing $6.00. Of course, how much you spend depends on dosing.

The doctor agreed to prescribe the medicine as I requested, first starting with one 20mg tablet of lovastatin and one 500 mg capsule of niacin. As you can see, my doctor prescribed the lowest dosage of Advicor. After one month, I went to a lab to have my levels checked. It turned out that the levels recommended had not yet been attained. So my doctor prescribed two tablets of lovastatin and 1000mg of flush free niacin. That corresponded to the highest dose of Advicor. One month later I had my levels checked and with great results. My bad cholesterol had dropped from 265 to 164, and my good cholesterol had risen to within 1 pt of the recommended level.

For those of you interested in the lab procedure, you will have to have your levels determined whether you use Advicor or lovastatin and flush free niacin. But the cost was what grabbed my attention. You probably have figured it out already, but the 60 count flush free niacin bottle lasts me one month ($6) and the lovastatin costs me $8. My particular insurance had a copay of $40 for the name brand Advicor. Now I was able to leave the pharmacy with a bill of $14. That is a $26 dollar savings!

As with any medical decision, you should talk to your physician and see if he/she agrees with what I am doing for such good results. Taking 4 pills a day instead of one is not a problem for me. But on a fixed income, $26 a month in savings is very helpful. If you are lucky enough to have insurance with lower copays, you might not save that much, but there are plenty of folks out there who might benefit from the lower cost! Again, you must determine the amount of lovastatin and niacin in consultation with your physician.

A Duexis pill containing 800 mg of ibuprofen and 26.6 mig of famatodine.
A Duexis pill containing 800 mg of ibuprofen and 26.6 mig of famatodine.

In the Same Vein

By coincidence, I recently found another drug when I hurt my lower back whose components can be obtained at a steep discount. Kneeling in the backyard and stretching to pull weeds and gather tree droppings, I suddenly felt a sharp pain in my back. I had no idea that I had done anything that would strain my back, but it sure did hurt. After carefully ambling my way into the house, I made an appointment to see a doctor.

At urgent care the physician evaluated me and prescribed Duexis. Duexis contains ibuprofen and famotidine. Each tablet contains for adults 800 mg of ibuprofen. The highest prescription dosage is 3200 mg per day (4 times a day). Each tablet also contains 26.6 mg of famotidine, an antacid. The drug in its combination is for osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. It contains an NSAID, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. Famotidine helps reduce the chance of a gastrointestinal upset and ulcer.

After consulting the urgent care physician, I made an appointment with my primary care physician. The urgent care doctor had given me several packets of Duexis samples, which were greatly appreciated. When I went back to the same clinic, I found out that Duexis would cost me $40 for a 30 day prescription. Then I went to see the primary care doctor.

My primary was a bit confused. She prescribed 800 mg tablets of ibuprofen for one month which cost me $4.00. She also handed me antacid tablets which she indicated would be just as helpful. Those were free, thankfully. The one item doctor's get from drug companies as samples in the largest quantities are antacid pills of various types. Modern life apparently stresses patients universally to the point of needing help reducing acid stomach.

If one wants to take ibuprofen with famotidine, there are 29 labels of famotidine I have found by Google search. Among them are brand names like Pepsid, Pepcid AC, Pepcid AC Maximum Stength, Pepsid RPD, and Mylanta AR. Most of these are generic over-the-counter drugs that are reasonably priced. Since all of these drugs can be purchased at the drug store, consult your physician about dosage.

So, if you are somehow prescribed Duexis, let your physician know that it is merely ibuprofen in a tablet with famatodine. This can save you quite a bit of money. You could walk away with a $4.00 purchase, depending on your health insurance, or perhaps as high as $8.00 for the ibuprofen and $8.00 for over-the-counter Pepcid. That is a $24 savings over what I might have paid. These prices were as of 9/25/2017. And it bears saying again, with variations in generic dosage, discuss with your doctor the proper dosage. Knowing the different strengths of over-the-counter famatodine generics will help your doctor.

Sources

Know More, Be Sure, https://www.drugs.com/duexis.html, reviewed last July 31, 2017

https://www.duexis.com/patient/about-duexis, Horizon Pharma USA, January 2017

Know More, Be Sure, https://www.drugs.com/famotidine.html, copyright 1996-2017, Cerner Multum, Inc. Version 13.01, Revision date 8/11/2014

WebMD, http://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-157344/duexis-oral/details/list-conditions, 2005-2017, WebMD, LLC.

© 2010 John R Wilsdon

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      John R Wilsdon 6 years ago from Superior, Arizona

      linda32 thanks for the comment. Drug companies and insurance companies have a lot of power. In that sense they are hard nuts to crack. But lowering drug costs is actually something that should be easy as evidenced by prices of drugs outside the U.S. and revelations in lots of documents. Perhaps competition with international pharmaceutical companies within our country is a good start. Let that free market work. Give people a choice.

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      linda32 6 years ago

      To cut the costs of prescription medications is a bit difficult, because it depends on:

      - manufacturing company

      - covering insurance

      - own pocket.

      The first too have difficulties in reaching low costs although the highest needs of the third one.

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      raharc 7 years ago

      Soundslike a smart idea. I use the niacia- Niaspan, shichis flush free 750 and it works well do not yet need the Lovostatin,but I am always looking for a way to reduce the costs of prescription medications.