Some drug samples are not so random
If your doctor's ever handed you a free sample of a prescription drug, don't feel special. In a recent year, drug companies passed out three-quarters of a billion samples to doctors, according to the Higuchi Biosciences Center and the Drug Information Center at Kansas University.
In 1999, physicians received an average of 1,500 samples apiece.
The good news about this practice is that it lets the doctor observe a new drug's effects and it gives patients access to the latest drugs.
A recent study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine showed that 49 percent of doctors surveyed said they'd used samples that were not their top choice to treat depression. Yet the practice of giving out samples lets the doctor try new things without incurring costs for the patient.
If you're taking samples, keep these points in mind. First look for the drug's expiration date on the package. Second, be sure your pharmacist knows when you're taking a sample so she can keep an eye on its possible interactions with other drugs you take.
Remember, too, that samples often come with hard-to-read information in fine print. So ask a physician, nurse or pharmacist about the specifics of dose and timing.
National speaker to kick off conference
Topeka Dr. Sylvia O. Richardson will present a historical review of the neurological basis of dyslexia Sept. 29 at a conference. Her keynote address will also review the evolution of successful remedial interventions.
Richardson is nationally and internationally known for her work in the evaluation and management of children with language-based learning disabilities and dyslexia.
Richardson's presentation will begin the seventh annual Fall Conference of the Kansas/Western Missouri Branch of the International Dyslexia Assn. to be held at the Ramada Inn Downtown, 420 S.E. Sixth Street, Topeka 66607.
Other presenters include: Jeanine Phillips, former director of Heartspring Learning Center, Wichita; Linda K. Swank, director of the Swank Educational Institute, Lawrence; and C. Wilson Anderson Jr., Educational Consultants of the Midwest, Savage, Minn.
The conference is open to anyone interested in dyslexia and learning disabilities. Registration is required. Costs vary.
Network helps find medication coverage
Millions of Americans lack adequate insurance coverage for prescription medications. The Patient Assistance Network is a volunteer organization that helps people find ways to cover some of the cost of their medication. They do this by helping people apply for rarely publicized drug manufacturers' assistance programs.
To learn more, contact the group at (800) 277-0530 or www.PatientAssistanceNetwork.org.