Cooper Drug Store Blog

Choosing the right cough medicine

Thursday, December 12 2013 8:34 PM - by Brett Kappelmann

As we trudge along through cold and flu season, I am frequently asked about cough medicine.  What is the best cough medicine available?  What are the different types of cough medicine?  Are the over-the-counter cough medicines any good?  Cough medicine and cough syrups are available over-the-counter in three different types: cough suppressants, oral expectorants, and topical (externally applied) drugs.

            If you were to walk into my store and ask about choosing a cough medicine, the first question I would ask you would be if the cough is productive or not.  A productive cough produces mucous and secretions.  A nonproductive cough is also known as a dry, hacky cough.  Based upon the type of cough you have will depend on the best type of cough medicine to use.

For a productive cough, usually a medicine that contains guaifenesin is the best approach.  Guaifenesin is an oral expectorant that works by thinning the mucous, making it easier to cough up.  If you have a productive cough you usually do not want to suppress it, because coughing up mucous and secretions is your body’s natural way to clear the airways.  Guaifenesin works the best if you take it with plenty of water, because the water will work with the guaifenesin to thin the mucous.  You can find guaifenesin in many cough medicines.  Two of the most common guaifenesin-containing cough medicines are Robitussin and Mucinex.  Robitussin comes in syrup form, is inexpensive, but is shorter acting.  Mucinex comes in tablet form, is more expensive, but can last for up to twelve hours.

For a nonproductive, dry, hacky cough, a cough suppressant is usually the best choice for therapy.  Cough suppressants relieve your cough by blocking the cough reflex.  The most common ingredient that you will find as a cough suppressant in over-the-counter formulations is dextromethorphan, or DM.  Codeine is considered the gold standard of cough suppressants, but is mostly available in prescription form due to its abuse potential.  Delsym is a popular choice as an over-the-counter cough suppression therapy because it contains dextromethorphan in a long acting (twelve hour) formulation.

Many OTC cold and cough syrups and cough medicines contain a cough suppressant (dextromethorphan) plus an expectorant (guaifenesin) along with other cold medicines and pain relievers. The combination cold and cough medicine may contain an antihistamine, a decongestant, and a pain reliever in addition to the cough suppressant and/or expectorant. The combination of medicines may give optimal relief if you have multiple cold symptoms, such as body aches, coughs, and congestion. The downside of the combination cold medicines is that you may be taking medication that you don’t need, depending on your symptoms.

            Topical products that contain camphor and menthol are also used to relieve cough.  These natural, aromatic cough medicines are rubbed on the throat and the chest. The anesthetic action of their vapors is thought to ease coughing and soothe stuffiness from a cold.

            In summation, this is a simple breakdown of cough therapy.  There are many other factors that must be considered when choosing the most appropriate cough therapy.  Factors such as drug-drug interactions, age restrictions, and conflicting medical conditions must be considered.  As always, ask your doctor or pharmacist if it unclear as to the most appropriate medication to choose.

Flu Shots to Again be Offered in Downtown Augusta at Cooper Drug Store

Thursday, August 22 2013 4:57 PM - by Brett Kappelmann

 

With fall right around the corner, flu season is just a couple months away.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone over the age of 6 months should be vaccinated against the flu each year in the fall.  You can get your flu shot at your doctor’s office or even at your pharmacy.  We are proud to announce that for the second year, flu shots will soon be available at your local independent pharmacy in downtown Augusta.  There will be no cost to Medicare Part B beneficiaries since the flu shot is covered at 100% annually.  We will even take care of the billing for you!  We will bill private insurances if covered.  For the noninsured, the cost will be just 27 dollars. 

I am also excited to let you know that we have improved our service from last year by having an immunizer on staff every minute our doors are open for business, with only a few exceptions.  Our two immunizers will be pharmacist Rachel Henman, who served as a mass immunizer with a chain pharmacy for several years before joining the Cooper Drug team, and Mallory Paradis, a certified immunizer and pharmacist who joined our team in July.  Along with flu shots, we are also able to administer other vaccinations as well, such as shingles and pneumonia vaccines.  We will also be holding flu shot clinics in several locations including our local area senior centers in Augusta, Douglass, Leon, and Rose Hill in late September and early October.  Please call us at 775-2289 for questions.  We appreciate your support to your local, independent pharmacy. 

Why should people get vaccinated against the flu?  Influenza is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death. Every flu season is different, and influenza infection can affect people differently. Even healthy people can get very sick from the flu and spread it to others. Over a period of 31 seasons between 1976 and 2007, estimates of flu-associated deaths in the United States range from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people. During a regular flu season, about 90 percent of deaths occur in people 65 years and older. The “seasonal flu season” in the United States can begin as early as October and last as late as May. 

During this time, flu viruses are circulating in the population. An annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to reduce the chances that you will get seasonal flu and lessen the chance that you will spread it to others. When more people get vaccinated against the flu, less flu can spread through that community.

How do flu vaccines work?  Flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination. These antibodies provide protection against infection with the viruses that are in the vaccine.  The seasonal flu vaccine protects against three influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season.

Three kinds of influenza viruses commonly circulate among people today: influenza B viruses, influenza A (H1N1) viruses, and influenza A (H3N2) viruses. Each year, one flu virus of each kind is used to produce seasonal influenza vaccine.

Who Should Get Vaccinated This Season?  Everyone who is at least 6 months of age should get a flu vaccine this season. It’s especially important for some people to get vaccinated such as people who are at high risk of developing serious complications like pneumonia if they get sick with the flu. This includes people who have certain medical conditions including asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease, pregnant women, and people 65 years and older.  If you are pregnant or under the age of six, you should get your flu shot at your doctor’s office.

Retro look for Cooper gift shop

Thursday, June 27 2013 5:50 PM - by Brett Kappelmann

The gift shop area at Cooper Drug has had a significant make over.   The “new” look is retro and some of the merchandise displays cleverly incorporate vintage items once used in the drug store. 

Thanks to owner Brett Kappelmann’s vision and the creative flair and design of Tiffany Gillespie, customers are going to have a lot more fun shopping for unique items at the down- town business. “We wanted it to be fun and nostalgic -- we brought in all the good things about the past.  Good memories are the central theme,” Brett continued, “Tiffany is passionate about this.    The new look is a perfect fit for this historic business.” 

In honor of the late Cletus Kappelmann, former longtime pharmacist and owner of the store, the large candy/confection area has been named “Clete’s Candy Store.”   A special window display also pays tribute to him. 

 “Dad had a real sweet tooth. He’d love this.” Brett said with a smile. 

There is a wide variety of sweet delights that many customers will remember from their childhood. The old fashion candy isn’t sold in most retail stores. 

More nostalgic products include a variety of ice cold hard-to-find glass-bottled soda pop - sure to please all ages. 

Store manager Carla Hess and the staff invite people to drop by and enjoy the new look and new products. 

Carla advised, “If customers purchase a mug, they can have it filled with coffee, tea or lemonade every day for the entire year. And we still have fun Popcorn Fridays.” 

Stop by 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday. 

You’re never too old for a childhood memory.

 

Generic Viagra?

Thursday, May 23 2013 9:02 AM - by Brett Kappelmann

 Erectile Dysfunction (ED) medications have always carried a very high price tag.  Today, drugs such as Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra will cost you over twenty-five dollars a pill at your pharmacy!  Recently, however, a “generic” alternative to the most popular ED medication, Viagra, has come on the market but has remained surprisingly unknown to patients and doctors alike.  How can that be?

Did you know that sildenafil, the active ingredient in Viagra, is actually the active ingredient in a medication called Revatio that is used to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension?  There are two key differences though.  First, Revatio comes in a strength of 20mg per tablet, instead of 25mg, 50mg or 100mg per tablet of Viagra.  If you are on a dose of 50mg of Viagra, for example, then you would need to take an equivalent of two and a half tablets of Revatio to equal the same dose.

The second difference is the exciting part.  (Cue the drumroll…)  Revatio has recently become available in generic form for literally fractions of the price of brand Viagra!  Even if you would need five tablets of generic Revatio 20mg to equal a 100mg dose of Viagra, you still would pay far less than HALF of what you would pay for one Viagra 100mg tablet.  I have even discovered a few insurance companies will actually cover the generic Revatio at a generic copay while not covering Viagra, Cialis, or Levitra.  We saved one of our customers exactly $238.72 on just one prescription by asking his physician to prescribe generic Revatio, which was covered at a generic copay, rather than brand-name Levitra.  Disclaimer:  many plans are still not covering generic Revatio without a prior authorization that it is used for pulmonary hypertension rather than ED, but either way you will save, it’s just a matter of how much!

So ask your pharmacist about “generic” Viagra or come see us at Cooper Drug in downtown Augusta with your brand ED prescription and we would be happy to contact your doctor to suggest the less expensive alternative.  We also always welcome prescription transfers if anyone has been receiving the brand name medication at another pharmacy.

Thanks, Dad!

Friday, May 17 2013 3:47 PM - by Brett Kappelmann

I love my job. I am so thankful that I am able to get up every morning and go to work at a truly special place. I get the pleasure of goingto work with a caring, compassionate staff and take care of the most wonderful customers that any pharmacy owner could ever ask for. In the spirit of the Thanksgiving season, there is one person in particular that I want to thank for giving me the opportunity to work in the place that I love. I am thankful that through my job I get to spend the first couple of hours of my day with my dad.and not just my dad, but my mentor and role model. Dad, now 81, does not mess with the computer anymore, but you can find him sitting at the prescription checkout counterbetween 9 and 11 with the same infectious smile and greeting that he possessed when he owned and operated the business and I was just a wild little kid riding wheelchairs up and down the aisles (which I have since given up) and stealing candy (which I still do). I get to see him interact with many of the same customers that were hiswhen he first took over the business back in 1956. That is special to me.

I have learned so much from Dad. Treat your customers no different than your closest friends. Listen to them. Go out of your way to help them whenever you can. Since becoming the owner in 2005, I try my best to be like my dad. I continually fall short, but I always strive to become better. Working next to Dad serves as a reminder to always strive to give the customers your best.

I am also thankful for the opportunity that I am in right now. As the only sibling that chose pharmacy as a career, I wasn't for sure if I could do the ownership-thing. It seemed pretty intimidating at first. My dad offered me a position at Cooper Drug when I graduated back in 2003. I remember thinking something to the effect of "this should be a nice little experiment." Ironically, I had never worked in an independent pharmacy before, only at a Walgreens and hospital pharmacy in Topeka during my pharmacy school days at KU. "I guess I can no longer race wheelchairs down the aisles anymore," I jokingly thought to myself. If I ever started dreaming with my wife, Bridget, at the possibilities of ownership, I would quickly become overwhelmed by the thoughts of all the time, energy, and money that it would take to revitalize Cooper Drug to allow sustainability for 50 more years. More than that, KU taught me to be a very good pharmacist, but not a thing about operating a business.

Well here I am eight years later. Bridget and I went through the time, energy, and funds it took to transform Cooper Drug into what it is today. I have fond memories and taking an evening accounting class through Butler County Community College with Bridget in order to get caught up with what I missed regarding business management at pharmacy school. The rest I have picked up from working with and learning from my dad. Today the store is what I had envisioned eight years before. We have a great staff, a beautifully renovated pharmacy, and unique services that make us like no other pharmacy around. I am so thankful that I get the privilege to be a part of it.

What convinced me to become only the third owner of Cooper Drug Store in its ninety year history? I am heretoday because of Dad. I observed how he treated his customers and how they treated him in return. I wanted to be a part of that. I will always strive to be like Dad who understands that it is relationships that make you want to get up and go to work each morning.I hope that one day I am worthy of being the same type role model to my sons that Dad has been to me. I hope that one day one of my four boys, ages 6, 3, 1, and -4 months(due in March), who are now wreaking havoc in my store as I once did in Dad's, will keep the legacy of Cooper Drug Store alive because of the realization that Cooper Drug is such a special place to work because of those same relationships. Thank you Dad for all that you have done for me. ..and thank you customers for being patient with me as I continually strive to be more like him.

Mail Order Medical Supplies: Buyer Beware

Friday, May 17 2013 3:46 PM - by Brett Kappelmann

Last week, one of our elderly patients came into the pharmacy complaining about the constant harassment she was receiving from Liberty Medical over her diabetic test strips. According to this patient, Liberty would call her several times a week when they deemed it was time for her to reorder her strips. Basically, they refused to leave her alone until she ordered them again.even if she didn't need them. And sometimes, she said, they'd just send her strips and lancets without contacting her at all.

Due to massive marketing campaigns, many Medicare recipients have the misconception that there is a significant advantage (like lower prices) to purchasing certain home medical supplies-such as diabetic testing supplies or nebulized medications-from large mail order companies. In reality, patients can receive these same products at the exact same price from your local, friendly, independent pharmacy. In fact, there is actually no real advantage to selecting these mail order providers, and utilizing these giant companies can often be inconvenient and/or even potentially harmful to the beneficiary. Here are just a few of the advantages of staying local for home medical equipment:

  • The Same Price: Medicare patients will pay the same price (which is often nothing if they have a Medigap (also known as a supplemental) plan regardless of who provides their home medical equipment. Unlike many mail order pharmacies, every company that bills Medicare for medical equipment is paid at the same rate and must charge their patients the same price.
  • No Waiting: Mail order companies often take several days to several weeks to ship supplies to their patients. When using a local supplier, this problem is eliminated.
  • No Damage from Shipping: We routinely encounter patients who show us medical supplies that have been extensively damaged during shipping. While these companies usually offer replacements, this often means additional waiting periods.
  • No Temperature Extremes from Shipping: Many medical supplies are also temperature sensitive. For example, most diabetic test strips must be stored under 86 degrees. However, these mail order companies do not usually provide any means of avoiding extreme temperatures during shipping (even during the heat of the summer), which could lead to inaccurate readings.
  • No Wasted Supplies: Many mail order companies have been known to ship products to patients on a fixed schedule.whether they need them or not. In fact, many patients who use these companies end up accumulating huge stockpiles of diabetic testing supplies. With local medical equipment providers, you receive the required supplies only when you need them.

Please consider supporting your local pharmacy if there is ever a need for medical supplies such as diabetic testing strips. I am confident that you will find your needs will be met without all of the extra hassle that comes from dealing with a mail order company.

Medication Adherence Solutions

Friday, February 1 2013 3:44 PM - by Brett Kappelmann

Suppose you go in for a routine checkup with your primary care provider. They check your blood glucose level and it measures over 300. You have never had high levels before but you figured the day would come due to the high percentage of diabetes running in your family. Your doctor prescribes a medication that he tells you will help control your blood sugar. You take the prescription to the pharmacy, hoping that just maybe it is on the four dollar list, but the pharmacist tells you that not only is it not on the list, this drug is available only in the brand-name version. You wait at the pharmacy for an hour as they duke it out with your insurance company and finally get it covered at eighty dollar copay! The pharmacist then proceeds to counsel about the high percentage of nausea and vomiting for people taking this medication.

"Great," you tell yourself sarcastically. You justify to yourself that you feel just fine even with blood sugars that high, and with all of your responsibilities at home and at work, you can't afford to be dealing with the side effects from starting a new medication. "I'll start it next month," you tell yourself, but by next month, and the month after, there are ten other reasons to justify not taking the medication. And those blood sugars continue to creep up.and up.and up.

I see different versions of this scenario play out every day as a pharmacist. In the scenario above, this customer is at risk of quite literally shaving years off her life-expectancy as well as severely impeding her quality of life once the diabetic complications start setting in due to chronically high blood sugars. Medication non-adherence is at an all-time high today due to many of the factors represented above. Lack of medication reconciliation, lack of medication availability, intention non-adherence, poor medication understanding, and cost of medication are the five basic causes of non-adherence. But how do you overcome these causes? Let's look into a few solutions.

Lack of medication reconciliation. Keep a current list of your medications with you at all times. On that list be sure to include the dose, directions, indication, and prescribing physician. Utilize your pharmacy to help you with the list if necessary. Don't forget your OTC medications. Refer to this list often to make sure you have not forgotten a medication. It also will come quite handy on your trips to the doctor or hospital.

Lack of medication availability and cost of medication. Utilize the expertise of your doctor and pharmacist in case a medication becomes unavailable or perhaps cost prohibitive. Nine times out of ten there is an alternative, and many times that alternative is a less expensive generic. Also, be proactive by calling in refill requests days before you run out of your current supply. Oftentimes the pharmacy will have to call the prescriber for refill authorization or sometimes the prescription will be held up to due to an insurance situation such as a prior authorization. Both instances could affect adherence if you run out before the next refill is ready.

Intentional non-adherence and poor medication understanding. This can only be overcome through education of need, expected side effects, and outcomes associated with medication use as well as identification of reason for intentional non-adherence and overcoming that barrier. In the situation above, what if the pharmacist counseled that the high incidence of nausea and vomiting could be minimized if the medication is taken with food? What if the patient was better educated on the long term effects of non-controlled diabetes?

To conclude, if you have a chronic condition or conditions that causes you to be on multiple medications, partner with a pharmacy that specializes in finding innovative ways to find solutions that allow you to take the right medications at the right time, every time. For example, at Cooper Drug Store, we offer three such programs, each designed to meet the needs of a specific set of patients. No-Wait Refills is our autofill program designed for the patient with perhaps a busy schedule who is only on one to three maintenance medications. We will keep track of the date to refill your meds and then even give you an email or text when ready. SyncRx is designed for the patient on multiple medications who seems like they spend literally every other day at the pharmacy. We will synchronize all of your meds to come due at the same time! Not only that, we keep track of when you will come due for a refill and proactive call you days before you run out to review your medication list in order to prepare your next month of medications. Finally, we have recently released the Med Manager Medication Adherence Program through our closed-door pharmacy, Golden Plains Pharmacy Services, which takes SyncRx to the next level by packaging your oral medications in strip packaging, sorted by administration time and day. We are the first pharmacy in our area to offer this unique and innovative service to the patients who live at home.

Although medication adherence can be a challenge, with a little planning, education, preparation, and assistance from your pharmacy, you can soon be an adherent patient and hold your head up high when you go in for the next checkup with your doctor.

Who’s With Me in 2013?

Tuesday, January 1 2013 4:20 PM - by Brett Kappelmann

What are your New Year’s resolutions?  I for one have joined the masses and have decided to shed a few pounds this year.  Not that I luckily have too far to go.  It is just that December was not very good to me.  My wife is a great cook and loves to make cookies and other yummy treats around the holidays.   For the most part of 2012, though, I fortunately worked my weight down to where I was at in college!  How, you might ask?

It started last summer.  Our store manager, Carla Hess, came up with the terrific idea to start stocking health and wellness supplements like what are presented on the Dr. Oz show.    If Dr. Oz touts the benefits of a health and wellness supplement on his show, then we would try to find a like product and stock it for our customers’ convenience.  It is then that I discovered health and wellness products like Raspberry Ketones, Relora, African Mango, and, Green Coffee Bean, just to name a few.  These new products fit in perfectly with our Advocare health and wellness line of products that we also carry.

We not only started stocking the products for our customers, I started trying the supplements myself to see if they might help me drop a few pounds.  Along with making a few changes in my diet with help from a Bob Harper book entitled “The Skinny Rules,” the pounds started to drop more than they had in years!  I felt great, had tons of energy, and even was able to chase my rambunctious young sons around without needing a break.  By the latter part of 2012 (before December hit), my weight was even below what I weighed during my last year of college.

If you decide that you would like to try a health and wellness supplement but do not know which would be the best option for you, come see me.  Every supplement is not right for every person, but I can help you narrow down your options.  I also advise my customers that health supplements will not work magic on their own, but can definitely serve as your friendly companion in reaching your goals as long as you do not neglect other important components of living a healthy life, such as diet, sleep, and exercise.

Carla has worked hard to find products from reputable companies that are both high quality and very reasonably priced.  Most of our health and wellness supplements range in price from only fifteen to twenty-five dollars for a month supply, unlike those so called “miracle” supplements that you would see on an infomercial or the internet that often cost fifty dollars a month or more. 

So I am sharing my story with you in hopes that 2013 might be a year in which you too might become inspired to get more out of life by regaining control of your health.  For me, some sound diet and nutrition advice along with the aid of some health and wellness supplements helped me regain control.  What will help you regain control?  Only you can answer that.  Sure, I took a break in December, but have just replenished my supply of Green Coffee Bean and Raspberry Ketones and am ready to get going again in 2013.  Let Cooper Drug Store partner with you in 2013 to improve your health.  Who’s with me?

Medications that Increase the Risk of Falls

Tuesday, November 20 2012 4:22 PM - by Brett Kappelmann

Falls are the leading cause of injury-related death for people over the age of 65.  Unfortunately, falls occur more frequently among those who reside in a long term care facility.  There are many risk factors that can cause falls, with drug use as one of the leading risk factors.  In fact, side effects of drugs have been reported to be responsible for almost 10% of falls.

To put it simply, any drug that alters cognition or balance or causes sedation can increase the risk of falls.  Side effects of medications that increase the risk of falls include sedation, confusion, orthostatic hypotension, and depression.

Medications that cause sedation include, but are not limited to, muscle relaxants, some antidepressants, Benadryl, and barbiturates.  Benadryl, or diphenhydramine, also tops the list of drugs that can cause confusion in the elderly.

Orthostatic hypotension is a more commonly referred to as a “head rush” or “dizzy spell”.  Often this happens when someone stands up after being seated for a prolonged period.  Many blood pressure medications have the potential risk for orthostatic hypotension, but clonidine and doxazosin are among the more commonly prescribed blood pressure medications that have an increased incidence of this side effect.

Drugs that cause depression and thus an increase risk of falls include long-term benzodiazepines and sympatholytic agents such as methyldopa.

In summation, if you are worried that someone close to you might be at risk for a fall due to his or her drug regimen, ask a pharmacist or physician to review his or her medications.  There might be better alternatives for certain classes of drugs such as sleep aides or blood pressure medications that are less likely to cause falls.1

 

 

 

  1. Menefee, L. R. & Zagar, M. O. (2008)  Keeping your geriatric patients on their feet.   America’s Pharmacist.  May 2008.  19-23.

Flu Shots Now Offered in Downtown Augusta at Cooper Drug

Monday, October 1 2012 3:46 PM - by Brett Kappelmann

Isn't this weather wonderful! As temperatures begin to drop and we finally receive relief from another sweltering hot summer, it is time to start thinking about vaccinating against the flu as we head into another winter season. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone over the age of 6 months should be vaccinated against the flu each year in the fall. You can get your flu shot at your doctor's office or even at your pharmacy. For the first time in our 90 year history, we are now offering flu shots at your local independent pharmacy in downtown Augusta. There is no cost to Medicare Part B beneficiaries since the flu shot is covered at 100% annually. We even take care of the billing for you! We also bill private insurances if covered. For the noninsured, the cost is just 27 dollars. Our primary immunizer is our pharmacist Rachel Henman, who served as a mass immunizer for several years before joining the Cooper Drug team. We also have been holding off-site flu shot clinics at several locations around Augusta and the surrounding communities and I am proud to announce that they have been a complete success! Please call us at 775-2289 for questions and to get on our scheduling list or even if you are interested in having us give a flu shot clinic at your group location. We only need about twenty participants to be able to come to your location. We appreciate your support to your local, independent pharmacy.

Why should people get vaccinated against the flu? Influenza is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death. Every flu season is different, and influenza infection can affect people differently. Even healthy people can get very sick from the flu and spread it to others. Over a period of 31 seasons between 1976 and 2007, estimates of flu-associated deaths in the United States range from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people. During a regular flu season, about 90 percent of deaths occur in people 65 years and older. The "seasonal flu season" in the United States can begin as early as October and last as late as May.

During this time, flu viruses are circulating in the population. An annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to reduce the chances that you will get seasonal flu and lessen the chance that you will spread it to others. When more people get vaccinated against the flu, less flu can spread through that community.

How do flu vaccines work? Flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination. These antibodies provide protection against infection with the viruses that are in the vaccine. The seasonal flu vaccine protects against three influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season.

Three kinds of influenza viruses commonly circulate among people today: influenza B viruses, influenza A (H1N1) viruses, and influenza A (H3N2) viruses. Each year, one flu virus of each kind is used to produce seasonal influenza vaccine.

Who Should Get Vaccinated This Season? Everyone who is at least 6 months of age should get a flu vaccine this season. It's especially important for some people to get vaccinated such as people who are at high risk of developing serious complications like pneumonia if they get sick with the flu. This includes people who have certain medical conditions including asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease, pregnant women, and people 65 years and older. If you are pregnant or under the age of six, you should get your flu shot at your doctor's office.

Relora: Lose Weight caused by Stress!

Wednesday, June 20 2012 4:21 PM - by Brett Kappelmann

I love working in an environment that is often fast paced, high energy, and fun.  As an independent pharmacy owner, my days often fly by.  Oftentimes I will go hours without looking at the clock and it will feel like fifteen minutes.  I’ll throw down a donut or cookie in an instant on days like that without even thinking.  With a job such as this in which doing three or four things at once is the norm, my body is continually under stress.  When I feel stressed I also do not usually eat well and might pack a few more pounds than I would like to mostly notably around my belly.  Why is this?  Are there any supplements that might combat this type of vicious weight gaining cycle?  If you have a high stress job, eat when you are stressed, and would like to shed a few pounds caused by stress, you might consider a supplement called Relora.

Relora is a supplement made from the extracts of Phellodendron Amurense and Magnolia Officinalis.  These extracts were used for thousands of years by Chinese herbalists to promote relaxation.  Clinical studies have shown that Relora can also help mitigate feelings and symptoms associated with anxiety and depression, such as irritability, mood swings, and difficulty sleeping.

How does it work?  When you are stressed, your body releases the hormone cortisol.  Cortisol makes it easier for fat to be stored around your midsection.  Relora will decrease the amount of cortisol being released into the bloodstream.  Meaning, decreased levels of cortisol can lead to the prevention of weight gain, the loss of excess weight especially around the belly where cortisol can have the greatest effect on fat storage, and the reduction of stress eating.

Relora has been been recommended by Dr. Oz on his show, as well as featured in many health magazines such as Woman’s World and Better Nutrition Magazine.  Dr. Oz recommends 250mg three times per day or a dose with every meal.  Relora can sometimes even be taken with other weight loss supplements such as Raspberry Ketones because they work in different ways to shed excess weight, but ask your doctor or pharmacist before starting any weight loss supplement  because there are sometimes conditions in which certain supplements are not recommended.

Relora is just another supplement that we feature in our Dr. Oz Recommended section at Cooper Drug Store.  Stop by and see us if you would like to learn more about Relora or check out any of our other Dr. Oz recommended products.  The next time I am having a busy morning in the pharmacy, I am going to utilize Relora to keep me at a distance from that cookie or donut.

An Easy Way to Utilize the Knowledge of Your Pharmacist to Cut Prescription Costs

Tuesday, May 1 2012 4:22 PM - by Brett Kappelmann

What if I told you that I could save you over six hundred dollars a year by changing just one of your medications to a less expensive therapeutically equivalent medication, without sacrificing any health benefit you receive from the medication therapy?  What if I told you that we as your pharmacy would do all of the leg work to make this change?  All you have to do is ask.  We would call your doctor.  We would ask him or her to consider changing to a more affordable option to benefit your pocketbook without sacrificing your health.  Does that perk up your attention at all?

Let me show you a very realistic situation of how we could save you 840 dollars a year on just one change.  Copays on branded medications are at an all-time high.  I regularly see copays at 50 to 75 to even 100 dollars for a one month supply of a brand name medication.  Generic copays often range in the zero to ten dollar range for a one month supply.  Suppose you have been paying a 75 dollar copay for your brand name blood pressure medication for the last year.  This is where it gets fun.

Brand name medications are becoming available in generic form at an all-time high.  Even if your prescription is not available in generic form yet, your pharmacist will know if a “therapeutically equivalent” medication is available in generic form.  When I say two drugs are therapeutically equivalent, it basically means that they work the same way and produce the same desired effect, but the pharmacy cannot substitute without the prescriber’s authorization because it is not the exact same medication, just an equivalent one.

So back to my example.  With the ever increasing rates of brands moving to generic, suppose you ask your pharmacist  if there is a more affordable alternative to the 75 dollar brand name blood pressure medication.  Your pharmacist just so happens to know that a therapeutically equivalent medication just went generic last month.  Your pharmacist calls your doctor, your doctor ok’s the change, and now the new medication is billed to your insurance and comes back at a 5 dollar copay.  75-5=70.  Thus you will save 70 dollars per month.  70 dollars x 12 months = 840 dollars per year! 

I don’t know about you but I can think of so many good things you could do with 840 extra dollars in your pocket at the end of the year.  Disclaimer:  sometimes your doctor has very good reason to have you on the exact medication that you are on and will be reluctant to change.  That’s ok.  At least we tried.  In that case ask your doctor if the manufacturer has given him or her any copay assistance coupons to help bring your copay down.

So utilize the free wealth of knowledge of your pharmacist to save you money!  As a pharmacist and local independent pharmacy owner, I am passionate about finding solutions for our customers to make their lives better.  It may be a health solution, a convenience solution, or in this case a financial solution.  My phone line is always open if you have any questions regarding your particular situation (775-2289).  It’s just another way to let you know that we care.

Raspberry Ketones, New Supplement for the Battle Against Fat

Saturday, March 31 2012 4:16 PM - by Brett Kappelmann

Bottles of Raspberry Ketones are “flying off the shelf” at Cooper Drug Store.  People are discovering that Dr. Oz is right when he says that Raspberry Ketones can help you lose weight and burn excess fat.  Commonly used as a fragrance and food flavorer, Raspberry Ketones are also high in antioxidants, which help to keep the body functioning properly despite the advance of age.  The enzyme in Raspberry Ketones is a valuable counter to weight gain resulting from a high fat diet.

How Raspberry Ketones Work:  Raspberry Ketones are an all-natural, non-stimulant thermogenic, which cause the body to release norepinephrine.  Norepinephrine is a hormone that is released from the adrenal medulla by the sympathetic nerves, functioning as a neurotransmitter.  The release of norepinephrine stimulates the body to metabolize (or burn) fat.  Raspberry Ketones have direct interaction with the fat cells in the body by helping to induce fat burning and overall weight loss in the body.

In Simple Terms, it helps your body release norepinephrine, which makes the fat be metabolized or burn faster.  This can stop your body from absorbing carbohydrates and fats from your meals.  Raspberry Ketones have direct interaction with the fat cells in the body.  This supplement induces fat burning and overall weight loss.

Come into Cooper Drug Store to try Raspberry Ketones for yourself!  The pharmacists and team are happy to answer your questions and help you with all of your healthcare needs.  Stay tuned for more Dr. Oz recommendations! 

Can Local Honey Help With Seasonal Allergies?

Thursday, February 9 2012 4:17 PM - by Brett Kappelmann

As the winter wraps up and we head into the spring, we know that the sniffles and sneezing for many people are on their way as well.  What I’m speaking about is seasonal allergies, commonly caused by the release of pollen spores by blossoming flowers in the spring.  There is a theory that honey, especially honey produced locally, can actually reduce the severity of allergies from those allergic to pollen.  But how does that work?

The answer is actually quite interesting.  At this point it is just theory, but the idea behind eating honey is kind of like gradually vaccinating the body against allergens, a process called immunotherapy. Honey contains a variety of the same pollen spores that give allergy sufferers so much trouble when flowers and grasses are in bloom. Introducing these spores into the body in small amounts by eating honey should make the body accustomed to their presence and decrease the chance an immune system response like the release of histamine will occur. Since the concentration of pollen spores found in honey is low -- compared to, say, sniffing a flower directly -- then the production of antibodies shouldn't trigger symptoms similar to an allergic reaction.  Ideally, the honey-eater won't have any reaction at all.

Local honey is supposed to pack more of a punch against allergies.  This proximity increases the chances that the varieties of flowering plants and grasses giving the allergy sufferer trouble are the same kinds the bees are including in the honey they produce. After all, it wouldn't help much if you ate honey with spores from a type of grass that grows in Augusta, Georgia if you suffer from allergies in Augusta, Kansas.

So support your local beekeepers before picking up honey from the grocery store produced by bees miles and miles away.  That decision may just be beneficial to your health!  I am happy to announce that we sell honey produced locally by beekeeper Richard Harvey at Cooper Drug Store.  Stop by and see us!

Vaccinations now being offered at Cooper Drug Store

Wednesday, February 1 2012 4:19 PM - by Brett Kappelmann

I am pleased to announce that you can now receive the shingles vaccination at your hometown pharmacy, Cooper Drug Store.  We also plan on rolling out flu shots starting the fall of 2012.  We have been dispensing the shingles vaccine over the last several years, but only until late last fall were we able to actually administer the vaccine.  The vaccine is generally covered by most Medicare Part D plans, although copays differ from one plan to the next.  There is a nominal vaccination fee that is normally covered by most Medicare Part D plans.  Please give us a call at 775-2289 and ask for Rachel to set up an appointment.

Almost 1 out of 3 people in the United States will develop shingles during their lifetime. And, older people are at a greater risk for developing shingles.  The only way to reduce the risk of developing shingles is to get vaccinated.  The shingles vaccine (Zostavax®) was recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) in 2006 to reduce the risk of shingles and its associated pain in people age 60 years and older.

Your risk for developing shingles increases as you age. The Shingles Prevention Study involved individuals age 60 years and older and found the shingles vaccine significantly reduced disease in this age group. The vaccine is currently recommended for persons 60 years of age and older. Even people who have had shingles can receive the vaccine to help prevent future occurrences of the disease.

At this time, CDC does not have a recommendation for routine use of shingles vaccine in persons 50 through 59 years old. However, the vaccine is approved by FDA for people 50 and older. It is available by prescription from a healthcare professional. Talk with your doctor or pharmacist if you have questions about the shingles vaccine.  We hope to see you soon!

2011 in Review: A Year of Dramatic Change at Cooper Drug Store

Thursday, January 12 2012 4:16 PM - by Brett Kappelmann

2011 has come and gone like a whirlwind.  It was a year that saw dramatic change in our business model.  New services.  New products.  A new and reenergized passion for striving to not only meet but exceed  the needs and expectations of our customers.  As the first column for 2012, I find it timely to briefly review the wonderful changes that took place in 2011 at your hometown pharmacy.

We began the year by saying goodbye (well, sort of) to our gift manager, Tiffany Gillespie, as she embarked on an exciting journey of fulfilling her dream of owning and operating her own boutique.  I say “sort of” because Tiffany is still with us as our merchandiser and her shop is just a few buildings down the block.  We also said goodbye to two more from our Cooper Drug Store family in 2011 to retirement, Sharon McKinney, our DME manager, and Bob Thissen, our beloved delivery driver.   A few months later we welcomed Carla Hess as our new store manager bringing a new level of energy and enthusiasm to our team.

The Sweet Spot.  In the spring we introduced our community to the “Sweet Spot”, a free monthly educational class designed to educate and support those affected by diabetes.  The class was a hit from the start!  We have gone over various topics such as diabetic complications, diet, exercise, insulin, and more.  It’s not just educational, it’s fun!  The class participates by sharing their individual stories and struggles with the disease.  I often tell the group that I learn as much from them as they do from us.    Perhaps the highlight was inviting our local optometrist, Dr. Crum, to speak at our class back in October about how the disease affects the eyes.  We have a full curriculum prepared for 2012 and look forward to seeing some new faces.  We meet on the third Thursday of the month at 11am.  Light refreshments are served and you do not have to be a prescription customer at Cooper Drug Store to attend.

SyncRx.  In the summer we introduced perhaps the most successful of all of our new services, SyncRx.  Sync Rx, another free service for qualifying customers, was designed especially to decrease stress and free up time for the customer with multiple medical conditions on multiple maintenance medications.  SyncRx participants enjoy less visits and calls to the pharmacy.  Our SyncRx specialists play the role of caregiver by keeping track of when to refill medications and then preparing the medications proactively by a set of procedures to ensure that you receive all you need when you need it, in just one trip (or delivery).  That is just the beginning of the features that SyncRx has to offer.  We currently have 90 participants on SyncRx and are continuing to set up new participants almost daily.

The Care Card.  In the fall we introduced the Cooper Care Card, a prescription discount and loyalty program wrapped up into one convenient card.  Care Card participants enjoy receiving many generics for around 4 dollars a month, discounted brand-name drugs, and cash back at the register based upon purchases of both front end merchandise and prescriptions.  All this plus what I like to call the Cooper Drug difference, which includes our total service package (free delivery, free valuable services, etc.).

Immunizations.  Yes, you read that right.  Cooper Drug Store has begun administering immunizations to our customers.  We currently are only offering the shingles vaccine, but we plan to offer flu shots by next fall!

Extended free delivery times.  In the late fall we made perhaps our most popular free service even better:  we tripled our delivery service!  What I mean is that now by special request we can deliver your medications at either the noon hour or after 7pm.  Where there is a need by our customer base we are going to try to find a way to meet that need.

Other new services and products.  I can’t devote a paragraph for each and every new and valuable service or product we introduced last year so I thought I would just mention them here:  Free text/email-when-ready service, new Advocare health and wellness line, improved dental health line, new and improved diabetic shoe line known as Dr. Comfort, new line of lift chairs, a new cappuccino machine serving complimentary cappuccino and hot chocolate, a monthly newsletter known as the “Cooper Connection”, an improved automatic refill service, and more!

Hopefully you can see that we kept busy last year aimed at improving your experience at Cooper Drug Store.  Perhaps you are interested in learning more about one of the services mentioned above.  Please give us a call anytime (775-2289) during open hours and we would love the opportunity to further explain any of our services and answer any questions you might have.  You might wonder what is in store for 2012?  We have some more exciting plans in the works for this year.  Come experience the Cooper Drug difference and find out!

Choosing the right cough medicine

Tuesday, December 13 2011 4:18 PM - by Brett Kappelmann

As we trudge along through cold and flu season, I am frequently asked about cough medicine.  What is the best cough medicine available?  What are the different types of cough medicine?  Are the over-the-counter cough medicines any good?  Cough medicine and cough syrups are available over-the-counter in three different types: cough suppressants, oral expectorants, and topical (externally applied) drugs.

If you were to walk into my store and ask about choosing a cough medicine, the first question I would ask you would be if the cough is productive or not.  A productive cough produces mucous and secretions.  A nonproductive cough is also known as a dry, hacky cough.  Based upon the type of cough you have will depend on the best type of cough medicine to use.

For a productive cough, usually a medicine that contains guaifenesin is the best approach.  Guaifenesin is an oral expectorant that works by thinning the mucous, making it easier to cough up.  If you have a productive cough you usually do not want to suppress it, because coughing up mucous and secretions is your body’s natural way to clear the airways.  Guaifenesin works the best if you take it with plenty of water, because the water will work with the guaifenesin to thin the mucous.  You can find guaifenesin in many cough medicines.  Two of the most common guaifenesin-containing cough medicines are Robitussin and Mucinex.  Robitussin comes in syrup form, is inexpensive, but is shorter acting.  Mucinex comes in tablet form, is more expensive, but can last for up to twelve hours.

For a nonproductive, dry, hacky cough, a cough suppressant is usually the best choice for therapy.  Cough suppressants relieve your cough by blocking the cough reflex.  The most common ingredient that you will find as a cough suppressant in over-the-counter formulations is dextromethorphan, or DM.  Codeine is considered the gold standard of cough suppressants, but is mostly available in prescription form due to its abuse potential.  Delsym is a popular choice as an over-the-counter cough suppression therapy because it contains dextromethorphan in a long acting (twelve hour) formulation.

Many OTC cold and cough syrups and cough medicines contain a cough suppressant (dextromethorphan) plus an expectorant (guaifenesin) along with other cold medicines and pain relievers. The combination cold and cough medicine may contain an antihistamine, a decongestant, and a pain reliever in addition to the cough suppressant and/or expectorant. The combination of medicines may give optimal relief if you have multiple cold symptoms, such as body aches, coughs, and congestion. The downside of the combination cold medicines is that you may be taking medication that you don’t need, depending on your symptoms.

Topical products that contain camphor and menthol are also used to relieve cough.  These natural, aromatic cough medicines are rubbed on the throat and the chest. The anesthetic action of their vapors is thought to ease coughing and soothe stuffiness from a cold.

In summation, this is a simple breakdown of cough therapy.  There are many other factors that must be considered when choosing the most appropriate cough therapy.  Factors such as drug-drug interactions, age restrictions, and conflicting medical conditions must be considered.  As always, ask your doctor or pharmacist if it unclear as to the most appropriate medication to choose.

Remember to Look at the Big Picture in Choosing a Medicare Part D Plan for 2012

Saturday, October 1 2011 4:13 PM - by Brett Kappelmann

The open enrollment period for Medicare Part D is underway this year, a month earlier than last year.  The open enrollment period runs from October 15th to December 7th this year.  It is during this time period that seniors may change Medicare Part D plans for the 2012 year.  This month let’s look at how seniors currently on Medicare Part D can decide whether or not they should consider switching to a different plan during the open enrollment period.  There are many different factors to consider beyond just the premium as I will soon explain.

One of the many services that Cooper Drug Store offers its customers is a free Medicare Part D analysis.  We will enter your current medication regimen into an online program that will give you the most affordable plans to consider in 2012.  Each year switching plans can save seniors hundreds of dollars, and in some rare occasions thousands of dollars, over the course of the year.  Choosing the most appropriate plan to meet your needs involves many different factors as I will soon point out.

In choosing a plan, I know it is easy to just focus on the premium.  Premiums are important to consider and represent a fair amount of the plans overall annual costs.  It is important to look beyond just the premium.  Does the plan have a deductible?  I like to think of deductibles as “premiums in disguise.”  After all, when you are paying your deductible, you are not receiving a single benefit from the plan until the deductible is met.  Next year’s standard deductible will be $320.  As a general guideline you can divide that number by twelve and add that to your premium to more or less give you a “net premium.”  A fifteen dollar premium with a $320 deductible would give a “net premium” of around forty-one dollars.  There are more factors to consider but the point is:  a higher premium, no deductible plan can be as good as or better than a low premium, high deductible plan.

What about the plan’s formulary?  Does the plan cover all of your medications?  If so, how well?  An eighty dollar monthly copay on a brand-name medication can add significantly to the annual overall cost when compared to a thirty-two dollar copay on another plan for the same medication.  In some of the scans I have performed this year I have observed that large of a difference among plans in the copay of the exact same brand medication.  Does that fifty dollar difference justify picking a plan with a premium of just a few dollars less?

Another trend that I have observed among Part D plans is that they are making some generics “Tier 2” or even “Tier 3” drugs.  Basically, generics can be classed into two different groups, expensive and inexpensive.  Before 2010 almost all generics were assigned to Tier 1 on most Part  D formularies.  Tier 1 medications all had the lowest copay that the plan offered.  Thus a generic that might cost 80 dollars would be grouped with the same generics that cost only 8 dollars.  The copays would be identical.  For the first time in 2010 and continuing at even a greater rate going into 2012, I have observed that some plans have put some of the expensive generics in the Tier 2 or even Tier 3 class.  So that same 80 dollar generic might cost you a 40 dollar copay rather than a 0, 4, or 7 dollar copay on another plan.  If you do the math just one medication like this might cost a senior almost 500 dollars more over the course of a year just because of this little, easy to overlook difference between one plan and another.

This is just one reason why it is ever so important for seniors to explore their options each year.  It goes so far beyond just picking a plan with the lowest premium or picking a plan because representatives are set up at the local big box company.  Those representatives will probably focus on the premiums, but be careful:  those plans are the plans that seniors are going to have to be the most careful about!

The Greatest Asset to Cooper Drug Store: Our Employees

Thursday, September 22 2011 4:14 PM - by Brett Kappelmann

I oftentimes feel that I get caught up in the day-to-day stresses of owning and operating a small independent pharmacy and do not take enough opportunities to thank our employees who make life at Cooper Drug so enjoyable for both me and our customers.  I have to admit my expectations of the employees are high.  I am always asking of each employee to strive to make themselves better, whether it be technical skills such as operating a register or computer or people skills such as remembering to smile no matter how their day is going.  I want to take this opportunity to let the employees at Cooper Drug know how much they are valued.

I am so fortunate to have the privilege to work with such a compassionate, caring group of individuals here at Cooper Drug.  Always striving to deliver a positive experience to our customers, I continually witness selfless acts by the staff that exceeds my expectations.  Thank you to our front end personnel Sheila, Shelly, Tiffany and Whitney for always greeting our customers with a genuine smile and striving to give our customers a wonderful experience when they walk in the door.  To our Drug Bug delivery drivers Claudine and Judy, you always do your job with a positive attitude, no matter what the Kansas weather brings.  To our Technicians Tina, Cheryl, Beulah, Drew, Faith, Ashle, and Erica, you are the heart of our team.  A technician’s role is very challenging and diverse, and it is evident that every single technician here strives to be the best-version-of-themselves in order to deliver to our customers a positive experience.  Pharmacists Rachel, Brett (McNeil), Pat, and Cletus are always so helpful and giving to our customers, going above and beyond to answer any questions and to assure the customers understand how to take their medications.  Our pharmacists are also so very diligent in assuring the safety of our customers by checking each and every prescription for accuracy and drug interactions before it goes out the door.  And finally to our manager, Carla, you have been nothing less than a blessing to me and the entire staff since your arrival last spring.  Your energy and enthusiasm is contagious to us all!  You continually strive to make Cooper Drug a special place for both the customer and the employee.

Thank you employees for making Cooper Drug a special place!  Next year will mark the 90th anniversary of Cooper Drug opening its doors in downtown Augusta.  I think the other two previous owners, my dad Cletus and Mr. Cooper, would agree that the employees are the main reason our doors have been open for so long.

Support local pharmacies

Thursday, September 1 2011 4:12 PM - by Brett Kappelmann

Editor: The recent closing of the Borders bookstore has me wondering what the citizens of Butler County would think if they lost the services of their local pharmacists. The possibility is real. The similarities to what shut down Borders, and the economic pressures facing retail pharmacy, are quite striking, except for one thing: Books are a commodity, drugs purchased at a pharmacy and the services provided by a pharmacist are not.

Those warehouse-like mail order operations are huge profit centers for these companies. Oh sure, they will "allow" local pharmacies to fill your immediate needs like antibiotics and diarrhea medicine. The problem is, neither an independent pharmacy nor any chain pharmacy could stay in business with those few prescriptions. If the mail order pharmacy trends continue unchecked, the days of having a trusted pharmacist to ask if this medication is right for you will come to an end.

What does this do to the local economy? Large companies that depend on local commerce for their very survival seem to have no problem sending millions of their dollars out of state each year for mail order pharmacy services. City, county and state governments do the same thing with your tax dollars being shipped out of state. This makes about as much sense as the unemployed factory worker hoping to get a local manufacturing job spending his unemployment check at Walmart on a kitchen table made in China.

It would be one thing if the drugs purchased via PBM (Pharmacy Benefit Manager)-owned mail order actually reduced or even contained an employer's drug cost, but they don't. Virtually every CEO I have spoken to has not seen their company drug bill decrease — ever — in spite of the fact that more drugs have gone generic in the last five years than ever.

As a pharmacy, we have seen our sales decrease in the past five years due to increased generics available for the same amount and type of prescriptions filled. The problem is the PBMs are retaining those savings at the employer's expense to fatten the bottom line. It's simple: They pay the pharmacy $17 then turn around and bill the employer as much as $217 and keep the difference.

So what can you do to save money and support the local economy? First be sure you have a relationship with your local pharmacist. He knows the most about you and your medication. Second, ask him if the drug (with no generic available) you are spending your $40 mail order co-pay on a three-month supply has a similar generic drug available in a generic. Then fill it at his store.

It may cost you three $10 co-pays to do it, but you are still saving $10, and you are creating local jobs. Don't forget, that mail house didn't try to help you. The local pharmacist took the time. If you send that generic off to be filled by mail, your local pharmacist might not be there next year. Today it is Borders, who will it be tomorrow?

Brett Kappelmann, PharmD.

Augusta