Health & Family

Cholesterol-lowering drugs linked to muscle problems

Q. I was on Lipitor for a number of years and have severe muscle and nerve damage to the extent that I am in a power wheelchair. Do you think Lipitor could be to blame?

Statin-type cholesterol-lowering drugs such as Crestor (rosuvastatin), Lipitor (atorvastatin), Mevacor (lovastatin) and Zocor (simvastatin) are linked to muscle pain, weakness and nerve damage. Most physicians have assumed that muscle problems are an extremely rare side effect. Many readers have experienced this problem, however. New research suggests that some people are highly susceptible to muscle-related complications from high-dose statins. This genetic vulnerability may affect up to one-fourth of the population. Others are unlikely to experience such problems.

Drug cheaper in Canada

Q. I recall reading about a reliable Canadian site from which to get less expensive, legitimate prescription drugs. I am in the Part D “doughnut hole,” and a 90-day supply of my Actos is more than $500. Can you direct me to information about that site?

We did some checking and found that in the U.S., the diabetes drug Actos might run anywhere from $570 to $692 for a three-month supply. The same medicine in Canada could cost between $161 and $382. The savings are significant.

When people enter the dreaded doughnut hole in their Medicare Part D prescription plan, they have to pay 100 percent of the medication costs. Buying from Canada can be helpful, but caution is necessary. Some Web sites that claim to be Canadian are actually based elsewhere. See for more information.

Medicare participants who spend more than $4,050 out of pocket become eligible for catastrophic coverage. If you think your drug bills will be a lot more than that, you should probably continue buying your medicine in the U.S.

Listerine helps to kill lice

Q. We've had quite a problem with them this year, and I have found the medication costly and ineffective. I'm glad you wrote about Listerine. We tried it, and it worked.

Many traditional lice treatments have lost effectiveness. The alcohol and other ingredients in Listerine may help kill lice. One mother described saturating the scalp with Listerine and covering the hair with a shower cap for two hours. She then combed out the dead lice.