Olden's Pharmacy Blog

Joan MacArthur

I am an owner and a pharmacist at Olden's Pharmacy in Weymouth, Massachusetts. In addition to working full-time at the pharmacy, I blog on important health topics from the perspective of a small, family-owned community pharmacy.

Recent Posts

Medicare Drug Plans. Don't believe the TV Ads.

Posted by Joan MacArthur on Oct 21, 2015 1:28:37 PM

It's that time of the year again. Annoying TV ads full of promise, but little detail, are flooding the airwaves. The ads target the vulnerable elderly urging them to act now, before it's too late. These ads aren't by politicians, or some scam company, they are by Medicare Part D insurance companies trolling for new customers.  

Each year, Medicare eligible patients can change, free of charge, to a new plan.  Yearly change is allowed because insurance companies tweek their plan's deductibles, monthly premiums and  co-pays.  By advertising the insurance companies hope to attract new customers without their existing customers noticing the "tweeks". The insurers count on people's belief that all plans are the same, or that switching plans is a hassle.  The Medicare insurers are right, most Part D benificiaries resign with their existing plan.

 At Olden's we know all plans are not equal. Taking time to compare Part D Medicare Drug Plans will help you stretch the $3,300 pot of benefit money you and the insurance company jointly spend on medications.

If you are computer savvy log onto the Medicare.gov  website to compare plans. If your prefer some personal help,  swing by Olden's, we'll help you exam the three elements needed to make a thoughtful Medicare Part D choice. 

1. The Formulary.

A formulary is a list of covered medications. Take the time to compare your medications against the formulary. If a medicine you take is not on the list, you'll have to pay full price for it. ( And don't hesitate to remind your doctor to check the formulary before he prescribes a new med.)

2. The Yearly Deductible, Monthly Premium and Co-pays.

Insurance companies have the math figured out in their favor. If they offer you a low premium, you are probably going to pay higher co-pays. If there is no deductible, your premium is higher. That's ok. Think like they do. Do you take lots of medications, and find the co pays at the drug store a burden? If so, maybe a higher premium plan will make budgeting easier and lower your co-pays.  If you take only a couple of inexpensive multi-source generics, go for a high deductible, low premium plan. 

3. The Pharmacy

The 3,300.00 dollar benefit you receive from Medicare is jointly spent by you at the pharmacy register, and by the insurance companies.  A well informed, conscientious pharmacist will be mindful of the true cost to you. He or she can then inform you of less expensive alternatives and contact the doctor for a cheaper alternative. At Olden's we watch out for our patient's expenses, are qualified to make alternative suggestions, and  are willing to take the time to do so.

So, mute the TV or better yet turn it off and stop by Olden's. Switching is easy and can be done by computer, phone, or mail.

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Must Have Meds for College Freshman

Posted by Joan MacArthur on Aug 30, 2015 3:59:00 PM

grad-cartoon-collegeVicodin, not what you want your child taking for a sore throat, but  that's what the health office at my daughter's college gave her. Luckily, she called home and managed what turned out to be mono with rest, fluids and the Ibuprofen ( Advil )  we had packed in her Olden's Care Kit. 

A trip to the health office is never a bad idea. But for the common cold, stomach flu, mild pain, scrapes, rashes  and even hangovers  a few over the counter items can let your student stay in bed and rest  ( which is usually the best medicine ). So grab a medium sized plastic tote, a black marker pen, and head to Olden's for the Back to School basics

Multivitamins: Any store brand is fine. Suggest they put the bottle right next to their toothbrush, so they will remember to take one tablet every day. Use your black marker to write DAILY on the bottle. 

Pain Relievers: Must haves. Acetaminophen (Tylenol ) and Ibuprofen ( Advil ) are both necessary. Why both? acetaminophen relieves pain and fevers, but if the fever or pain is persistent you can reach the maximum daily dose of 3000mg quickly. Ibuprofen relieves pain, fever AND inflammation, but needs to be taken with food which is sometimes difficult. The best remedy is to alternate the two pain relievers. Start with 650mg of acetaminophen for mild pain, fever over 101 degrees (seek medical help @103 degrees ). If no relief, take 400mg of Ibuprofen 4-6 hours after the first acetaminophen dose and continue to alternate doses.  Mark bottles  Pain 1 and Pain 2 and add "with Food" to the Ibuprofen. 


Decongestant: Daytime use only. Psuedoephedrine ( Sudafed ) behind the RX counter works better the PSE versions. Decongestents act on the nasal passages to narrow blood vessels that are causing nasal congestion.   Avoid the long-acting formulas because decongestents are also stimulents, can cause agitation, sleeplessness and dryness of the mouth and nasal passages. Avoid taking after dinner and increase fluid intake to combat dryness and keep mucus thin. Mark box.  Stuffy nose, colds, Daytime ONLY- drink extra fluids


Antihistamines:  Use for allergy season or at the first signs of a cold (sneezing, runny eyes and nose)  Loratadine (Claritin) or Cetrizine (Zyrtec) . Avoid  Benadryl (diphenhydramine), it works great, but knocks you out. Mark boxes Allergy- Runny-nose, Sneezing. 

 Anti-diarrheals. The best medicine for an upset stomach is BRAT, banannas, rice, applesauce, toast along with fluids. If that doesn't work and they have to get to class, Imodium works well. Mark the box. For Diarrhea, eat lightly, drink plenty of fluids. 


First aid: Two topical meds need to be included.  Antiobiotic Ointment  and Hydrocortisone Cream. Use the antibiotic any time the skin is broken, cuts, scrapes, infected pimples etc. Use the Hydrocortisone whenever the skin itches, rashes, bites, dermatitis. Mark this box, For Itchy Skin, Rashes, Bites. Mark the Antibiotic ointment Cuts, Scrapes, Sore Skin( bumps or pimples). Add instant ice packs, a thermometer, band-aids and your done. 

By marking the boxes, you minimiize the "what do I take" confusion. How much to take and any cautions are cleary described on each product.  By following the package instructions and your handwritten notes your freshman can treat some of life's most common ailments sucessfully.

Don't hesitate to put Olden's phone number 781-337-0187 on the outside of the tote, if they need additional  advise we are happliy here for them. Paul, Bill and I have  successfully sent sent 7 freshman off to college, and we sort of miss the phone calls!

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Remembering a Friend & the American Heart Association

Posted by Joan MacArthur on Feb 5, 2015 2:12:00 PM

This fall, Olden’s lost one of our dearest friends to heart disease. Rich Anderson was only sixty. He didn’t smoke, was not overweight, had no family history of heart problems, no elevated cholesterol or blood pressure. Rich had no warning except neck pain and "heartburn.” Rich even exercised by cutting wood and taking a long walks with his best friend and wife, Peggy.

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Tylenol vs Advil. Who wins the pain relief battle?

Posted by Joan MacArthur on Jan 27, 2015 6:56:00 PM

Tylenol vs Advil.  Which one is better? Which one is safer? Which one should I buy? 

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3 Flu Facts You Need when the Flu Vaccine is Only 30% Effective

Posted by Joan MacArthur on Jan 21, 2015 7:47:00 PM

We are going have to use our common sense to fight the flu this year. The 2017-2018  flu vaccine is only 30% effective.

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Olden's Pharmacy Manages Healthcare Confusion with New Programs

Posted by Joan MacArthur on Dec 2, 2014 9:21:53 AM

At Olden's Pharmacy, we watched from our front windows with sadness when the Fogg Library closed and we celebrated with the community at the library's re-opening.  Although elated with the outcome, we did become mindful that Olden's plight could be the same as the library's.

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Just what the heck are probiotics!?

Posted by Joan MacArthur on Jul 9, 2014 5:24:57 PM

For a stomach ache, Peter Rabbit's mother put him to bed with some chamomile tea. Your own mother likely gave you warm ginger ale and soda crackers to settle an upset stomach. Both remedies still work great for occasional stomach distress, but if you spend more days than not with a "lousy" stomach, it might be time to call the doctor or your friendly Olden's Pharmacy pharmacist and ask for something new.

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The 13 Most Common Excuses for Not Wearing Sunscreen

Posted by Joan MacArthur on Jul 1, 2014 10:53:00 AM

One of my Dad's favorite greetings was "you look great...you got some sun today". He loved to see you with a pink nose, cheeks, and shoulders. To him a little sun made you healthy, and showed that you had spent a day outdoors having fun.

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News | Olden's Pharmacy in Weymouth writes a personal prescription for the future

Posted by Joan MacArthur on Mar 22, 2014 3:06:00 PM
From the Patriot Ledger, March 19, 2014 
WEYMOUTH -- In today’s pharmaceutical-provider market, competition is stiff. Major pharmacy chains, insurance-required prescription-by-mail programs, big-box stores with pharmacies and small independent pharmacies all try to maximize their shares of the prescription-filling business. The retailers also offer health and beauty products.
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Press Release: Olden’s Pharmacy Celebrates 2 Million Prescriptions

Posted by Joan MacArthur on Mar 5, 2014 9:20:00 PM

Independent Pharmacy Reaches Milestone by Minding the Past, Focusing on Future

(Originally Released | February 10, 2014) 

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