By Joe Graedon, M.S., and Teresa Graedon, Ph.D.
Q. Last summer, I read that my favorite spray-on sunscreen contained benzene. Is that still a problem?
A. You are right that last July the Food and Drug Administration announced a “voluntary recall” of some Neutrogena and Aveeno aerosol sunscreen products because of the presence of benzene. On June 9, 2022, the FDA answered questions about benzene contamination in drugs and other consumer products but failed to provide a current list of products to avoid (tinyurl.com/3h3hj6hu).
One source of unintentional benzene comes from propellants such as isobutane. Although aerosol sprays may be convenient, you might want to switch to a cream or lotion this summer while the FDA continues to monitor for benzene.
Q. I have been taking brand-name Celebrex for more than a decade to ease chronic back pain. My insurance company now says that I will have to use the generic celecoxib instead.
It does not work as well to ease my pain. I cannot afford to pay for brand-name Celebrex out of pocket.
The FDA needs to provide appropriate protocols for generic drugs and hold those who produce junk medicine accountable.
Is there a generic company that is trustworthy?
A. Other readers have expressed similar complaints about generic forms of the pain reliever celecoxib. We have notified the FDA about this problem but have not received a satisfactory answer.
Brand-name Celebrex is pricey. A month’s supply could cost more than $500. Even with a coupon from a company like GoodRx, the price could be over $400.
If your pharmacy can order the authorized generic from Greenstone (now sold by Viatris), you could save money and still get brand-name quality.
Another option would be to order brand-name Celebrex from a legitimate Canadian pharmacy. A three-month supply (100 pills) would cost anywhere from $90 to $200, depending where it is shipped from.
To learn more about authorized generic drugs and online Canadian pharmacies, you may wish to consult our eGuide to Saving Money on Medicines.
This electronic resource is available under the Health eGuides tab at www.PeoplesPharmacy.com.
Q. I keep reading about the ivermectin controversy for treating COVID-19. No one talks about the use of this drug to control rosacea. I use ivermectin in a compounded gel form for rosacea, and it is quite effective.
Most people don’t realize that rosacea has a parasite component. It is unclear whether the parasite causes rosacea or is opportunistic in the presence of rosacea. Either way, this treatment works!
I had an extreme breakout a year ago that finally cleared up with doxycycline and the gel. Now I use tiny amounts of both and have had no further flares.
A. Symptoms of rosacea include frequent blushing, persistently red skin and small bumps that look a lot like pimples, although they are not. Dermatologists suspect that some of these symptoms may result from the immune system reacting to the presence of skin mites, Demodex follicularum. Although these are normal skin inhabitants, people with rosacea appear to host more of them, possibly due to subtle differences in immune response (Journal of Dermatology, August 2021).
The FDA has approved topical 1% ivermectin cream under the brand name Soolantra. This treatment is effective for severe rosacea (Expert Opinion on Pharmacotherapy, April 2018).
In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of King Features, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL 32803, or email them via their website: www.PeoplesPharmacy.com. Their newest book is “Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them.”
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