Q. I just had to put in my two cents on dry cracked hands. My father and I used to compare how many bandages we would be wearing each week because our hands were in such bad shape.

I finally found something that worked: Surgeon’s Skin Secret. It contains beeswax, lanolin and mineral oil. It lasts a long time. I have had my jar for three years. Since beehives have been found that are 100 years old, I don’t worry about it going rancid.

Please let your readers know about this product. Working in the post office as I do dries skin out even more from the paper. This is great for mail carriers!

A. We found Surgeon’s Skin Secret on the Web at www.jamarklabs.com. According to the manufacturer, it was developed by a plastic surgeon in 1950. Some people are allergic to lanolin, so caution is appropriate.
This moisturizer is not inexpensive (about $29 for 16 oz). More economical alternatives include “barnyard beauty aids” like Bag Balm (www.bagbalm.com) or Udder Cream (www.uddercream.com), which costs about $6 for 12 oz.

Q. Some people have written you to complain that their generic drugs are less effective. That is my experience with generic Prilosec. With my last refill, the sticker said I had saved $169.99. Because I paid $10 for the 60 tablets, I guess they were worth $179.99.

When I found out they didn’t help at all, I bought some OTC Prilosec, at a cost of $24.99 for 42 tablets. The generic tablets were supposedly worth $3 each, though they did nothing, while the OTC pills at $.60 each worked just fine.

My esophagus has been damaged by acid reflux, so I pay attention to heartburn symptoms. I shudder to think what might have happened to a cancer or heart patient who got this generic omeprazole.

A. We have heard from others that generic Prilosec (omeprazole) does not always work as well as the brand name acid suppressor. Despite FDA reassurance that generics are just as good as innovator drugs, many readers of this column have a different perspective. Anyone who wishes to report a problem with generic medicine may do so at our Web site (www.peoplespharmacy.com).

Q. I love grapefruit and have used it to help lower cholesterol, curb my appetite and lose weight. My pharmacist says I must not eat grapefruit while I am taking lovastatin (a generic for Mevacor). Would it be safe if I eat my grapefruit at breakfast and take my pill in the evening?

Would there be a problem with grapefruit if I were to switch to red yeast rice? I have heard that this natural product has fewer side effects and can help lower cholesterol almost as well as lovastatin.

A. Red yeast rice contains lovastatin and other statin-type compounds. We assume that grapefruit might increase these blood levels and therefore raise the risk of side effects such as muscle pain and weakness.
Grapefruit affects dozens of other drugs as well. They include some blood pressure pills, epilepsy medicine, sleeping pills, heart medicine and estrogen. The grapefruit impact can last up to 48 hours.

We are sending you our Guides To Grapefruit Interactions and Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs with answers to frequently asked grapefruit questions. Anyone who would like copies, please send $2 in check or money order with a long (no. 10) stamped (63 cents), self-addressed envelope: Graedons' People's Pharmacy, No. JL-97, P. O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027.

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  1. קונספירציה

    I also discovered on a number of different occasions that the generic drugs are less effective then the original ones. I also did a little ‘research’ on it, and found out that it is highly probable that the pharmaceutical companies don’t always give us all the details of the drug in the patent records, in order to fight the generic drug manufacturers…
    A different cause might be, of course, the old placebo effect…

  2. Margaret Mihelich

    I’m presently taking Fexofenidine (Dr.Reddys Lab) – the taste is awful and not so effective as Allegra

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