Q: Why is the Upjohn Company promoting its baldness remedy so aggressively?When I first saw the ads for Rogaine I called the toll-free 800 number just to see what would happen. I have been bald for years and what I've read in your column about this drug is not very encouraging.
They sent a letter recommending three doctors in my area who could prescribe Rogaine along with a $10 certificate to help pay for the visit. But $10 doesn't pay for a doctor visit by a long shot.
I recently received a follow-up letter urging me to make an appointment and redeem my certificate. I'm angry because I feel this is a violation of my privacy. Are they so desperate that they have to keep hounding me? How do I get my name off their mailing list?
A: Rogaine Topical Solution (minoxidil) has not taken the market by storm. Although it is the sole FDA-approved baldness treatment, only about 30 to 40 percent of the men who use Rogaine get noteworthy results.
Someone such as yourself who has been bald for a long time probably won't see much improvement. And you'd be out a lot more than $10 to have a doctor tell you that.
The full-page ads, toll-free numbers, and $10 rebates are unusual tactics for promoting prescription medicine. To get your name removed from their list, you may have to write to the Upjohn Company, P.O. Box 9030, Opa Locka, Fla. 33054-9944.
Q: I read in a magazine article that Monistat, a prescription cream used for vaginal infections, is the same as Micatin, an over-the-counter athlete's foot remedy.
I checked Micatin at the drugstore and it is much less expensive than the Monistat my doctor prescribed last week. If these two drugs are really the same, couldn't I use the Micatin instead of refilling my prescription?
A: This is a tricky one. The anti-fungal ingredient in Micatin athlete's foot cream is miconazole, the identical drug in Monistat vaginal formula. Even the inactive ingredients are the same.
A 30-gram tube of Micatin purchased over-the-counter costs about $8, whereas the prescription 45-gram tube of Monistat is almost $20. We were surprised to discover that the Micatin tube even screws into the vaginal applicator that comes with Monistat.
Vaginal infections should not be self-diagnosed. But if your doctor decides that you need Monistat again, you might ask him about substituting Micatin. The savings are substantial.
Joe and Teresa Graedon answer questions from readers in their column. Write to them in care of the Greensboro News & Record, P.O. Box 20848, Greensboro, N.C. 27420.