4 Common Questions About Refilling Prescriptions

4 Common Questions About Refilling Prescriptions

With more people relying on prescription medications to maintain or improve their health, refilling prescriptions is just another part of a regular medication regimen and health plan. Sadly, a study posted in The New York Times suggests that nearly 30% of prescription medications are never filled and nearly 50% of patients don’t use their chronic disease treatments as prescribed.

Even though refilling prescriptions have been made more straightforward than ever, people still tend to be confused about the process. They aren’t sure if they need to revisit the doctor or if their insurance will continue covering a refill.

Understanding the refill process for prescription drugs is the first step to ensuring patients have the right medications.

Here are some common questions regarding refilling prescriptions:

How Are Prescriptions Given?

The days of a doctor handing you a piece of paper with a written prescription on it are long gone, at least in most medical practices. Instead of pulling out the old pad and paper, your doctor will typically send your new prescription directly to the pharmacy. The Pharmacist will get the order and start working on it right away. Some healthcare providers even have pharmacies onsite that can fill your prescription right away.

It is still possible to get a physical or digital prescription, but you may have to ask for it.

How Are Refills Determined?

Your original prescription will typically have instructions on if and how many times your medication can be refilled. In some cases, the medicine is highly controlled and refills are not an option. In these situations, you would be required to get a new prescription from your doctor.

Other prescriptions can be refilled several times. Doctors have to consider how long you’ll take the medicine and how long a particular batch will last. At the same time, your physician may want to see you now and again to check on your progress or ensure there aren’t any negative side effects. That’s it’s rare to see unlimited refills on most medications. More importantly, your health insurance may require justification that a particular medicine is still needed.

Does My Health Insurance Cover Refills?

Every health insurance plan is different, so you must check with your insurance provider to ensure your medicine is still covered. Your policy may not cover more than so many refills without visiting the doctor or you might be covered.

Since there are so many factors that determine what is and isn’t covered by the various insurance plans out there, it’s best to direct your questions to the holder of your policy.

How Do I Submit a Refill Request?

Most of the time, you can simply call your pharmacy to submit that your medication is refilled. Make sure you have all of the necessary information before making that call as you’ll most likely deal with an automated system. Luckily, most of this information can be found on your existing prescription label.

Rx Number

Your pharmacist can most likely look up your prescription (Rx) number, but it’s helpful if you have it on hand. If you’re using an automated system, there will not be an option to look up your number.

Contact Information

Your prescription should have the phone number and address of the pharmacy you’re using. The phone number provided is the one you’ll use to call in your prescription.

You may also be able to request a medication refill from your pharmacist online or via an app on your phone, especially if you’re using an online pharmacy. Make sure to double-check all of your information.

Refilling Prescriptions Information

The label on your medication should also have information regarding the number of refills allowed. If you’ve run out of refills of your medicine doesn’t contain this information, you may need to set up an appointment with your healthcare provider.

What If Something In My Life Changes?

You might find yourself in a situation where you’re taking additional medicines, vitamins, treatments, or over-the-counter drugs. On the flip side, you might stop taking something you’ve been on for a while. Whenever there is a change to your medication routine, it’s worth talking to your pharmacist about potential side effects.

Drug interactions can be very serious or life-threatening, so you must be honest about anything you put into your body. Your pharmacist will know if you should expect any side effects. If you notice a negative drug interaction, you might even be able to get advice on alternative medicines that won’t cause issues.

For example, if you start taking a new drug like Ozempic, you want to be aware of any Ozempic side effects. This type 2 diabetes medication can be associated with nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and more. If you were taking another antidiabetic medicine could have serious effects. The Ozempic cost in this case could be deadly.

Where Can I Order a Prescription Refill?

There are multiple kinds of pharmacies out there, so you’re not stuck to just one option. One of the most popular options is to use a local pharmacy. There are stand-alone stores like Walgreens or CVS that can handle all of your prescriptions. You might also stop by a pharmacy in a local big boxes store like Walmart or even a grocery store.

If you use a local pharmacy, try to stick to the same one so they can keep a complete record of your medicines.

Another option is a mail-order or online pharmacy. These options can often provide better prices for the same medicines since they don’t have to pay for and staff a brick and motor location. The website you use should have instructions on how to properly upload or transfer your prescription. Avoid any website that promises to provide medicine without a prescription as it could be illegal or a scam.

Final Thoughts on Refilling Prescriptions

Even though modern technology has made it easier to research and understand prescriptions or add convenience to prescription refills, it’s not always as simple as pharmacies would like to think that it is.

Luckily, we at PharmaServe have worked hard to take all of the guesswork out of getting the medicine you need. Our team of licensed pharmacists can handle all your questions to ensure you’re getting your refills on time at a lower price.

Dr. Conor Sheehy, PharmD, BCPS is a practicing clinical pharmacist that works in primary care. He supports other members of the healthcare team including physicians, mid-level providers, nurses, and other clinical staff. He also likes to use his drug knowledge to inform his patients and the public about the benefits and risks they can expect from their medications. His clinical specialties include: anticoagulation, diabetes management, and psychiatric care.

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