Can You Fill Two Of The Same Prescriptions
When a doctor writes a prescription, it is for single use only. In other words, you typically cannot get two of the same prescriptions at one time. Insurance companies do not usually cover the same medication and dosage combination more than once in a 14-day period (90 days). Some insurance plans may have an out-of-pocket limit that can apply if you fill your own prescriptions or buy them from retail pharmacies. If you are taking multiple medications on a regular basis this could have serious implications for your health. For example, let’s say you take Lipitor for high cholesterol and Crestor for blood pressure control. When you go to refill these prescriptions with another pharmacy, they might write “Lipitor 40 mg” instead of “40mg.” This means that you would need to take double the amount of medicine because of the way the drug was written. While taking additional medicines may seem like a good idea to treat symptoms such as headaches, colds and flus, there are many reasons why doctors recommend against doubling up on any given medication. Taking too much medication increases side effects, costs money and reduces effectiveness.
It also puts you at risk for overdosing. Just imagine how many people I see every day who have taken their entire supply of pills over the counter when they had stomach flu or some other type of illness. They were able to stop the problem by simply getting enough rest and fluids but they did so without realizing it. As we all know, taking extra medicine when sick does not help make us feel better. It actually makes things worse. There are many medical conditions where doubling up is recommended; however, there are others where it is not. Always consult your physician before doubling up on a prescribed medication.
If you are thinking about filling two different scripts at the same time, here are some guidelines that should prevent you from making a bad decision. First, check your plan benefits to determine whether you can fill both prescriptions together or not. Second, ask your pharmacist what he recommends. He has access to patient information and can provide a recommendation based on his experience. Third, always follow the directions exactly on the script. Never add anything to the script yourself and never change a dosage. A mistake in writing can lead to problems later on down the road. Finally, keep in mind that drugs vary widely in potency. Make sure to read the label carefully and understand how much medicine you are taking. Even though you may be taking the exact same medication, it may still cause unwanted side effects if the dose is incorrect.
The last thing you want to do is start taking a new medication and then find out that it interacts badly with something else you’re already taking. Let’s say you are taking several different kinds of heart medications including aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix) and prasugrel (Effient). Your cardiologist orders a stress test which requires you to fast overnight before arriving for testing. Unfortunately, you forgot to tell him that you are fasting for 8 hours prior to testing. The morning after fasting, you begin eating breakfast and lunch. At dinner, you eat steak and cheese along with a few beers. Afterward, you lie down for your usual evening nap. During the night, you wake up feeling very weak and confused. Later, you discover that you’ve been having a major reaction to the Plavix you took earlier in the day. Since Plavix inhibits platelets, the clotting agents in your blood were inhibited. With no protection, your blood began to form clots throughout your body. Fortunately, the Efient that you took at bedtime had reduced the damage caused by the Clopidogrel. However, now that you’ve experienced the full effect of the interaction between the two drugs, you’ll probably avoid future mistakes. Be honest and forthcoming with your healthcare provider regarding any changes in your lifestyle, diet or current medication usage. And remember – don’t drink alcohol while taking Coumadin or Warfarin. These drugs interact badly with each other.
Copyright 2009 Health News Colorado, LLC. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.
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