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How Do You Refill A Prescription

by Dan Hughes
How Do You Refill A Prescription

How Do You Refill A Prescription

Prescriptions are like the sun in the sky — they’re always there and we need them every day. But sometimes it’s hard to remember when our prescriptions will expire. That’s because unlike other medications, such as aspirin, which can be taken at any time without worry of running out, most prescriptions should not be taken more than once per month. This is to prevent drug resistance, a problem where bacteria become resistant to certain antibiotics over time. The same goes for many antiviral drugs used against colds and flu viruses.
However, if you miss taking a dose of medication, you may run into problems later on. In particular, people who take statins (drugs used to lower cholesterol) should never stop taking their medicine too soon. Statin therapy works by slowing down cholesterol production so you must stay on a regular schedule of taking them. And even though doctors usually recommend that you get all of your vitamins from food rather than supplements, some vitamin pills actually contain ingredients that interact badly with each other. For example, multivitamins containing iron and folic acid shouldn’t be taken together because this could cause anemia.
So how do you know when your prescription expires? It depends what kind of prescription you have. If you have a script for a generic drug, then it probably won’t matter until your next refill due date comes around. Generic versions of brand-name drugs are cheaper but still just copies of the original version. They lack the trademarked qualities of the name brand drugs, such as the colorings and flavoring agents added during manufacturing. These differences aren’t very important to most people. However, if you have brand-name meds, you’ll want to make sure you’re using the correct ones.
Brand-names are usually reserved for patented medicines, including both new and older drugs. Patent protection lasts 20 years for new drugs and 10 years for already existing ones. After these times pass, generic versions can be made that offer the exact same active ingredient(s) found in the brand-named version. Generic products can also have different inactive ingredients, or fillers, than their brand-name counterparts. Since these additives can affect how the body responds to a drug, it’s best to stick to generics that use exactly the same fillers as the originals.
The expiration dates stamped on the outside of pill bottles only apply to the package inserts inside those boxes. So if you happen to lose one of these inserts, you can find the information printed right on the bottle itself.
Some pharmacies sell refills ahead of time. This means you could buy your prescription early and save money on future visits to the pharmacy. But buying refills ahead of time isn’t recommended unless you really need them. First, you may end up paying extra since this practice often involves markups of about $10. Second, you could accidentally give someone else your refills. Also, the pharmacy may not have enough stock on hand when you go back for refills, leaving you waiting in line while others are served first. Finally, you could forget to pick up your refills.
Now let’s look at how to refill a prescription. Most pharmacies will allow you to renew prescriptions online. Depending on your insurance plan, however, you may have to call the company directly to receive your refills. Let’s start with how to renew a traditional non-generic prescription.
Refilling Non-Generic Drugs
Before you head to the pharmacy, gather all your current prescriptions, along with any relevant medical records. Bring your ID card, insurance card and health insurance policy. Then, follow these steps:
Call the pharmacy and ask about your prescription. Find out whether you’ve reached the maximum number of refills allowed for the month. If yes, you’ll have to pay a higher price. Ask about cash discounts available for seniors, students, veterans, disabled persons and members of the armed forces.
Ask the pharmacist if the prescription is covered under your insurance plan.
Find out if the pharmacy accepts personal checks. If so, check with your bank beforehand to confirm that your account has sufficient funds for the purchase.
Make sure you bring your prescription with you to avoid having to wait in line.
Pay attention to the amount of the bill. Make sure you have enough money to cover the full cost of the prescription. If you don’t, you’ll either have to come back another time with additional funds or skip that medication altogether.
Once you’ve paid, leave your prescriptions behind. Don’t dispose of them yourself. Instead, return them to the pharmacy within 30 days. If you keep them, throw away the unused portion. Otherwise, you could face penalties.
Your prescription needs to be renewed after 14 days of missed doses. Call the pharmacy immediately to notify them that you haven’t been keeping up with your schedule.
To learn about how to refill a prescription for brand-name drugs, read the next page.
Refilling Brand-Named Drugs
Unlike non-generic drugs, brand-named prescriptions are protected by patents. Patents last between 20 and 25 years, depending on the type of drug. Once a patent expires, generic versions can be created. These drugs usually cost less than the brand-named version. You can choose to keep the generic version instead of switching to the newer, pricier brand-name product. Or you can switch brands after the patent expires. Either way, here’s what to do:
Check the expiry date on the label. Many companies change the expiration dates of their products several times throughout the year. Always check the actual date on the bottle.
Bring the filled prescription to the pharmacy.
Tell the pharmacist how long ago you stopped taking the drug and why. Remember, the longer you took off, the more likely it is that bacteria would develop resistance to the drug.
Take note of the total amount charged to your account. Compare this with the amount listed on your prescription. If there is a difference, discuss it with your pharmacist. He or she can help explain why this happened.
Pay for the prescription. Personal checks are acceptable only if you have sufficient funds in your checking account. Otherwise, you will have to pay by credit card.
Leave your prescription behind. Don’t dispose of it yourself. You will have to return it within 21 days. If you keep it, throw away the unused portion. Otherwise, you could face penalties.
As far as refilling a prescription is concerned, that’s pretty much everything you need to know. Now you can relax knowing that you’ll never run out of your favorite pain reliever again!

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