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How Long Is A Prescription Valid

by Dan Hughes
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How Long Is A Prescription Valid

How Long Is A Prescription Valid

When you see your doctor and he writes out a prescription for some medicine, you’re probably thinking about how long the prescription is good for. But do you know exactly what “good for” means? You might be wondering if you can take that same medication again within 12 months of when you filled it last time, or whether you’ll ever run out of pills at all. Here’s the answer to both questions: Once you fill a prescription for a non-controlled drug, it is valid for a full year from the day you get it. That could mean that you can refill your prescription once per month for as long as you want to without having to worry about running out — even though your insurance company may not cover every single pill. It also means that you don’t necessarily have to wait until next January before you head back to the doctor’s office. In fact, there are some drugs which should never go off your list of prescriptions. Read on to find out why these rules apply.
The first thing you need to understand is that different types of medications require different lengths of validity. There are three main categories of controlled substances: Schedule I (drugs like heroin), II (narcotics) and III (depressants). These drugs have been deemed illegal by the Drug Enforcement Agency because they pose a high risk of abuse and addiction. Drugs in this category often come with strict regulations regarding their distribution and use. Non-controlled drugs on the other hand aren’t under federal control and therefore can be prescribed freely and legally by doctors. As a result, non-controlled drugs are subject to less stringent guidelines than schedule I through III drugs. One of those guidelines is length of validity. Like any other type of drug, non-controlled ones can only stay on your shelf for a certain period of time, but unlike schedule I through III drugs, you can keep refilling prescriptions for a longer period of time. This article will focus mainly on non-controlled drugs.
In general, non-controlled drugs remain valid for 12 months following the date of the original prescription. However, each state has its own laws regarding validity, so consult your pharmacist for more specific information. For example, in New York State, where we live, the law says that the maximum duration of validity for a non-controlled drug is two years. The reason behind this is that many people believe that taking too much of a particular drug can lead to dependency problems. Therefore, it is important to follow the dosage instructions given by your physician carefully. On the other hand, in Massachusetts, where I work, the length of validity for a non-controlled drug is six months. The reason for this shorter validity span is due to the fact that Massachusetts already had a year-long validity period when it was just a medical marijuana dispensary state.
Keep in mind that a lot depends on the exact kind of drug. Some medications, such as antibiotics, contain multiple active ingredients. Each ingredient stays on your prescription for a specific amount of days. Other medicines, such as cold remedies and pain relievers, are made up of several chemicals rather than a single substance. So while one chemical might expire after two weeks, the others in the mixture might still be effective for a year. Also, remember that the expiration date refers to the packaging itself. Many pharmacies and manufacturers put a new expiration date on the actual pill itself.
If you receive a prescription for a non-controlled drug, make sure you read the label well. Most labels will tell you the maximum number of refills allowed. They usually won’t specify the date beyond which you can no longer get refills, however. Since most pharmacies keep track of your prescriptions electronically, they should be able to let you know when your prescription expires.
On the next page, learn about the difference between generics and originals.
Some generic medications are very similar to brand name drugs and sometimes are identical. Others are completely different. Generic drugs must undergo rigorous testing before being approved by the Food and Drug Administration. To ensure safety, generic drugs generally cannot carry the same branding features as brand name products. Take Viagra as an example. When Pfizer introduced Viagra in 1998, it quickly became popular among men who were looking for erectile dysfunction treatments. Soon, competitors started making copies of the product. Although these copies contained the same active ingredients, they did not look anything like the original Viagra. Because of this, customers confused the copies with the original, resulting in serious health risks. Pfizer eventually sued these copycat companies for trademark infringement. Eventually, the courts ruled against Pfizer, saying that although the active ingredients were the same, the overall appearance of Viagra was sufficiently different enough to avoid legal issues.
Original vs. Generics
You might occasionally hear pharmacists refer to brands of aspirin as either “original” or “generic.” Original aspirin, meaning manufactured by Bayer, contains 100 percent acetylsalicylic acid. Generic forms of aspirin, on the other hand, typically contain 80 percent acetylsalicylic acid. The remaining 20 percent is composed of additives including dyes, binders, lubricants and inactive ingredients. The FDA approves both Bayer’s aspirin and competing generic versions.
Because generic drugs are cheaper than brand name alternatives, they tend to be preferred by consumers. But it is important to note that generic drugs are NOT always equal to their counterparts. Manufacturers of generic drugs must meet rigid requirements set forth by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. While generic drugs are safe and effective, they may differ slightly in composition from the original version. Always check the label carefully for details.
Now that you now how long a prescription is valid, you might wonder what happens to unused pills. It turns out that in many cases, you can simply throw away expired medications. Check with your local pharmacist to find out if this applies to your area.

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