Medication Refills: What You Need to Know Dr. Elizabeth Carter
Medication Refills: Tips Your Pharmacist Wants You to Know
1. Call 3 – 4 days before you are out of your medication. Calling in a refill last minute can put unnecessary stress on everyone involved. Sometimes barriers prevent pharmacists from filling medications immediately. If the pharmacy does not have your medication in stock, it needs to be ordered from the pharmacy’s supplier; this adds at least one day to filling time. If you place your refill on a Friday or over the weekend, it is likely that the pharmacy cannot receive out-of-stock medications until the following Monday.
Another possible situation is that there are no refills left on your prescription. If this is the case, the pharmacy has to contact your prescriber to obtain authorization to refill your medication. Often, medical offices take 2 – 3 days to respond to a refill request and are out of the office on weekends. To ensure you do not go without your medication for any length of time you should call for a refill 3 – 4 days before you are out of a medication.
2. Be patient while waiting for your medication. With the addition of drive-through pharmacies patients often expect their mediation to be ready immediately, just as food is ready immediately at a fast-food restaurant. However, unlike a fast-food restaurant, pharmacists and technicians are working hard to make sure your medication order is safe for you.
Pharmacists check for interactions with your other medications and your allergies, they ensure proper dosing, and they confirm that the product you are receiving is indeed the drug your prescriber intended you to get. All of this is done to prevent unnecessary medication errors. It is important to give pharmacists time to check your medication properly.
3. Unfortunately, your community pharmacist does not set drug prices. Drug prices have been increasing recently, and patients have been feeling the effects in their wallets. Pharmacists are just as frustrated as patients; increased prices mean increased acquisition costs for pharmacies and decreased medication adherence among patients. Unfortunately, your insurance company sets copays for your medications and a pharmacist is not able to “just charge what it was the last time.” It is important to read any letters that come from your insurance company alerting you to changes in your drug coverage.
4. Ask questions! Pharmacists are the medication experts. Discuss your medication concerns with your pharmacist; they may be able to tell you if a new symptom is due to a medication you are taking or if you should consult your physician about it. They are able to teach you how to use confusing devices such as inhalers, insulin pens, and glucometers. They are the most accessible healthcare provider and they are a great resource for your medication questions and concerns.
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