How to refill a prescription for my medication

How To Refill A Prescription – What You Need To Know

Learning how to refill a prescription and take the medication as prescribed (medication adherence) is critical to your health. In fact, missing multiple doses because you can’t make it to the pharmacy to pick up them up or because you don’t know how to refill a prescription can set back your treatment plan dramatically.

Although there are some prescription refill rules to be aware of, it is more straightforward than it seems. Let’s take a look at the steps to do it, as well as some common questions you might have along the way!

Refill A Prescription infographic

Check Your Prescription Label

Prescription Medicine Labels

The first step to refilling a prescription is to make sure you have refills available. You can determine this by looking at the label on your prescription bottle or box. It should say “refills” with a number next to it and a date by which you need to refill it. To refill your prescription without seeing your doctor, this number should be higher than 0.

If it’s 0 or the “date has passed,” then you are not eligible for a refill just yet. In other words, you will need to set up an appointment with your doctor or ask your pharmacist to request a new prescription on your behalf. If you are eligible for a refill, hang onto your prescription bottle because it will help your pharmacy identify the prescription and approve a refill.

Contact Your Doctor (if necessary)

If you don’t have any refills remaining, you will need to contact your doctor. According to CPSA, depending on your doctor and the medication, they may be able to approve a prescription refill over the phone. However, for controlled substances and some other health conditions, your doctor may need you to make an appointment first. Set up an appointment as soon as possible in order to avoid any delays in your treatment.

Coordinate With The Pharmacy

The Pharmacy

Once you are approved for a prescription refill, all you need to do is coordinate with the pharmacy. You’ll likely need to reference the Rx number on your label and verify your identity. If, for some reason, you have misplaced the label or thrown away the box, you can ask your pharmacist to look up the prescription you’re requesting.

When you contact your pharmacist for a refill prescription, don’t hesitate to ask questions. Are you experiencing any side effects from the medication? Are you having trouble swallowing the pills or wondering if you can take an over-the-counter medicine at the same time?

Your pharmacist is an incredible resource to talk to about any questions or concerns you have, so be sure to use them!

According to MedlinePlus, to help the pharmacist fill the prescription:

  • Make sure all of the information is filled in clearly.

  • Bring your insurance card the first time you fill the prescription.

  • When calling the pharmacy for a refill, make sure to give your name, the prescription number, and the name of the medicine.

How to Get a Refill Without a Doctor

According to ExpressScripts, If you don’t have any remaining refills for a prescription, contact your doctor. Your doctor might order some tests or ask to see you before renewing your prescription. Some states have rules that require you to visit your doctor or pharmacist before getting refills.

How Early Can You Refill a Prescription?

Refill a Prescription

Generally, 7 days is the earliest you will be able to request a refill if your prescription is covered by insurance since your drug plan will only cover an allowed amount within a certain period of time. For instance, your plan may only cover 30 pills for 30 days. However, there are a few exceptions to this.

For example, if you need a refill early because you are traveling or have lost your medication, then many insurance plans will allow an exception. The only catch is that your pharmacist may require some sort of explanation in order to allow an early fill for these one-off cases.

Can I Refill a Narcotic Prescription?

The DEA prohibits a narcotic prescription from being refilled. In other words, Schedule 2 controlled substances like Oxycontin and Adderall will require a prescriber to write a new prescription every time.

In special cases, an individual practitioner may issue multiple prescriptions for up to a total of 90 days’ supply of a Schedule 2 controlled substance, provided that specific conditions are met.

However, a pharmacist may still refuse to fill a prescription that they deem inappropriate. Individual practitioners must decide on their own, along with established medical standards, whether it is appropriate to issue multiple prescriptions.

What If You Run Out of Refills

If you have met the number of refills listed on your prescription label or you don’t have any refills, you will need to contact your doctor. In some cases, they may be able to approve a refill over the phone. However, if you have already had multiple refills and it’s been some time since your last check-up, you’ll likely need to schedule an appointment.

Keep this in mind if you are nearing the bottom of your bottle and out of refills. Try to be proactive and make sure you talk with your doctor ahead of time, so you don’t miss a dose.

How to Get an Emergency Refill

If you do find yourself out of medication and unable to reach your doctor, you may be able to get an emergency prescription refill.

Many states have laws that allow emergency refills in this case or in the case of loss or damage. These laws, inspired by Kevin’s Law, are meant to provide an emergency supply of life-saving medications, such as insulin, when a prescriber can’t be reached. Depending on the state, pharmacists can dispense an emergency 72-hour or 30-day supply.

Keep in mind that these laws don’t apply to all medications and exclude controlled substances such as painkillers. If you’re in need of an emergency prescription, contact your healthcare provider and your pharmacist to get the medication you need as soon as possible.

Prescription refill rules vary between insurance plans. Refill rules can also depend on the state or territory you’re in and the type of medication being filled. – Christina Aungst, PharmD

Can I Refill My Prescription Without Insurance?

Refill My Prescription Without Insurance

Yes, you can refill your prescription without insurance. If you want to refill your prescription before your insurance will allow it, you can simply pay for it out-of-pocket. This is the case only if you have refills available.

You can also reach out to your doctor and submit a quantity limit exception request. If your insurance grants your request, you will be able to refill your prescription without needing to pay for it out-of-pocket.

Although you don’t need to be insured to get a prescription refill, the cost of medications will most likely be higher if you’re uninsured. – Craig Sorkin, DNP, APN

Final Words

Refilling a prescription doesn’t have to be a hassle. By understanding your medication needs, keeping track of your refill dates, and communicating effectively with your healthcare provider and pharmacy, you can ensure a smooth and stress-free process.

Remember, staying proactive about your health is key, and managing your medication refills is an integral part of that journey. So, take charge, stay informed, and never hesitate to reach out for help when needed.

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