Using of Stockpile medication in emergency

Get Early Refills

You cannot refill your medications whenever you want. Your healthcare provider has to write a prescription, your insurance company has to then approve the prescription for coverage, and your pharmacy (local or mail-order) has to dispense the medication. Underlying all this are federal rules about the frequency of medication refills as well as rules set by your health plan.

The Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy recommends pharmacists refill medications no sooner than after 75% of the prescription has been used.1 In simple terms, a non-controlled medication can be refilled as early as seven days before a 30-day supply runs out and 21 days before a 90-day supply runs out. Some pharmacies and insurers restrict refills to two days before the refill is due whether it’s a 30-day or 90-day prescription.

Due to their addictive potential, federal regulations put a tighter time restriction for refills of controlled medications. Schedule III and Schedule IV medications, like codeine (II, III, or V) or Valium (IV), cannot be filled sooner than two days before a 30-day supply runs out.

If you refill your non-controlled medication seven days early every month, you will have accumulated an extra six-week supply after six months, and a three-month supply after one year. This is one way to stockpile medication.

However, some insurance companies will not refill medications based on cumulative early refills. They will claim that you have enough medication and will not approve a refill until the dispensed quantity of medication is used.

There may be valid reasons to get an early prescription refill. Perhaps you lost your medication or are going away on vacation. Perhaps your mail-order delivery will not arrive in time and you would otherwise be forced to miss doses.

In situations like these, you may be able to ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist for an emergency refill. Some health plans may even have provisions for “travel exceptions” and “emergency exceptions” that override their usual prescription rules. Otherwise, your practitioner will need to make a plea to the insurer directly to cover any early refills.

If you are unable to reach your medical professional for any reason, your pharmacist can usually provide a three-day supply if a medication is deemed medically necessary. You could also consider seeking care at an urgent care clinic to get a short-term emergency prescription written by a healthcare provider until your own healthcare provider is available.

As of 2020, at least 17 states have enacted Kevin’s Law, allowing for emergency refills of insulin by a pharmacist. The law was written in honor of 36-year-old Kevin Houdeshell who died from diabetic ketoacidosis in 2014 after he was unable to reach his practitioner for a refill on his insulin. Ohio first passed the legislation in 2015.

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