Drug Costs

How to Get an Emergency Prescription Refill

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You try to take your medication on time and manage your health condition, but mistakes happen. You may find yourself out of medication unexpectedly at some point. Whether you’re on vacation and forgot to pack your Rx or you just forgot to call your pharmacy and order the next month’s supply, you may be able to get an emergency supply of your prescription.

Obtaining an Emergency Supply of Your Medication

The best thing to do when you realize you’re going to run out of medication is call your doctor. They may be willing to contact the pharmacy of your choice so you can get a prescription filled there. Even if it’s after-hours, call anyway and leave a message explaining the situation.

If you cannot get in touch with your doctor or you are in immediate need of your medication, go to a nearby pharmacy and tell them you need an emergency supply. You may be required to provide proof of your Rx, so bring your prescription bottle with you. If the pharmacist determines that going without the drug will endanger your health or wellbeing, they are able to dispense an emergency 72-hour (three-day) supply.

Another option is to go to an urgent care clinic. A doctor there may write you a prescription for a one-time dose to hold you over until you can get in touch with your primary care physician.

Medications Eligible for Emergency Supply

Keep in mind that the pharmacist will only dispense an emergency supply if they determine that your health will be harmed by going without the medication. This is usually the case with medications for chronic illnesses and life-threatening conditions like high blood pressure or seizures.

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Laws about emergency prescription refills vary by state. Some states only allow emergency prescriptions to be dispensed during a state of emergency and/or natural disaster. Many states also have regulations about dispensing an emergency supply of Schedule II drugs and other substances with a high potential for abuse.

Getting an Emergency Prescription During a Natural Disaster

A natural disaster often leaves people without their normal supply of prescription drugs. Residents may have to evacuate at a moment’s notice. Their current supply of medication may be left behind or destroyed by flood waters or power outages.

Many states allow pharmacists to dispense up to a 30-day supply of medication in the case of a natural disaster or other emergency. If you’re still at home but your medication has been destroyed or has run out, contact your pharmacy for an emergency prescription. For evacuees, the best option may be to transfer prescriptions to another pharmacy until they can return home.

If you are unable to reach a pharmacy due to flooding or other bad road conditions, try to get medication mailed to you, or transfer to a pharmacy that offers mail-order services. You can always transfer back when the emergency passes.

Plan Ahead When Possible

Although many of these situations arise unexpectedly, try to plan ahead to make sure you don’t run out of medication. Make sure you create an emergency preparedness plan. If you know you’re going to need a refill while traveling, you may be able to order it in advance. Some health insurance plans allow for prescription overrides so that you can get a prescription filled early, or obtain more than a 30-day supply.

If your insurance doesn’t allow this, you may be able to get the extra medication you need by paying out of pocket. However, not all prescriptions are able to be filled early, especially for medications that have a high potential for abuse. Talk to your doctor about what you should do if you know you’re going to be traveling but cannot fill a prescription early.

Save on Emergency Prescriptions

You may have to pay for an emergency prescription out of pocket, especially if your Rx requires prior authorization with your insurance company. Make sure you always have savings in your pocket by downloading the ScriptSave WellRx app. You can search for pharmacies near you and compare prices instantly to get the best discount.

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