Skip to main content

How to Get More Refills and Avoid Running Out of Your Prescription

Just your average apothecary (pharmacist), feet firmly planted behind the pharmacy counter, whose mortar and pestle are hitched to a star.

What do you do when you're out of prescription refills?

What do you do when you're out of prescription refills?

Prescription Refills

"I'm here to pick up my prescription."

"I'm sorry sir, your prescription is all out of refills."

"What? What does that mean? I have to be on this medication the rest of my life, you know. Obviously the doctor wants me to have it. What do you mean it is out of refills?"

If I had a nickel for every time this conversation (or some form of it) occurred in a local pharmacy, I would probably be writing this article from a lounge chair on my own private island in the Pacific.

Why do prescriptions run out of refills? And when they do, what do you do about it? As a pharmacist, I am aware that this question can be frustrating for patients. Running out of refills can ruin a weekend. Have you ever tried to get your medication refilled on a Friday night, only to be told it is out of refills—and you will need to wait until Monday to get more? Running out of refills wastes your time. Now you have to make another trip back to the pharmacy to pick up your pills.

This article will briefly explain the rationale behind refills, how you get more, and how to avoid running out.

Why Prescriptions Have Limited Refills

Every prescription medication in the U.S. is written with a certain number of refills allowed by your doctor. This may be a specific number (e.g., "5 refills") or a specific time frame (e.g., good for 1 year). Why? Why not just write on the prescription "FOREVER?"

There are three reasons:

  1. Federal law: Federal Law has certain restrictions on the quantities and number of refills allowed on prescription medications. See the image below.
  2. State law: Each individual state is responsible for developing and enforcing additional laws which also limit the number of refills that any prescription may be allowed.
  3. Good medical practice: Although you may be taking a prescription for the rest of your life, limiting the number of refills will ensure that patients regularly return to their physician for important follow-up appointments, monitoring, and evaluation of the effectiveness of the medication.

The number of refills that any particular prescription can be given is therefore determined both by pharmacy law and medical practice. As a rule, most prescription drugs are not authorized for more than 1 year of refills without the need to obtain a new prescription from the physician.

The Federal Controlled Substance Act

This section of Federal Law pertains to the number of refills allowed on controlled substances.

This section of Federal Law pertains to the number of refills allowed on controlled substances.

How to Get More Refills

So, how do you get more refills on your prescription? Simply put, your doctor must be contacted in one of two ways:

  1. By you
  2. By your pharmacy

Which one depends on the state you live in and the preference of your own physician. The easiest way to get a refill on your prescription is just to call the refill into the pharmacy you use. In most cases, if you are out of refills, the pharmacy will contact the prescriber for refills on your behalf. I say "most" cases, because some pharmacies may not do this, or some doctors may not allow it. But those exceptions are rare. I recommend patients allow 1-2 days for this process to occur. Then simply call the pharmacy back and see if the refill is ready.

Always call the pharmacy back before actually going to the pharmacy to pick up your prescription that was previously out of refills. Did you notice the word "always"? It is important. Although your pharmacy may have contacted your doctor...there may be many reasons why the doctor has not called in your refill yet. Save yourself some time, and make a call.

Some (not all) possible reasons why a physician may not routinely authorize a refill on your prescription:

Scroll to Continue

Read More From Healthproadvice

  1. You don't need it. Some prescriptions, like antibiotics, are intended for a one-time treatment. Others are intended for short-term therapy only.
  2. You need an appointment. As stated before, the condition you are being treated for needs monitoring. Virtually every major condition and/or disease will change over the course of a patient's life. This needs to be considered, and sometimes the prescription needs to be changed as a result.
  3. You are misusing it. If your doctor writes a prescription intended to last for 6 months, and it is gone in 3 months, something is wrong.

How to Avoid Running out of Refills

Here are a couple of hints from your friendly neighborhood pharmacist on how to avoid the frustration of running out of refills on your prescription at the pharmacy:

Check your bottle/label for refills. The prescription label should clearly state exactly how many refills your prescription has left. Note: It should also tell you when the prescription will expire (and thus cannot be filled) even if refills are left. Yes, that is right. Typically a prescription will expire in 1 year (sooner for some drugs), and after this time it cannot be refilled—no matter how many refills are left.

If you see "no refills" then make a plan. I suggest writing something on your calendar 6 days before you will be out. Write something like "Call pharmacy for Lipitor refill." Allowing 5-6 days gives you some wiggle room. Two days after you call the pharmacy, call back and see if it is ready. If not, then call your doctor's office yourself. If they tell you they will take care of it, wait 1 more day, then call the pharmacy again just to be sure.

This content is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for formal and individualized diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed medical professional. Do not stop or alter your current course of treatment. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.


Joy on December 01, 2017:

In a tornado of a recent filing for divorce this July, my doctor in MD an I had to go to where I only had family..Our ( doctor and me) came to the agreement until the divorce is straight not to worry N call N the prescriptions could be mailed to me until settled within this year..

So my scripts are some normal but a few regulate by the DEA. While I am very understanding about those ever changing laws.

Teri on November 15, 2017:

GREAT advice

Bupropion on October 17, 2017:

My owner wants to know how to get more of me

A mom on October 02, 2017:

Jennifer, I hope someone has helped you. I think you should go to an urgent care clinic. It is completely unacceptable that your primary care doctor won't fill anti-seizure medication!

My father had epilepsy and my son does, too, so your story worries me. Our medical system really let my dad down, and I hate to think it might let my son down when he grows up, too.

Jennifer on August 23, 2017:

Hi I have a question. I have seen a psychiatrist since I was 20. Im 33 now. I left my first Psychiatrist when i was 25 and went to a new one. I have been with this psychiatrist for the last 8 years. His whole practice closed in May. He gave me refills up until now. Im totally out of my one med from him and will be out of the other 2 in 20 days. I've called over 20 different psychiatric places and people. I can't get any APPTS until December. I called my insurance, my primary Dr., and a crisis center. No one can help me. I can even pay out of pocket if I have to, if I could find a psychiatrist that my insurance doesn't cover, just until I get to the psychiatrist in Dec. I don't know what to do. I get suicidal and all crazy when I'm off of my Elavil, and i get grand mal seizures when i don't have the klonopin. I've had 5 gran mal seizures in the past from tried withdraws from it. (I was going to try to get off of the klonopin but my Dr said I've been on it too long to get off of it. Im scared and I don't know what to do. Do u have any advice?

Kim on June 23, 2017:

My Dr wrote script of Ativan I take daily but up it according to my anxiety level. I was taking 2 -1 mg nightly to sleep The new refill said #75 pills ? And insurance wouldnt cover that many so they refilled 30& then 75? Why on refill line it says 1.50 refills till DEC 2017? How many pills is that and dod pharmacy make error?

Heidi newton on June 20, 2017:


Bethany on June 09, 2017:

when being on the same medication for over 4 and a half years with no problem, the same doctor every month all these years and my your last appointment I was late 15 minutes late he refused to see then or later that afternoon and I always got 2 different meds when I seen him these certain meds you cant just stop it send you body into shock so he wouldn't help me, find a new place for me, or refill one time until I got in with a new doctor and I had none as of that day he said oh well and he refuse to see or refill my medication he said find a place and tells them and reminded I cant go to anyone affiliated with same hospital he is. which everywhere I call they say that so it must be true. Ive already called my insurance in the waiting room in his office to get new places to call its months before I can get it to month others wont see me. idk how he can do that without a discussing a plan I did nothing wrong kust late to one appointment which I said I would wait all afternoon I was in non rush I would stay until he had a few minutes. How is that legal

Taush on May 31, 2017:

Im on zoloft. Have beend for over a year and lately every month i go a week without it. I call it in and just get too lazy to go get it. My dr is very awesome. I have his personal cell number because he worries about me. But my question is could i ask him to give me like 2 months on them so i dont have to get them every 30 days?

Dale M. Haskell on May 03, 2017:

I know full well why NYS has limited refills. But I lost mine after only a dat and NYS doesn't care if I spend a month in hell without it. After all,I must be a druggie or a thief,right? Fuck this state.

Kristin on January 30, 2017:

Hi , my doctor I see every threee months he writes me my script w 3 refills on it . Well after they filled it the first time it said one refill left??? It should be 2 left correct . The first one is the initial script , then after that one 3 more correct??

Ron Munoz on December 27, 2016:

Mental health

Dawn Moran on December 25, 2016:

I would love this so i dont have to go every mth i get oxycodone 10s without Tylenol can I get a refill without having to go to my Dr every mth??

Diane on December 11, 2016:

unfortunately i am in the same boat as alot of others who have commented. i have had gd insurance my whole life because I've always had a job (thru alot of hard work)& pd for insurance. Because of Obamacare I can no longer afford insurance or even a visit to a doctor. I've even taken cuts in pay to keep my job. It's insanity but now I'm starting to lose my mind, my family & work see this, as I have had to go off meds I've been on for over 20 years. WTF is going on in the USA. Obama has destroyed our insurance and medical industry. How can I get help now?

No name on August 12, 2016:

i am on xanax and the bottle says no refills i dont abuse them i use them as directed its for anxitey who do i contact to get more dr or pharm.

Debbie on February 17, 2016:

I was hit by a drunk driver in 2005 I have been on many medications for pain depression and anxiety. My primary doctor for several years has filled cymbalta and buspar I have been having severe problems with changes since December 2015 with getting to get to an appointment to see her I saw another doctor in her practice a couple months ago However since I did not see her she does not want to refill my cymbalta or busker until I see her She decided as of yesterday to called in different strengths of the medications so I can ween off them This has caused problems with my car insurance coverage of my medications My new personal injury person who handles my accident benefits now thinks I need none of my medications because of this action I called the pharmacy and cancelled the medications How do I get my primary to understand the extreme importance of her actions not only causing me troble with my auto insurance coverage benefits of paying for my medications but also not refilling my cymbalta and buspar because I am getting sick being off it I am between a rock and a hard place

Jeremy Bingham on August 18, 2015:

As a physician I've enjoyed reading the sound advice you've given on here. Keep it up.

brad on November 19, 2014:

Ok i take methodone and i run out tomorrow i have to go in to have it refilled but don't have the money for the dr vist. If i go to the er at the hospital were my dr works and he sees me in the er could he do my refill from there or would i have to see him in his office.

Rthoma31 on August 26, 2014:

Very interesting article to read...informative. My question to you is that why not pharmacies have an automated reminder system alerting pharmacist or technicians to call doctor's office for refills before patients run out of their prescription (if they filled their last refill)? If a physician would like to see the patient after a certain # of refills, then that information should be in the patient's account so the pharmacy doesn't need to call/fax for more refills.

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on June 20, 2014:

Hi Laura,

Sorry for your frustration. I recommend finding a different general practioner that will monitor all these for you. some will. keep looking. and maybe consider using a FREE prescription discount card to help bring down the costs while you reach your deductible. You can print this one out immediately online:

Laura0323 on June 19, 2014:

I have crappy insurance now with a high deductible of $4,500 so it is very frustrating for me to need to pay for an annual office visit toll at my various health care providers just to get my prescriptions refilled for chronic conditions. I see a general practitioner, a metabolic specialist (for my thyroid), a bariatric surgeon's office, an allergist, and a dermatologist. None of them are willing to renew prescriptions for each other and I can no longer afford to get my prescriptions filled for chronic conditions such as eczema, depression, sleep disorder, and thyroid problem because I can't pay for the stinking annual visits. Guess what? I'm going without. I'm getting off my prescriptions and exploring holistic alternative medicine including OTC stuff. The entire health care and prescription industry will collapse if others do the same. It's unaffordable despite the so called Affordable Care Act etc and I am done with it. I don't need you!

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on June 02, 2014:


The pharmacy may be able to direct you to local "free medication" clinics in your area, or to a "walk in clinic" where you can see someone who can give you a refill. Also, telemedicine is growing in popularity and would allow you to "see" a doctor online (for a fee) who could prescribe your Zoloft.

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on June 02, 2014:


Most states allow an "emergency" supply of medication to hold you through the weekend. Talk to the pharmacy.

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on June 02, 2014:


Have your doctor call in refills to a local pharmacy near you.

Ryan on May 12, 2014:

I had a prescription for Zoloft and ran out of refills. I wasn't able to pay my last bill with the prescribing doctor until it went to collections, and by the time I paid it, they said that I can never come to their service again.

If I call the pharmacy, would they be able to help me get more refills?

Gabi on May 08, 2014:


Just a quick question. I've been on pristiq 50 mg daily for depression and saw my doc 3 weeks ago for a checkup. My April prescription had no refills but my doctor said when I ran out to just have the pharmacy call him for a refill. Problem- he doesn't work Fridays and it's Thursday night. I just realized tonight that I have enough for tomorrow- then I'm out. I called the automated site at walgreens and asked them to call him for a refill. If they are unable to reach him, would walgreens be able to give me 2-3 pills until Monday when they can reach him? I'm in Texas and am unaware of the state laws concerning this but I fear going through withdrawals. Thanks for your response!

Golden on May 06, 2014:

Hello, I just moved to a new area here in CA from another area of the state. I have no more refills on my prescription and only 4 days left of my ongoing seizure medicine. What is the best course of action at this point?

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on May 01, 2014:

Ativan prescriptions expire exactly 6 months after they are written. Maybe the day it would have been okay to fill it...was the day it would expire.

Kcee on April 20, 2014:

That is a very confusing comment above that i wrote. I will make it shorter and more understanable, last month when i seen my doc he did a dosage change too 2mg as i was on 1mg . Well close to two weeks after refilling the new one i figured i would fill my other 1mg since i had 2refills reaming,Since you never know with anxity how it is day too day. I had the main tech said it will be ready on so and so and then another nice lady say the same ''On the phone'' But the day they both said it would go through ''Easter 4/20 It was big fat ''Exiperd'' By the med on the refill internet thing where you just check the box to have it filled . They all seemed like my insuance was good since they always checked before giving me a date anyways but the day of, i got expired. And i feel its this one women who is very rude too me every time i go there ! For why i don't know,So my husband picks them up for me every month. I got 2 Okay's directly on a Phone then the day i was too pick up i looked up on the refill program to see if it said ''Ready for pickup'' and it said Expired ?? So why would 2 say all is good and will be ready but litarlly the day ''OF'' it changed from processing on my refill sheet to Exipred..And i mean the day Of, the night before i was to pick them up. And it is atvian so can you please tell me a little understanding of what maybe the case maybe. Im just lost i cant find nothing online about my issue and what happened...

Kcee on April 20, 2014:

Hi i have a very important question and im very confused ,I had a dosage change last month too a 2mg and i asked a about a week in half after felling the new rx i tried refilling my older one that was 1mg that had 2remaing refill's. I talked to too pharmacy and the main tech who said it would be ready on so and so day and another who said the same but the day of it said Expired ??? I had this on auto refill but i did talk to a tech and all seemed just fine too do so it is anxity med so secd two which most are. But why would two day its all good and insuarnce will cover it so and so but the day off i go to check on my refill page to see if ready it said expired i feel its this one tech who i had issues with from the get who just don't like me why i don't know she just really rude and only nice to husband so he always goes for me.Can you please answer this for me???

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on January 19, 2014:


Physicians are not permitted to prescribe for patients who are not under their care. An annual visit seems to be the minimal acceptable standard.

Brian Williams on January 07, 2014:

Does State or Federal law require a doctor's visit before the prescription can be renewed? I am taking ED medicine and the office told me i must see the doctor ever year while on this medication. I don't remember that being a requirement. Look forward to your comments. BW in VA

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on December 10, 2013:


The pharmacy must fill them, unless they are being used in a manner that is not consistent with the prescription.

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on December 10, 2013:

Your MD should give you are referral to another MD.

todd on December 08, 2013:

I was n a serious car wreck. i broke my neck back and major surgery. I'm perscribed oxycodone but no one will fill them but people go in after me snd they get there's filled no problemis this discranation I'm 100% disable and this medcine is only thing that stops my pain what do i do

Bruiser on November 28, 2013:

My dr lost license and I've ran out of all the medication and I've been on some for 12 years and they are natrocotic can't get new dr for another month what do I do

Annoyed1 on October 14, 2013:

In the U.S.A doctors LOVE to force you back into the office for refills on a medication regardless if you need it for life or not. Why? They make a TON of money off you AND seperately off the perscription they write for you. Do yourself a favor and try to find a free clinic or go natural. That's the best way to go about it. I have MS and TMJ, I cannot afford to be paying the specialists what they seem to deem as fair ($400 per visit regardless of testing) so I found another way to do it. The free clinic manages my TMJ pain without consultation. And my MS specialist still harasses me to make appointments even though my natural regimine has been working 10x better than anything he ever gave me. In this country you have to take your healthcare into your own hands. You'll be feeling and living better in no time.

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on July 04, 2013:

Hi Sue. Controlled substances are restricted by both Federal law and state law. Whichever is stricter applies. For Federal is the exact language from the CSA (controlled substance act) for refilling schedule III or IV prescriptions (e.g. Vicodin, etc): "Such prescriptions may not be filled or refilled more than six months after the date thereof or be refilled more than five times after the date of the prescription unless renewed by the practitioner." So basically you get to refill it for up to 6 months, or 5 refills, whichever comes FIRST. Hope that helps.

Sue Simsova on July 01, 2013:

I had 6 refills for 6 months [narotics]. Is it okay to refill 6 refills before 6 months or just 5 refills before 6 months? Not sure? confuse?

Thank you, Sue

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on June 10, 2013:

Mr. pill,

Yes. You may need help.

mr. pill on June 10, 2013:

do you need help if you are 25 and have to take 15 different medications

Indiana on March 19, 2013:

Thank you for your reply!

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on March 19, 2013:


If I understand you correctly, it was YOU who called the pharmacy and asked them to discontinue it. As far as I know, there are no laws or regulations that dictate how this situation should be handled by a pharmacy. The pharmacy may simply be able to "reactivate" the Rx with no further explanation needed. Just call them. Nothing to be ashamed of. You are human. You changed your mind. Worse case scenario the pharmacy or you may need to call the MD and ask for a new RX to replace the refills that have been discontinued. Not really a big deal. Hope that helps.

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on March 06, 2013:


Hi. Okay. First - no - a pharmacy cannot authorize refills on this prescription without authorization from your physician. YES - you COULD go to urgent care, but this is not an idea approach. I would suggest you get a printout of your prescription history from your pharmacy. Highlight your zolpidem fills. Give your new MD a copy and ask if she would be willing to continue it as it has been working for you. If not, ask about another option. Several non-controlled options are available. In the mean time, continue to search for an MD that you feel comfortable with. Best wishes.

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on March 06, 2013:


The process usually only takes 24-48 hours to get the refill approved.

Sjsjjakspaw7 on March 06, 2013:

Hi. I have been on Zolpidem 10mg for many years due to night terrors/sleepwalking (keeps me in bed :-) ) and also as a preventative against Fibromyalsia and arthritis flare ups (good night's sleep = a much better day). I am currently between doctors right now as my original doc's replacement is an idiot who thinks and states all controlled medications are narcotics and she will not issue anything controlled. I have been with my pharmacy for a few years and they all know me and that this is one of my key medications (other is zertac - sp?) who can authorize a refill in New York state? Or CAN you see an Urgent Care doctor for sleep deprivation (how would you explain it?) and can they even refill Zolpidem for 30 days? With refills? Can a pharmacist authorize a one time fill or an emergency refill? Thank you.

Sara on February 20, 2013:

I'm on birth control and recently the nurse practitioner at my local clinic retired and I didn't know. She only gave me 2 refills. The lady at the office said to call the pharmacy and request to have a prescription refill faxed to the office. How long does it usually take to be approved?

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on January 11, 2013:

Hi Kim,

#1) Check to see WHO is supposed to be covering for your MD. They should have assigned some MD to cover his patients. #2) If there is NO ONE (which would be odd) then you must get to a walk-in clinick or ER or talk to another doctor that you may alread see or know. Show them your Rx bottle. Hope that helps!

Kim on January 09, 2013:

I'm bipolar and have PTSD and Major depression. I take all the neccesary prescriptions for these and I am also prescribed Temazepam for sleep. My Doctor was closed until further notice because legal problems. My sleeping medicine will run out in 4 days and I can't get my prescription rewritten as the doctor is closed. He will reopen again I have been told, but not in time for my prescription. What can I do? As I understand if I stop taking this medication cold turkey it can have horrible effects ie: seizures, insomnia....

Please help

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on November 19, 2012:

Hi John,

6 months is the law. Chapter 21 U.S. Controlled Substance Act, Section 829. However, for practical purposes most pharmacy software calculates that based on 180 days. That way folks who get their Rx's fill in February don't get cheated. :) Also, remember that this is FEDERAL law, and State law MAY be more restrictive. The stricter law always applies. Also, remember that it is 6 months from the date written - not the date first filled. Nevertheless - there shouldn't be a problem that really arises here. If the MD wants you to have it on the 181st day...they will authorize it...and you will get it. Hope that helps.

John on November 15, 2012:

Under federal law, do schedule IV refills expire at 6 months or 180 days? I have several refills remaining on a schedule IV prescription which states refill expiration as 180 days from fill date per Rx bottle label. My state law says "6 months"and info I've found on Fed law says "6 months". Of course, here on Earth, we have 365 days in a standard year and not all months contain the same number of days. Who wins the hypothetical debate between pharmacist and patient on the rare ocassion that a patient finds himself in this situation?

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on September 21, 2012:

Bob...well it depends on the type of medication, on insurance issues and even on the state laws. Try. But if not, you may be able to fill it while on your trip, as long as it is still within the U.S.

Bob on September 16, 2012:

I'm going on a 2 week camping trip/hike and will run out of my medicine a few days before I return, I have 1x refill on the bottle but I'm wondering if I could get it filled early?

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on September 04, 2012:


Some states allow for the filling of an "emergency" supply to accommadate such situations. However, it typically will only be enough until the doctor can reasonably be reached (2-3 days typically).

Maurilia on September 03, 2012:

If refills are gone and pharmacy sends a Dr. a notice to renew the order, can a pharmacist give more pills just to "lets say" get the patient threw the week, with out the Dr. consent?

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on August 10, 2012:


Each state sets its own laws respecting the filling of out-of-state prescriptions. Most allow it, but it is best to check with a pharmacy in AZ. Ideally finding an AZ doctor is best. I suspect the NY prescription will be accepted. Just give the pharmacy a day to verify it by calling the MD office (i.e. don't bring it in for the first time on a Saturday night...that looks suspicious). :) Best wishes.

Kevin B. on August 09, 2012:

I currently live in NY State and my doctor is in Manhattan. I will be moving to AZ in a few weeks. I plan on returning to NY every 6 months and will continue to see my doctor in NY. He currently prescribes Restoril for me every month. Usually mails the prescription to me in advance. If he mails a NY prescription to AZ will a pharmacy in AZ be able to fill the prescription?

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on July 28, 2012:


First, check your area - and especially any large cities nearby - for a FREE MEDICAL clinic. Contact local Boards of Health to ask about them. Next, ask your doctor's office if they are willing to bill you for the visit. Explain you are short on funds, but that you will pay off your bill. If this is okay with them, then just pay a little each month. Finally, be sure to investigate other insurance options. You may not be elligible for Medicaid, but many states have other programs that you may qualify for. Best wishes.

Nicole on July 26, 2012:

Hi. I am supposed to be taking levothyroxine for hypothyroidism. I have ran out of refills and cannot get anymore because the doctor says I need to come in to have my labs redone. However, I do not have medical insurance and cannot afford to come in for an office visit. I have applied for medicaid but was denied. Yet I cannot afford medical insurance either. What can I do? I need my thyroid medication!

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on June 13, 2012:


Call the pharmacy early Thursday. If it isn't ready, call your doctor immediately and let them know you will be out on Sunday. Then check in with the pharmacy Thursday night. If not filled by Friday MD again.

Ashley S on June 13, 2012:

Im taking birth control and my doctor only put 3 refills on my medicine, I did not realize it until Tuesday and called Target to see if they could call my doctor. I was told they would, so I'm waiting. I am out of medicine Sunday. Should I just keep waiting?

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on June 12, 2012:


Unfortunately you will probably just have to go without those doses. Thankfully you did not lose the whole prescription. The pharmacy might be able to get you a few paxil.

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on June 12, 2012:


It really depends on many things. Some insurances limit you to a 30 day supply. If insurance isn't the problem, then just ask the doctor to write the prescription for 3 months or 6 months (assuming it is not a narcotic or controlled substance). Then the pharmacy should fill it for you.

Rachel on June 11, 2012:

I took a camping trip this weekend and instead of bringing a bottle of my medicine I put enough to last me for the weekend plus a few extra in case we stayed an extra night but I lost the bag of meds in the creek. I had 7 soma and 10 roxycodone and 3 paxil. So my question is, will the pharmacy be able to replace it?

Kevin on June 11, 2012:

If I have, say 4 refills on prescription, can I have the pharmacy fill all the refills at once? My medication makes me embarrassed when I pick it up. I would like to minimize the number of trips to my out of town pharmacy of choice.

Walter on June 08, 2012:

I started a new prescription a few months ago. I had a consultation with a new doc who wrote me prescriptions. They had me trying different doses and I want to go back to a lower dose. I mailed a letter to the office earlier this week asking for new scripts. I don't have insurance and cant afford a $250 office visit just to say the meds are fine and I need more. Is it fine that I mailed in my request?

Laura on June 07, 2012:

Pharmacy keeps track of the refills. They contacted the MD and they wish to see me before the year is up. (after 12 months) The problem is I'm on medicare and medicare will not pay for another pap smear or mammogram before the year is up. If I went to the MD, the only thing they would do is take my temperature and blood pressure. Both are fine. Actually blood pressure runs low. It would seem as though it is a useless MD visit when more testing, including blood tests are not covered until the year is up.

Renee on June 07, 2012:

Who keeps track of your refills? if you don't have any on the lable and it says to contact perscriber for more?

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on June 06, 2012:


Well, I cannot speak for sure for the doctor. But honestly, most physicians will insist on seeing patients once a year at least. Some more often.

Laura on June 01, 2012:

I'm on Bio-identical hormones and on medicare. I had my annual pap smear and mammogram 10 months ago. I need a refill on my testosterone. My doctor insists on seeing me before the year is up and before he will refill the prescription. Medicare will not pay for another pap smear or mammogram before the year is up. All testing last exam was negative. Why is he insisting on seeing me?

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on May 21, 2012:


Your insurance may allow an early refill for several reasons. Vacation supply is one. I would try to refill it before it cancels and see what happens. A doctor could probably not get you an early refill just because the policy is begin cancelled. The Enbrel and Cymbalta are the more expensive ones. The companies who make them may have a "patient assistance" program to help you too. Check that out. Best wishes.

Missie on May 21, 2012:


I am in a transition stage right now from leaving one job to go to another. At this moment I am working but my employment ends on May 31. I will have insurance up to that point but on June 1 I will be out of coverage for 30 days until the new employement insurance kicks in. My problem here is that I am on medication for Spondyloarthritis (embrel, hydrocodone and cymbalta). I am going to run out of insurance to pay for these meds and cannot afford to pay out of pocket. Is there any way the doctor would give me an early fill so that I don't miss out on my medication?

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on May 14, 2012:


Yes, without insurance you will be fully responsible for the cost. The pharmacy can TRY to bill the insurance, but if it is truly terminated, the claim will immediately reject and they will tell you so.

Ed on May 14, 2012:

Hello Pharmacist!

I still have 2 refills for my medication, but my insurance coverage just ended last month. Now, if I get my next refill, do I need to pay the medication full in my own expense? Thanks!

Dayanadaa on May 11, 2012:

very good

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on April 28, 2012:


Yes, but only if you get such approval from the MD prescribing it. With narcotics, it is critical you stay within the dosing guidelines that are prescribed.

Becky on April 27, 2012:

I am taking Lortab 2.5/500 for pain. If just one won't work, can I take 2 at one time? Thanks.

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on April 26, 2012:

Hi Brandon,

The ER doc will not "refill" the prescription. The pharmacy would direct you to your primary care doctor. But you don't have one. Until you can get one, you are stuck using the ER or maybe a walk-in clinic. You need to get some sort of insurance, even the cheapest you can afford. In our health care system it is very important - it gets you in to care - even if you end up having to pay the full price. Check to see if you are eligible for any state insurance programs.

Brandon on April 26, 2012:

Hello I have a question. I don't not have a primary doctor of any kind and when I need medical help I always have to go to the ER. My question is this, I've recently gone to the ER for a very bad tooth ache. my tooth is pretty much broken and needs to be pulled. however I am unable to go to a dentist right now. I'm in the middle of finding a new job as well as moving into a new home and my resourses are stretched. Now I was able to get antibiotics and pain meds from the ER visit. but I'm out of pain meds and have been for sometime now. is it possible for me to call the pharmacy and inquire as to whether or not I could possibly get a refill of the 20 pain meds I received? even though I have no doctor (just ER visit) and the bottle says no refills? I don't know what else to do.

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on April 24, 2012:


Sounds like you have done just about everything you can. I would hope your OBGYN doctor would not make you wait for an appointment if you might get dehydrated again. If so, time to look for a new OBGYN. Use the ER again if you need to. Best wishes.

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on April 24, 2012:

Hi Linda,

Such laws are typically handled by Board of Medicine in a state. Frequent appointments like this can be challenging. Until you can find an alternative, I suggest being pro-active and making the appointments well in advance so that you can plan your schedule better.

jen on April 24, 2012:

I am pregnant n I've had to go to the er a few times now bc I would get dehydrated and couldn't eat or drink anything and was vomiting a lot. Well I was prescribeed Zofran and it has helped a lot. Well my doctor won't prescribe me a refill till he sees me in a week and I am told that emergency rooms do not give refills and that u have to go in for another visit. But I feel bad and don't want to go in when all I need is a refill. I've left a message for the prescribing doctor to call me and I also called the pharmacy and they faxed the there anything else I can do to speed up the process?

LINDA ALLEN on April 24, 2012:

How do you find out what individual state laws are regarding renewal of perscriptions? My schedule makes it very hard to see my doctor every three months as I can not take off from work. I have no problem with seeing the doctor for updates in my condition, but if the doctor has been seeing me for years, I would hoe this could be done via phone on occasion. Inevidently I will be going to see my doctor for something or other several times a year. If however my perscription needs renewals and my last visit has been say 3 months and 3 days and they require an appointment to see me, I have to drop everything, take a sick day from work just to get my script renewed. Thank you for your help. Your site is very useful. Linda

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on April 19, 2012:


I am personally not aware of such a law. Massachusetts requires a 6 month visit. Of course, a prescriber can request to see you as often as he/she feels necessary to manage your condition. For more information on opioid prescribing in New York, contact:

•New York State Department of Health

Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement

433 River Street, Suite 303

Troy, NY 12180-2299

Telephone: (866) 811-7957


francis on April 18, 2012:

I live in new york and due to an almost fatal hit and run incident which left me with about a hundred shattered bones etc. I have harsh chronic pain which my doctor has routinely prescribed however; now he says I need to see him every three months to get my refills. I live on my disability so I can't afford to see him so often...he used to tell me I needed to see him once a year. So what is the New York state law--he told me it's every three months.

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on April 14, 2012:


Whether they "can" renew without a face to face may be a state law issue, if we are talking about narcotics/controlled substances. Ask the state board of pharmacy that question. She may be right.

GuestA on April 13, 2012:

So conversely, a doctor can not renew a prescription without a face to face visit? My question is whether this doctor is correct in saying she doesn't have a choice.

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on April 13, 2012:


The doctor can require you to make an appointment before he/she prescribes any medication. However, if the doctor is making unreasonable requests for visits, you have the right to take your "business" elsewhere and see another doctor. That is your choice. Best wishes.

GuestA on April 13, 2012:

Can an Arizona Doctor require me by law to come in for an appt. before renewing my prescription?

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on April 01, 2012:


You're welcome. Sounds like you need a consultant with retail pharmacy experience. Shoot me an email with some more background and maybe we can chat. Best wishes!


eRxAnalyst on March 31, 2012:

Hi Pharmacist,

Thanks so much for the quick response, it really helped!!

I have a couple of follow up questions if you can please answer:

1. What happens if a doctor renews a prescription that has a few refills still left and is not expired yet? perhaps because the patient has asked for more refills bcos he/she is going on vacation/travel, or because the doctor decides on the next visit that the patient would need more refills? In this case, would both the doctor and the pharmacy keep the original prescription order, and only update the number of refills? or still it would result in a new prescription order both on the Doctor's side and in the Pharmacy's system?

2. A patient got a prescription from Doctor A for 30 days plus 4 refills in January. The patient visits the clinic in March but since Doctor A is away, Doctor B sees the patient, and decides to renew this prescription with 4 more refills. Since now the prescription is by Doctor B, it will be a new prescription, isn't it? If this creates a new prescription now for the same medication, what happens to the original prescription? is it considered as discontinued? Would Pharmacy come to know that the original prescription is discontinued? and that Doctor B has renewed it with new refill count? I am stuck in this workflow when Doctor B would renew Doctor A's prescription. Hope you could clarify what typically happens in such scenarios.

Thank you.

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on March 31, 2012:


1) Yes, typically. Unless the refill is denied due to the fact that the patient needs to make an appointment, or if the drug is not intended to be refilled.

2) When a renewal is requested, a whole new prescription "order" is generated, creating a new prescription number and new series of refills (if any). So, it is a "new" prescription even though it is for the "same" medication.

Hope that helps.

eRxAnalyst on March 31, 2012:

Hi Pharmacist,

Your articles on refills are very useful for thoselike me who work on EMR products with eprescribing funtion but who don't know much about what happens between patients, pharmacy and doctors when it comes to renewal requests. Can you please write explaining about prescription Renewal process? Some questions I have are:

1. Does Renewal request always result in a new prescription to be issued by the doctor for the same medication?

2. When Pharmacy sends a renewal request to the doctor for a patient's prescription that ran out of refills, and doctor approves the request for renewal, does the pharmacy just extend the number of refills keeping the original prescription? or create a new prescription for the renewal on the Pharmacy's end?

Would appreciate if you can elaborate on this process explaining what happens to the original prescription that ran of out refills and is being renewed - at the pharmacy's end and at the prescriber's end.

Thank you!

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on March 30, 2012:


What an encouragement! Thank you sincerely. Coming from a teacher, it is especially helpful. Best wishes!


Theresa Ast from Atlanta, Georgia on March 29, 2012:

Hi pharmacist - I discovered you through a comment you left for another Hubber. Glad I did. Your personal profile was very interesting and you write very well, thoughtfully, articulately, and with clarity and I really appreciate that.

Good Hub with great information. I look forward to reading more of your work. And I appreciate your willingness to teach and help others. A social conscience in this day and age is an admirable thing. Voted all kinds of UP and SHARING

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on March 28, 2012:

Movie Guy,

First, your current MD should be able to arrange for you to continue with your treatment either by:

1) Providing you with documentation so you can get your Rx written by an ER doctor or Walk-in clinic doctor until you can see a "regular" MD


2) Arranging to make sure you can get into see another doctor soon enough to meet your needs


3) Providing you with another prescription which will be sufficiently effective to help until you see another doctor

If your MD is unwilling to do any of these things, then you must attempt to see a new doctor as soon as possible, and use the ER or walk-in clinics as needed.

Also, I would file (politely) an official complaint against your doctor if he has truly resisted providing you with any of these basic options.

I am sorry for all the trouble and pain this situation has caused you. Best wishes.

Movie Guy on March 27, 2012:

This seems to be a good place to ask this question.

I go to see my doc once a month for a face to face visit. I have never had a problem until this doctor was recently raided. I have all of my paperwork, mri, etc. but now the doc says he is no longer allowed to perscribe my medication that I've been taking (and I must stress taking) not abusing for the past few years. Since this has happened I've made at least thirty phone calls without any progress trying to get back on track. This has altered my entire lifestyle, work and home. I am lost. Where am I supposed to go? What options do I have? What am I supposed to do? I called all of the local pain clinics and the wait is at least three months so I set up an appt but until then what can I do and where can I go? It's a shame because I have a documented injury, pay my taxes, work hard, and have now been reduced to asking for help in an online chat room. It's sad because the people around me see the affects. Without my medication it's hard.

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on March 17, 2012:


See if your doctor will order you more refills to hold you over until your insurance kicks back in. Also, look into samples from your doctor or cheaper alternatives if it gets too $$$.

Jenny on March 16, 2012:

My insurance ran out a few months ago and I only have one refill left for my arthritis . How can I extend my prescription since I no longer have insurance?

Cora on February 10, 2012:

I have chronic pain and flexeril and t3's are working for me. My doc said I can get refills my pharmacist has to fax herband she will ok them for me when I have my last one's

Related Articles