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Renewals Of Prescription Drugs 101


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Drugs you continue to take will likely have to be renewed. The label from the pharmacy will indicate how many times you can renew it as well as how many renewals you have left.

To get a renewal, call or e-mail your pharmacy and ask for a renewal. If a prescription is required from the doctor for the renewal, either ask the pharmacist to contact the doctor, or let the pharmacist know you will contact the doctor and have the prescription sent directly to the pharmacy.

Keep track on your calendar or in your computer when to refill a prescription. Include sufficient lead time to assure that you don't run out. If the renewal will require obtaining a new prescription, leave extra lead time. If you need a refill in a hurry, even if you can get a refill in time, there can be unnecessary stress and extra expense involved. For more information about when to order a refill, click here.

If you need medications in an emergency, your pharmacy can usually give you a one or two day supply while you contact your doctor for a new prescription.

If you have a tendency to lose your drugs, or to not get refills until the prescription runs out, ask your doctor to write a letter to your pharmacy authorizing emergency supplies of all your medications.

For drugs you take on an ongoing basis:

  • Check every six months to see if you can save money buying it in a different manner or place than previously. For instance by buying in bulk.
  • Talk with your pharmacist about coordinating the renewal dates for all your drugs so you don't have to go to the pharmacy more often than necessary. The pharmacist should be able to contact your doctors' office(s) and do this for you.


  • When you get a refill, check immediately to make sure the drug looks exactly the same as the original prescription. If the refill looks different, ask the pharmacist for an explanation. If the drug has been switched, see: Drug Switches By An Insurance Carrier.
  • If you are taking a drug long term, ask your doctor whether you should be taking supplements because of the drug. Long term use of some drugs can interfere with your body's ability to absorb and metabolize nutrients.

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