A Guide To How Long Does A Pharmacy Hold A Prescription

Last Updated on June 22, 2024 by ClinicNearMe

Your doctor will likely tell you how long you should take a medication when you’ve prescribed it for the first time. Unfortunately, you aren’t always informed about how to continue taking your medicine after the supply runs out. Getting a repeat prescription is necessary for that purpose. It is not possible to give a simple answer to the question, “How long does a pharmacy hold a prescription.”

The answer depends on various factors, including the type of medication involved, the reason for the prescription, whether it is a scheduled drug and state law. You have to decide if you’re talking about a filled or a written prescription.

For your convenience, this guide provides information about; how long a pharmacy holds a prescription.

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A Prescription Is Valid For How Long After It Is Written?

Both state and Federal laws govern the practice of how long pharmacies hold prescriptions. All forms must follow Federal law, but most have enacted more restrictive laws.

Not Controlled Drugs

Many non-controlled drugs don’t require a prescription and can be bought over the counter. These include pain medications, cold and allergy medications, antibiotics, blood pressure medicines, heart medicines, and vitamins. 

Even though federal law doesn’t specify a time limit for filling prescriptions for non-controlled substances, most states have laws limiting the time to one year after the date the prescription is written.  So, if you have a more than a year old prescription, you may not be able to have it filled. However, some states don’t have this time limit, so it’s always best to check with your local pharmacy to see the rules.

When filling a prescription, pharmacists must use discretion regardless of the time limit. A pharmacist may not fill an antibiotic prescription written five months ago. What’s the reason? Initially, it may have been written to cover a condition that no longer exists. 

Controlled Drugs

If prescribed a controlled substance, it’s essential to be mindful of how you use it. These drugs can lead to physical or psychological dependence, so following your doctor’s directions is crucial. The Federal Government determines controlled substances. Controlled substances are categorized by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Narcotics and amphetamines, for example, are controlled drugs because of their accepted medical uses.

Be sure to fill your prescription as soon as possible, and never keep leftover controlled substances around. If you have unused medication, dispose of it correctly according to your state’s regulations. Never share your controlled substances with others, even if they have a similar condition. These drugs are closely regulated for a reason, and sharing them can lead to severe consequences.

What Is The Validity Of A Prescription Once It Has Been Filled?

Federal and state laws also set prescription limits on how long a pharmacy holds a prescription. Prescriptions remain valid as long as refills are made and if they are controlled substances.

Non-controlled Drugs Validity

Most states allow you to fill a prescription for a non-controlled drug for one year after it is filled. You have one year to use refills that your doctor includes on your prescription. You will need to contact the doctor to get another prescription afterwards. 

Controlled Drugs Validity

A controlled substance prescription’s validity depends on its schedule after it is filled. Refills are not available for Schedule II drugs. For each refill, your doctor must write a new prescription. It is valid for six months after filling a schedule III or IV prescription. Refills from your doctor must be used within six months, and there is a five-refill limit in that period.

How Do You Handle Expired Prescriptions?

During an appointment, the doctor may give you a limited refill if your prescription is stable. In certain situations, pharmacists may extend limited fills. It can help if you have a personal relationship with one pharmacy since the staff knows your history.

Keep an eye on your refills each time you fill a prescription. Depending on your insurance plan, schedule your annual exam as soon as possible. Prevent a gap between your exam and the expiration of your refills by contacting your doctor’s office as quickly as possible.

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