Your health care provider may give you a prescription in different ways, including:
You also need to find out whether your health plan will pay for the medicine your health care provider prescribed. Certain types or brands of medication may not be covered.
Once you receive a prescription from your health care provider, you may buy the medication from various sources.
The most common place for filling a prescription is at a local pharmacy. Some pharmacies are located inside of a grocery or large "chain" store.
Qudstions to consider when choosing a pharmacy include:
It is best to fill all presciptions with the same pharmacy, so they have a record of what drugs you are taking or have taken in the past. This allows your pharmacist to easily check for drug interactions that could be harmful or decrease the effectiveness of your medications.
Your health plan may require you to use certain pharmacies. This means they may not pay for your prescription if you do not use one of these pharmacies.
To help the pharmacist fill the prescription:
Some people and insurance companies choose to use mail-order pharmacies. Normally, a prescription is sent to the mail-order pharmacy or phoned in by the health care provider. It may take a week or more for the prescription to reach your home. Therefore, mail order is best used for long-term medications that treat chronic problems such as high blood pressure and diabetes.
Your prescriptions may be less expensive when you order them 3 months at a time through a mail-order pharmacy. Buy short-term medications, such as antibiotics and medications that need to be stored at certain temperatures at a local pharmacy.
INTERNET (ONLINE) PHARMACIES
Internet pharmacies are another option for long-term medications or general pharmacy supplies. The website should clearly explain the steps for filling or transferring a prescription. Make sure that the website has clearly-stated privacy policies and other procedures. AVOID any website that claims a doctor can prescribe the medication without seeing you.
Prescriptions - how to fill; Medications - how to get prescription filled; Drugs - how to get prescription filled; Pharmacy - mail order; Pharmacy - internet; Types of pharmacies
U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Buying prescription medicine online: A consumer safety guide. Updated March 30, 2010. Accessed January 30, 2011.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Stop-Learn-Go Tips for talking with your pharmacist to learn how to use medicines safely. Updated October 14, 2009. Accessed January 30, 2011.
Rabbani A, Alexander GC. Cost savings associated with filling a 3-month supply of prescription medicines. Appl Health Econ Health Policy. 2009;7(4):255-264.
Updated by: Linda Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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