By Mirjeta Bytyqi, PharmD –
Director of Clinical Pharmacy and Drug Management Services
For some time, a number of medications prescribed by doctors and other caregivers have been in short supply or unavailable at all. Pediatric medications and drugs for ADHD have been particularly affected, especially in the last six months.
There are many reasons for the medication shortages. Some producers of generic drugs are no longer manufacturing them. Shortages of the raw materials to manufacture different drugs have also played a role. For certain medications, higher demand due to an increase in prescriptions has also led to shortages.
If a drug you have been prescribed isn’t available at nearby pharmacies, ask your doctor or pharmacist if a similar medication is available. For some prescriptions, pharmacists can get approval to compound a medication if it isn’t available. If a generic medication you take is not available at your pharmacy, try calling your insurance company. In some cases, the insurance company is willing to contact the pharmacy and lower the price of the brand name version. It’s also possible to be reimbursed later for the difference between what you paid for the brand name drug and what the generic would cost you.
Here are some other tips that can help:
- Don’t wait until your prescription has almost run out before trying to get a refill. Due to increased shortages, it’s important to factor in some time to get a refill on any medication you use.
- Check the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists website to make sure your medication has a known shortage and see whether there is a timeline on when it might be available again. You can also check to see what similar medications might be available.
- If you believe your medication (whether a refill or a new prescription) might not be available at your regular pharmacy, call around to different pharmacies in your area to see if it in stock. You can then direct your doctor’s office to send the prescription to the pharmacy that has it available.
- If you can’t find the generic version of your medication and are unable to get the price on the brand-name drug lowered, check for coupons. Many online pharmacies allow you to input the name of the medication and check the price you would pay using their coupon at different pharmacies.
- For brand-name drugs, check the manufacturer’s websites. They often have co-pay assistance programs that can dramatically lower the cost of your prescription if you qualify (you will still have to find the medication though).
Having a pharmacist review all your medications may also be beneficial if you are having trouble finding your medications. Although you will still have to deal with any shortages, your pharmacist will be able to tell you if there is an alternative or less expensive version of the medicine you need. (Your pharmacist will inform you if you need to contact your doctor’s office for a new prescription.)
Always let your pharmacist know of any over-the-counter supplements or vitamins that you take. In addition, if you are taking a new or alternate medication, make sure you understand the dosage instructions and any potential drug interactions, as these may be different from the medications you have taken previously.
At Reliant, our team approach to care is about helping you reach your health goals. Having a pharmacist as a regular member of your care team is one of the best ways to give you the high quality, thorough care you deserve. Learn more