If you are getting a prescription, particularly for antibiotics, be sure to double-check the number of pills you receive against the number of pills your provider ordered.
My physician ordered antibiotics for me, for a longer course than average due to my immune deficiency. But, the pharmacy only gave me the typical number of pills. Those were the rules set by my insurance company on the formulary.
It’s important to limit antibiotics to reduce the risk of antibiotic resistance; we know that better than most. But, I didn’t know that in order to get the number of pills ordered, my physician has to get a special authorization, explaining my diagnosis.
What’s worse is that the prescriber is not always notified that fewer pills were given to the patient (mine wasn’t). The provider writes a prescription for a certain number of pills, but unless the patient reaches out to let the prescriber know he or she got fewer pills, the prescriber may never know. Just another reason to be informed! Always ask for:
- The name of any prescription drug, both generic and brand (your provider may write the brand name, but the pharmacy plan may require that a generic be substituted)
- The number of pills written on the prescription
- The number of days the prescription is intended to cover. Some plans limit certain drugs to 30 days, others require 90 days via mail order. Even if the prescriber sends in a prescription for 60 days, the plan may limit the pharmacy to giving you only 30 days of pills (again, without notifying the prescriber).
- The number of refills. If they’re on the prescription, how many does your provider want you to have?
Don’t feel uncomfortable asking for this information. It’s part of the partnership you’re in with your provider(s). Communication needs to be two-way, and we always need to double-check that what we receive from the pharmacy is what our provider wanted us to have.