The experience of buying prescription drugs in the United States and ways to save money

The experience of buying prescription drugs in the United States and ways to save money

Prescription drugs are prescription drugs, labeled Rx on the bottle and the drug manufacturer’s website. As the name implies, it requires a doctor’s prescription to buy it, unlike OTC drugs that can be purchased freely in the store.

Where can I buy prescription drugs?

In the United States, there are separate branches of medicine. Doctors only see doctors and write prescriptions, and do not sell medicines. There is no pharmacy in the clinic. Even in hospitals, only in-patient drugs are provided, and out-patient drugs are not provided.

The doctor prescribes the prescription, and the patient must go to the pharmacy outside to buy the medicine by himself. Look at Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid on the corner, these are the pharmacies. Larger supermarkets such as Walmart also have pharmacy divisions, and Target’s pharmacy was sold to CVS two years ago for $1.9 billion.

Walgreens and Rite Aid, both common pharmacies, were at one point planning to merge (Pic: Wikimedia)

How to buy prescription drugs?

It’s very simple. After seeing the doctor, the doctor will give you a prescription, you can take it to the pharmacy you like, hand it to the pharmacist, and wait for the payment to get the medicine. To save patients time, the doctor will ask you which pharmacy you are used to going to. If you already know which pharmacy you often go to, report the name of the pharmacy to the doctor, and he will pass the prescription directly, you don’t even need to see the prescription paper; go directly to the pharmacy after you are finished, if the pharmacy has a drive-through, you don’t need to get out of the car, report your name and birthday to get medicine at the window.

According to my impression of the efficiency of the nurses, the medicine is usually available within half an hour after the prescription is issued. Sometimes it may be that the nurse is busy and fails to pass on the prescription, so it takes a few more phone calls to urge.

Who has prescribing authority:

  • Doctor (MD, DO, DPM)
  • Physician Assistant (PA)
  • Certified Nurse Practitioner
  • veterinary
  • dentist
  • Optometrists (glasses require a prescription, and optometrists can also prescribe medicines for eye diseases)
  • In most states, clinical pharmacists have contractual prescribing rights

When I first came to the U.S., I didn’t know my life well, so I obediently walked into the pharmacy with the prescription and walked around for 20 minutes waiting to get the medicine. Now that I understand, I just ask the doctor to pass the prescription over, I will go around to get it when I have time, and I will ask my husband to get it when I have time, hehe.

Don’t rush to leave after taking the medicine, ask how to take it and how much to take, the pharmacist is obliged to answer all your questions.

Medicine CVS bottle (Pic: Pixabay) Drugs

Medicine bottle label

American prescription drugs are not prescribed box by box but packed in a small orange bottle according to the amount prescribed by the doctor. Take the medicine for as many days as you want, and the liquid medicine will come with a syringe (without a needle) or a small measuring cup. This avoids drug abuse, which is strictly regulated in the United States. The name and dosage of the drug are printed on a label that is affixed to the bottle. The label indicates the prescription number (in the red box in the figure below), the patient’s name, the name of the drug, the dosage, the dosage, the expiration date, whether the drug can be refilled, the name of the prescribing doctor, etc.

my prescription drug label

Refill / Refill

In the United States, if the medicine is taken for a long time, the doctor usually only prescribes the medicine for one month, and it is necessary to refill it after taking it. When you get the medicine bottle, check if the word xx refill till xx/xx (a certain date) is written on the medicine bottle, which means that the medicine has been refilled xx times until the date of the prescription, as shown in the picture above.

Some medicine bottles say no refill, which means you can’t take the bottle again after you’ve eaten it unless the doctor issues another prescription. What if I have to continue taking the no refill medicine? Don’t worry, you tell the pharmacy that you want to refill, and the pharmacist will call your doctor. If the doctor approves the pharmacist to rewrite the prescription, you can go directly to the pharmacy to get the medicine without seeing the doctor again. Sometimes the doctor wants to re-examine you before deciding whether to refill the medicine, so sorry, you have to go to the doctor again.

Refill is very simple, several methods:

  1. Call the pharmacy, say you need to refill and tell them the Rx number (it’s on the bottle, see picture above). You can pick it up when the pharmacy replies when you are ready.
  2. The first time you get medicine, go to the pharmacy’s official website to register an account, your prescription information will be stored in the account, and you can apply for a refill next time you log in.
  3. I am using Walgreens now, scan the barcode of the medicine bottle with the mobile app, the system will send your information to the pharmacy, and go to get it when it is ready.
  4. If the bottle is lost, it doesn’t matter if you don’t remember the Rx number, tell the pharmacy your name and birthday, and they will be able to find out what medicine you are taking.

Transfer Prescription

Not even a national chain of pharmacies can cover every village. If you move, there is no pharmacy near your new home, and you can’t go back to the old pharmacy to get medicine, then you can apply to transfer the prescription to the pharmacy in your new home.

Not only is the referral free, but it may also give you money! Various pharmacies and supermarket pharmacies compete with each other to solicit customers, and they will give some incentives to patients who transfer prescriptions, such as gift cards and credits of around $20. This kind of promotion is not perennial, you can pay attention to the advertisement of the pharmacy. If there is a promotion, take the opportunity to turn the prescription around and you can take a handful of wool. As I write this, RiteAid has an event: “Get $25 in wellness+ BonusCash rewards per prescription. You could earn up to $100 in savings at Rite Aid.”

When transferring prescriptions to a new pharmacy, you can choose to transfer all your prescription drugs (convenient for those who have moved) or transfer some prescription drugs (for example, certain prescription drugs are cheaper in the new pharmacy).

By aamritri

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