20 Mar 2020
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Coronavirus Outbreak: How Much Extra Medicine Should You Have On Hand?

As COVID-19 continues it’s grip throughout the United States and sends ripples in the global economy, public health experts are advising older adults and those with chronic health conditions to stock up on their prescription drugs in case the pandemic keeps people home for a prolonged time. Pharmacies and prescription plans typically have rules on when patents can refill their medications but amid the coronavirus outbreak, some of these rules are starting to relax.

Ilisa Bernstein, Senior Vice President of Pharmacy Practice and Government Affairs at the American Pharmacists Association stated: “We’re getting the message out to the insurance companies and pharmacy benefit managers that they need to look at their procedures and help these patients who want to make sure that they have an adequate supply.” Several insurance companies have gone on board and pledged to waive prescription refill limits on “maintenance medications.” As the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urges social distancing and avoiding crowds of ten or more, pharmacies like CVS says it will waive charges associated with home delivery of prescription medications.

So, exactly how much extra medicine should you have on hand? Regardless of a potential coronavirus outbreak or any other emergency, it’s always a good idea to keep backup supplies of lifesaving medication on hand. Standard emergency preparedness guidelines call for three days’ worth of supplies, including food, water, and prescription medicine. As the pandemic continues to sweep the nation, it’s recommended that people should have a two-week supply, and if you can, a good month or more of medications to keep you out of the doctor’s office. 

Having a healthy supply of medications in reserve is important. If you want a reserve of prescription medicine at home, start by talking to your doctor and see if it’s possible to pump your prescription from a 30-day supply to a 90-day supply. Then, call your pharmacy to make sure it can fill it. If you or a loved one can’t pick it up, ask the pharmacy about home-delivery options. As well, don’t forget to stock up on an extra bottle or two of over-the-counter medicines like fever-reducing drugs like Tylenol and cough suppressants like Robitussin that can treat the symptoms of the illness (fever, cough, and shortness of breath). As the CDC recommends that high-risk individuals should also stock up on household supplies such as tissues and groceries, the most important thing by far, is medication.