Everything You Need to Know About Prescription Refill Rules

ordering prescriptions online

Prescription drugs are controlled substances, which means they fall under special rules written by the U.S. Department of Justice.

One of the ways the government controls prescriptions is through prescription refill rules. These rules exist to ensure that you don’t take one prescription and refill it again and again without your doctor’s approval.

Are you about to start a new prescription or looking for ways to better manage your care? Here are a few of the prescription refill rules that you should know.

You Can’t Refill Schedule II Prescriptions

All controlled substances available through prescription need to include a long list of information about you, the prescriber, and the drug itself. One of the most important pieces of information is the date the prescription was issued.

The date of issue signals when the prescription expires except in the case of Schedule II prescription drugs. Any Schedule II substance has no expiration date.

What is a Schedule II drug? These are usually narcotics, which includes:

  • hydromorphone
  • methadone
  • oxycodone
  • meperidine
  • morphine
  • codeine
  • hydrocodone 

Basically, you can only receive the drug for the quantity prescribed. You must also send it to the pharmacy within seven days, or the pharmacy must notify the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

These are just the federal laws. Each state may also have its own laws or regulations for additional requirements.

You Can’t Refill Schedule III and IV Prescriptions After 6 Months

Other drugs that fall into Schedule III and IV are prescriptions that feature less stringent rules. However, there are still limitations.

These are drugs you cannot refill after your fifth refill or when six months pass after the prescription is issued.

Can You Refill Prescriptions Early?

The laws above stop people from endlessly refilling prescriptions without first seeing their doctor. It both safeguards people from misuse of prescriptions, but it also protects patients who might find their health needs change over time. For example, it forces you back to the doctor, who might find that a different dosage better suits you.

If you have a prescription suitable for a refill, then you can absolutely refill them early. You don’t need to wait until you run out to buy again. In fact, you should absolutely do so because it prevents you from missing a dosage.

The Same Rules Apply with Online Pharmacies

There are a lot of benefits to buying online because it’s easier to price compare between pharmacies and sometimes it’s even faster. However, all of the above rules still apply. What’s more, you need to take extra precautions to ensure you’re buying from a safe and reputable pharmacy.

It’s also a good idea to only fill prescriptions that you received from your normal doctor. Remember that an “online doctor” doesn’t have the legal authority to write you a prescription, even for a simple course of antibiotics.

Stay Safe and Healthy by Following Prescription Refill Rules

Prescription refill rules exist to keep you safe and prevent medications from falling into the wrong hands. It sounds strange, but prescription medications are controlled substances. It’s important that only licensed doctors prescribe them.

Did we answer your questions about refilling your prescription? Find more great content in our Health archive.