Can You Alter a Prescription? When and How To Change a Prescription

Posted September 16, 2020 by Michael Chamberlain - See Editorial Guidelines

Sometimes a prescription is incorrect, or you may want different medications or additional doses, and it’s tempting to alter a prescription. Before you do, you should read this guide to understand the implications.

But first, we’ll directly address the question can you alter a prescription with a quick summary answer before we move on to why and what to do.

Can You Alter A Prescription? It is illegal and a crime to alter a prescription under Sec. 481.129 (a-1). It carries different charges depending on the class of drugs you’ve altered. Altering prescriptions is harmful to you and can even blacklist you from doctors and pharmacies.

Why You Can’t Alter a Prescription

Can You Alter a Prescription

As mentioned in the quick answer above, you cannot alter a prescription, and it is illegal to do so.

When you visit your doctor, they will prescribe medications based on your specific needs. Along with the type of medication, they will include the exact dose that is needed.

Your doctor will likely ask you several questions in line with your medical condition in order to gather further knowledge before prescribing meds to you.

These common questions include the potential for allergies for certain medications or if you’re going through any other medical treatment for another medical condition. These questions are asked to ensure the medications prescribed for you do not cause harmful interactions.

Someone may alter a prescription if they believe they need a different medication, dose, or if they have the intention of abusing medications. You can put yourself at a severe risk of having an allergic reaction or serious side effects by altering a prescription.

How Can a Pharmacist Find Out if a Prescription is Altered?

Of course, if the prescription is a paper prescription and you manage to alter it using the exact style and lettering using the same color of pen, etc., you may get away with it. But just be aware this is highly illegal and is still not guaranteed to work.

Some medications are prescribed in certain quantities to keep it under an accepted safety level. This is most commonly found among controlled substances, hence the name “controlled.”

So, if you alter a prescription for a controlled substance, it’s likely you’ll go over the prescription threshold, and it will instantly be flagged. It’s just not worth the risk.

Pharmacies and Doctors are in Contact with Each Other

Moreover, most pharmacies and doctors are in daily contact with each other. Doctors can check if you’ve filled your prescription, and the pharmacist can always call the doctor and verify the doses and certain medications if they’re deemed suspicious.

Although the pharmacists don’t do this with all medications, they will do this with controlled substances, to avoid abuse. There are plenty of recorded incidents where people have been caught in altering prescriptions, especially for controlled substances.

Apart from this, there are also certain medications that come in “pack sizes,” such as pills. Some pills aren’t packaged in 10’s but rather in higher package quantities.

So, altering the quantity of medication again means the pharmacists can easily identify you’ve altered it. Pharmacies also hold electronic information regarding your historical medical records. 

Sometimes filling a prescription can take time, so this allows more time for them to discover any discrepancy.

If they do discover that you’ve made an alteration that can interact with other medications you’re taking or adversely affect other medical conditions you’re going through, they may seek verification with the doctor. Again, this is why the doctor knows what they’re prescribing, and that’s why you shouldn’t be altering prescriptions under any circumstances.

What to Do if You Want to Alter a Prescription

Can You Alter a Prescription

If you feel the prescription does not fully suit your needs, then be open about it and speak to your doctor.

Let them know any concerns you have, and ask about the other possible routes you can take. Even let them know if there are any patients you know that have tried different routes.

The doctor will guide you on why you should or shouldn’t be taking certain medications and the doses involved. This will also be a good opportunity for the doctor to know how you feel about the medication and how you’re body is responding to it.

If your concerns are valid, then your doctor will consider switching to better effective medications or doses, as long as it’s right for you and can be done in a safe manner. 

If the Pharmacist Finds Out You Have Altered the Prescription

In the event of a fraudulent prescription being submitted, the pharmacist will notify relevant authorities right away, usually after clarification with the doctor.

Once it’s established that the prescription has been altered and no mistake has occurred, the doctor and the pharmacist are duty-bound to report the incident to the DEA.

The doctor may also blacklist you from obtaining further prescriptions. The doctor can also immediately cut you off from obtaining any outstanding refills and even stop seeing you altogether.

Getting into the legalities, altering a prescription is an illegal act and is described as a crime under Sec. 481.129 (a-1) “Obtains or attempts to obtain from practitioner by fraud.

The penalties for altering a prescription may vary from state to state. However, in general, there are three levels of crime for altering a prescription. We’ve outlined these as follows.

  • Altering a prescription for schedule 1 and 2 drugs is measured as a 2nd-degree felony, which can result in up to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. 
  • Altering a prescription for schedule 3 and 4 drugs is measured as a 3rd-degree felony, which could carry 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
  • Altering a prescription for a schedule 5 drug is measured as a misdemeanor. This can carry up to one year in county jail and a fine of $4,000.

These 3 levels of crime are listed in Penal Code Chapter 12 Punishments. 

To Close

Simply put, regardless of your circumstances, your medical needs, or how brave you may feel, altering a prescription is only going to be detrimental. If you have addictions or needs beyond what you’re being prescribed, your doctor should be able to provide additional support and care routes for you to follow.

If your prescriptions are becoming expensive, then Prescription Hope may be able to help. We work with over 180 pharmaceutical manufacturers and utilize their patient assistance programs to provide you with a flat-rate cost for your medication. Enroll with us to find out if you’re eligible to pay only $50 a month for each of your medications.