Can You Cancel a Prescription? Here’s What To Do!

Posted September 28, 2020 by Michael Chamberlain - See Editorial Guidelines

Have you ever needed to cancel a prescription? Then you’ll know that canceling a prescription isn’t always a simple or smooth process. Requesting a prescription to be canceled usually has to be communicated through both the pharmacy and the doctor’s office and involves some processes.

This article will provide a clear guide on the question can you cancel a prescription. But first, let’s give you a quick takeaway guide, then we’ll head into more details.

Can you cancel a prescription? You can cancel a prescription. Written prescriptions are harder to cancel than E-prescriptions. An electronic prescription can be canceled in real-time through your doctor because pharmacies are connected to a system. You can cancel an E-prescriptions using patient access on a pharmacy’s website.

So, now that we know it is possible to cancel a prescription let’s look at how this all works.

Canceling a Prescription

Can You Cancel a Prescription

Before trying to cancel your prescription, you should consult your doctor and explain your reasoning. Your doctor will only prescribe medications that they believe will help you and improve your overall condition.

So, canceling a prescription without consulting your doctor can lead to an increase in the severity of your condition, as you will not get the treatment you need.

In some cases your doctor may agree that the prescription should be canceled. For example, if you forgot to mention that you have a certain allergy to an ingredient that is in the prescribed drug or if you discover other medicines you are taking that can interact with the prescribed drug.

After consulting your doctor, you can either choose to not fill the written prescription given to you or cancel the electronic prescription.

Canceling a written prescription is not very straightforward. The only reason you would need to cancel a written prescription is if you lost the paper and are afraid someone else will try to fill it.

Here is the breakdown of canceling the different types of prescriptions.

How to Cancel a Written Prescription

We assume you want to cancel a written prescription because you lost it and fear someone else might fill it. Only your doctor will be able to cancel a written prescription, but very often it will not be successful.

But first, go to your doctor and let them know the reason why you want to cancel the prescription.

Depending on your reasons for canceling, your doctor may try to cancel the prescription. The doctor will inform the chain of pharmacies he/she is connected to and try to stop a prescription being filled. 

They will give the details with the copy that they have, plus any reference number or any other unique details.

But since it’s not an E-prescription the chain of pharmacies or the link between pharmacies and doctors is more informal. Therefore, canceling written prescriptions is very often unsuccessful.

However, if the pharmacist needs to verify certain information, they may call the doctor’s office. If you have informed the doctor about wanting to cancel the prescription, then the pharmacists can then cancel it.

This would aide in preventing prescription drug abuse and forgeries.

On the other hand, if the prescription you wish to cancel was lost and contains controlled medications, then doctors and officials can find out who filled it. This is because, by law, every state has a drug monitoring program specifically for controlled substances.

So, prescribers and dispensers are required to record data on prescribing and dispensing controlled medications in the system. If you want to know who filled a prescription you lost, you can request the data following a specified procedure.

If you’re looking to cancel the prescription due to an error, then you should read our article on altering a prescription.

How to Cancel an Electronic Prescription

For canceling an electronic prescription, you can easily call your doctor’s office and request to cancel the prescription with a valid reason.

For electronic prescriptions, the pharmacies and doctors are connected to a system so that prescriptions can be sent and canceled in real-time.

If and when a prescription is canceled the pharmacist will not be able to download it from the pharmacy’s end.

How to Cancel an Electronic Prescription Using Patient Access

You can also cancel an electronic prescription through patient access. Pharmacies offer this service for electronic prescriptions.

This is more suitable if you get prescriptions filled through the mail. This can also work for just normally canceling an electronic prescription.

Can You Cancel a Prescription

It is important to mention that you must first be registered in order to get to be able to use the patient access portal. The steps to cancel an electronic prescription through a pharmacy’s patient access are as follows.

  • Log in using your registered details.
  • Go to the patient’s timeline or the patient’s profile.
  • In the timeline section, you will have different options from which you have to choose E-prescriptions.
  • After selecting E-prescription, you will see a prescription for each medication you have been prescribed. Select the prescription that you want to cancel.
  • After choosing which prescription you want to cancel, you will be asked to confirm your cancellation, after which the pharmacy will be notified.
  • If the cancellation request is approved, the prescription that is not dispensed and any remaining refills will be canceled.
  • If the medication is already dispensed, you cannot cancel it, but you can choose the option to cancel any refills.
  • The status of your cancellation request will show as pending until a response from the pharmacy is received.
  • Depending on the pharmacy’s decision, you will get a message when the cancellation request is either accepted or denied.
  • Prescriptions that are in pending status or error status cannot be canceled.
  • Some pharmacies may want you to mention the reasons why you’re canceling the prescription.
  • Some pharmacies offer the ability to cancel prescription somewhere between 24-48 hours after the prescription has been received. After this period, the cancellation option is disabled.

These are the standard steps you’ll need to follow to cancel a prescription through patient access.

However, it’s important to remember that the layout of every pharmacy system, procedure, and website may differ. Therefore, the exact process may differ slightly.

If the pharmacy does not offer online cancellation for prescriptions, then you won’t see any options for cancellation through the website. If this is the case, you may need to call the pharmacy and make a verbal request to cancel the prescription.

Once the pharmacy dispenses a medication package to your mailing address, it cannot be returned or refunded.

The state laws prohibit pharmacies from accepting exchanges or returns on prescriptions. This is in place to protect the integrity of the medications and the health of the patients.


We hope this has answered the question of can you cancel a prescription. If in any doubt, always contact your pharmacy or even your doctor’s office to obtain further advice.

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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 are eligible to pay only $50 a month for each of your medications.