Can You Fill the Same Prescription at Different Pharmacies?

Posted by Prescription Hope - See Editorial Guidelines (Last Updated On: Thu Feb 02 2023)

Whether by intent, confusion, or a simple mistake, you may be wondering if you can fill a prescription twice. If you’re looking for details on what happens if you want to fill your prescription again or at a different pharmacy, then this article will address that for you.

Can You Fill The Same Prescription At Different Pharmacies? With the advancements of pharmacy networks, management software, and state-run programs such as the prescription monitoring program, the majority of pharmacies throughout the USA can track prescriptions. As such restricts the ability to fill the same prescription at different pharmacies.

The leading cause of injury deaths in the USA is reported to be an overdose of medications and opioid addiction.

The prescription for pain relievers and heroin dependence/addiction is said to be responsible for more than half of these deaths. As such there are several state and non-state programs, systems, and processes that are established to prevent anybody from filling the same prescription from different pharmacies. 

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Why You Cannot Fill the Same Prescription at Different Pharmacies

Nobody would want to fill the same prescription at different pharmacies without an underlying cause. Especially if you’re filling the prescription out of your own pocket, it only costs you more.

But if you want to fill the same prescription at different pharmacies, it is often going to be for some negative reason that you can’t or won’t disclose.

Whether the request is innocent or not, from a pharmacy’s and the law’s perspective, anybody who wants to fill the same prescription at different pharmacies has the following two reasons which are either harmful or illegal.

1. Harmful Reasons Why Pharmacies Won’t Fill the Same Prescription Twice

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Some patients attempt to obtain a large number of certain medications that they have become addicted to. This addiction mainly comes in the form of opioids (narcotic pain medications like Oxycontin, Percocet, or Vicodin).

Usually, when it comes to these medications, the doctor tends to prescribe a low dosage that was effective at the time the prescription was written, with no instructions to increase any dosage drastically.

So, when patients need more drugs to get the same effect (relief) for their pain, and if their doctor is not willing to prescribe more, they try to fill the same prescription at different pharmacies.

On the other hand, sometimes doctors prescribe painkillers only for a short period for a legitimate pain condition. So, when the drugs are finished, the patient may find a sense of relief in continuing the use of that substance – even though it’s no longer required. During this condition may patients try to fill the same prescription at different pharmacies.

As such if these patients are provided with the same painkillers or relievers twice or more at different pharmacies, it could lead to an overdose that could cause life-threatening results. It’s estimated that around 12 million people over the age of 12 abused prescription pain relievers in 2015.

2. Illegal Reasons Why Pharmacies Won’t Fill the Same Prescription Twice

Some patients try to re-sell medications to earn money to buy other drugs that support behavioral addiction. Whereas some patients just want to re-sell medications such as controlled substances because they need money for other purposes. These are all acts of drug dealing or drug trafficking, which are highly illegal.

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Alternatively, some patients may want to re-use certain drugs to form another drug that may be illegal.

As an example, a recreational stimulant can be created and sold by crushing stimulant drugs like Adderall prescribed for ADD. This is another form of drug dealing or trafficking, which again is illegal.

When you read the above reasons, you can clearly understand that filling the same prescription at different pharmacies is either harmful to you or that you may be promoting an illegal act, which the pharmacy ultimately may be held responsible and accountable for.

If a patient dies or any evidence of drug trafficking is encountered as a result of a pharmacy filling an already-filled prescription, the pharmacy will be held responsible for the consequences. The pharmacy or the pharmacist can either be fined, or jailed or the pharmacy license can be confiscated.

Therefore, many pharmacies and even countries have now developed systems, processes, and programs to efficiently track prescriptions. This way a patient will not be able to fill the same prescription in different pharmacies. You can ask us for help if you genuinely cannot afford your medication.

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How Do Pharmacies Track Prescriptions

Pharmacies now use sophisticated pharmacy management software to track prescriptions. This software has a member profile for every patient.

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Every member profile will have details of the patients from their name, address, allergies, and insurance information, to other important demographic data. This system will keep a consistent record of all the prescriptions that the patient brings to the pharmacy. 

This system can also be interconnected to other chains of pharmacies.

So, all the pharmacies that are interconnected to this system will have access to the prescription details of patients who filled at the pharmacies registered under the system.

As such when a patient tries to fill the same prescription in different pharmacies within the system, the pharmacy will be made aware of it. This way patients trying to fill the same prescription in different pharmacies can be prevented – to a greater extent.

Apart from this purpose, these sophisticated systems also help to identify the allergies related to each patient when filling a prescription.

This way if a patient’s details show the patient is allergic to a specific drug prescribed to be filled, the pharmacist can warn the patient and inquire about it further with the patient and/or the doctor, this prevents any adverse interactions with the prescription drugs.

While that’s a system among the pharmacies to track prescriptions, in the USA, there is a state-run program that tracks and monitors perceptions of controlled substances. Let’s take a look at how it works.

State-Run Prescription Monitoring Program

In the USA, the prescription monitoring program or prescription drug monitoring program is a state-run program that helps track prescriptions of controlled substances.

This program aims mainly at collecting and distributing data about the prescriptions of patients filling controlled substances, the dispensing of legally controlled substances, and other legally appropriate potential addictive or abusable prescription drugs. So if you’re out of town in a different state, then see our article about filling prescriptions in different states.

This program assists pharmacists, nurses, prescribers, dentists, physicians, physician assistants, practitioners, and other support staff to contribute to the legitimate use of controlled substances by patients while limiting prescription abuse and diversions.

Under this program, the pharmacies dispensing controlled substances are required to register under their respective state’s Prescription Monitoring Program. The registration will make them accountable and required to report the dispensation of controlled prescriptions to an online database.

This way all the pharmacies within the state, registered in this program will have access to the patient details when filling controlled substance prescriptions. Your Doctor will know too.

This will then show a red flag when the same controlled substance prescription is trying to be filled at different pharmacies within the state by the same person or prescription. Currently, 49 states in the US have implemented PDMP but there’s little evidence of the effectiveness of this program. 

What Happens If You Try to Fill the Same Prescription at Two Different Pharmacies

Not all pharmacies may have implemented these systems and there can be instances where you can potentially get the same prescription filled in different pharmacies. This is possible only where the laws are less rigid, or if the pharmacists or the pharmacies are less concerned or vigilant about scanning your prescription.

In any event, if you try to fill the same prescription twice at different pharmacies and if the pharmacist suspects what you are doing, they may call your doctor. This will make your next visit to the doctor very unpleasant and quite embarrassing. Doing this may destroy your reputation and lose the sense of trust the doctor has in you.

On the other hand, pharmacists also have all the legal right to refuse to fill your prescription, either on this occasion or in the future, even if it’s a genuine attempt to fill.

The pharmacist can also spread awareness among neighboring pharmacies or other pharmacists on a similar network about the situation, which may then make it difficult or awkward for you every time you try to fill a prescription in the area.

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To close

Most instances when this occurs are usually out of confusion or mistake. Most pharmacists will know and will be familiar with attempts at obtaining drugs illegally and when mistakes occur. So, there is nothing to worry about, if you are confused as to whether your prescription has yet been filled, then consult with your doctor or pharmacist for assistance.

This article is for guidance purposes only, you should always consult your doctor or a pharmacist directly to obtain the correct response for your region or state and bespoke to your situation. However, we hope this has been useful in helping you as a guide, to understand more about filling prescriptions

If you have any questions about how Prescription Hope can help you save money on drugs that we offer, or if you’re having trouble affording any of the medications you’ve been prescribed, contact us, or visit the enrollment page to create an account and fill out an application to start saving.