By Patricia Prewitt

My Personal Rx Adviser

Most of us start the new year with good intentions of creating positive new habits and embracing a more organized life. This is a terrific time to take a good look at your medicine cabinet. 

Do you wonder if you really need all of those prescriptions? Physicians may be in the habit of renewing long-standing prescriptions, especially if no significant changes have occurred to your health status. At each visit, be sure to double check your medications list to be sure all prescriptions remain relevant for your health.

Just like the auto-renewal of magazines and other subscriptions, you may be filling and paying for prescriptions that are no longer needed. Mail order pharmacies auto renew for 12 months. 

What if I am too shy to ask about my medications, or I am embarrassed to admit I don’t understand why I take a prescription? Clinicians appreciate patients who want to learn ways to stay healthy. Phrases like “Remind me again why I need to be taking_______” or “Can any of these medications be safely eliminated?” alerts the provider to more closely review your current medications list, and the opportunity to provide patient education.

What happens if my clinician advises me to stop taking a prescription? For a mail-order service, quickly call and follow the steps required to cancel the prescription to avoid paying for another three months of medication. By law, prescriptions that are shipped may not be returned for reuse or resale. No credit can be issued. 

Important to note: Once a medication is discontinued, it may affect another prescription. Sometimes a second prescription is written to address known side effects. For example, an anti-nausea medication can be prescribed with a cancer medication. 

An astute friend of mine shared her delight at being able to discontinue a medication. However, they forgot to tell her she could also discontinue a second medication being used to manage side effects. When the pharmacy called to remind her to pick up Rx #2 (the side effects Rx) she verified with her doctor that it was OK to abandon that prescription, saving nearly $150. Always check with your prescriber first. 

What happens if I do not pick up my prescription at my local pharmacy? The term used here is prescription “abandonment.” Typically, a local pharmacy will phone you multiple times to remind you to pick up a waiting prescription. If it is not picked up within seven days, the local pharmacy is allowed to restock the product.

What if something about the billing just doesn’t seem right? Your first option is to refuse to pay for the prescription. An employee at the consultation area will explain more about your plan costs. Paying cash (or using a savings coupon) instead of using your Rx insurance may be a more cost effective option. Ask! 

What happens if I don’t notice something is wrong until I get home? Errors can and do happen in processing, especially between December and January, when prescription plans change. When I changed from an employer plan to a Medicare Part D prescription plan, the computer systems did not update properly. I paid about $17 for an inexpensive generic medication, and didn’t look carefully until I was home. “No insurance” was noted, even though I had uploaded my new Rx card to the online portal. After multiple phone calls to both my former employer and the new Med D plan, the records finally updated. The pharmacy was able to issue a store credit, because I was within a seven-day window of the original charge. The correct price was $2.10.

About the Author: Patricia Prewitt is a local Massachusetts resident who spent over 30 years in the pharmaceutical industry. Tricia is a consumer education advocate, and loves helping people find ways to save money on their prescriptions. More information and free resources are available on her website at or call her at 508-507-8840. Favorite Quote: “Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.” – William James

Content provided is for education purposes only, and is not intended as a substitute for advice from a qualified medical professional. The opinions expressed within are those of the author.