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A Pharmacist's Tips for Picking Up Medications During the COVID-19 Outbreak

Frieda Wiley, PharmD - Blogs
By Frieda Wiley, PharmD, RPhApril 20, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused us all to make some lifestyle changes—and going to the pharmacy is no exception. We’re all trying to stay home to reduce chances of getting the virus or spreading it to someone else, so here are some pointers that could save you a trip or two.

1. Call the pharmacy and see if they can fill all your prescriptions at the same time, so you only have to make one trip. Since you may not have been prescribed all your medications on the same day, you might find yourself having to run to the pharmacy more than once a month to pick up all your prescriptions. However, you can ask your pharmacy if they can set up your refills so that you can pick up all your medications on the same day. The formal name for this process is called medication synchronization.

2. Stock up on your medications to try to keep from running out. Ask if you can switch to mail order or get 90-day supplies of your medications. Some pharmacies also offer home delivery. But before you do this, please be aware that the pharmacy may have to call your doctor’s office for permission to fill 90-day supplies of your medication if the original prescription was written for you to receive less than a 90-day supply. Just keep in mind that mail order may not be a good idea for medications that require refrigeration, so you might want to run this by your pharmacist first—just in case.

Also, as a gentle reminder, if you have a chronic condition such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, or COPD, getting the coronavirus increases your risk for developing complications—and even death. The same applies if you have a weakened immune system from have cancer or taking medications that stress your immune system, such as corticosteroids or medications to help keep your body from rejecting an organ transplant. That’s why it’s even more important now than ever to make sure you don’t run out of your medications.

3. If you need to speak with someone in the pharmacy, try to resolve the issue with a phone call first. Some pharmacies may also have messaging systems to help resolve any problems you have with your prescription or other questions you might have.

Even when you do your best to stay home, there are some times where you just have to leave the house to make an essential run.

If you absolutely must go to the pharmacy, here are a few tips to reduce your risk of getting infected or infecting other people:

  • Use the drive-through window—if your pharmacy has one.
  • Wear a mask, even if you are going through the drive-through. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now asking everyone going out into public and encountering essential workers to wear a mask or scarf covering your nose and mouth.
  • Use hand sanitizers following the exchange of money, credit cards, loyalty cards, and goods.
  • If you must enter the pharmacy, try to maintain a distance of 6-feet or more away from other patients as well as the pharmacy staff.
  • Avoid touching unnecessary items or browsing.
  • Skip using the onsite blood pressure monitor. If you need to monitor your blood pressure between doctor’s visits, now is probably a good time to spring for one. You can get a decent one for under $20.
  • Use a Q-tip, the tip of a pencil eraser, or your knuckle to touch the pin pad if you are required to sign anything. Please note: The Q-tip may or may not work on some electronic pads.


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About the Author
Frieda Wiley, PharmD, RPh

Frieda Wiley, PharmD, RPh, is a clinical pharmacist, contract medical writer, and consultant. She has numerous publications to her credit, including O! The Oprah Magazine,Arthritis Today, US News & World Report, Everyday Health, and Costco Connection. To read more about Frieda, visit her website or follow her on Twitter.

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