Sunday, May 1, 2011

Stocking up on medications

Here's a post from the Archives that I think would help a lot of people. It's easy to stock up on food, but what about prescription medicines? I think this has taken on particular importance to me this week, now that I'm officially without health insurance until I land a new job, and I know I'm not the only one in such a situation.

I think it's also important to remember to stock up on vitamins and other supplements as well--you need to make sure you're getting all of the necessary nutrients, especially during high-stress periods. We've got extra bottles vitamin C and plenty of fish-oil capsules, as well as men's and women's vitamins for me and the missus.

In the event of personal, local or national emergencies or other natural or manmade disasters, if you’re like millions of people who must take various medications on a regular basis, you might be out of luck if something happens and keeps your medicines from getting to the store shelves. Many people’s quality of life would be severely diminished if they couldn’t get their medicine, so having an ample stockpile of drugs that aren’t controlled substances is just common sense.

I realize that a lot of people either don’t have insurance and have trouble paying out-of-pocket for more than a month’s supply of any particular medication at one time, or whatever medications they take might be subject to DEA restrictions on how much of the drug they can be prescribed within a particular time frame. So for what it’s worth, I’ll share my approach to stocking up on the meds I need every day and hope it might help you as well.

Rule #1 should be obvious: Talk to your doctor. Depending on the medication you’re on and your drug plan, your doctor may be able to increase the authorized dosage and/or number of pills for certain medications that aren’t controlled substances to allow you to build up a surplus.

I’m on an old-school antidepressant (nortriptylene) as a migraine preventive, which works rather well — I’ve been on it for about two years. I take 50 mg. at bedtime. My neurologist had originally written the prescription for up to 100 mg. Once I realized that 50 mg. was keeping my migraines in check, I kept getting refills on the same day each month and just put the new refills behind the older ones — first in, first out. At my six-month followup appointment, I told my doctor that 50 mg. was doing the trick but asked her if she could keep my prescription written for 100 mg. so that I could build up a surplus just in case of job loss or anything else, I told her. Since nortriptylene isn’t a controlled substance, she said she’d be willing to do that. I have 13 months worth of nortriptylene in my medicine cabinet at the moment.

The only other meds I take on a regular basis are Claritin for allergies (I’m allergic to cats but have two cats anyway — they adopted me) and I take 800 mg. of generic Aleve every night at bedtime for my fibromyalgia. I got four 60-tablet bottles of generic Claritin at Walmart for about $25, enough to last about eight months, and I don’t remember exactly how much the generic Aleve was at Sam’s Club, but I got three 400-count bottles for less than $50, and that’ll last me about 10 months. I also take 1000 mg. of Vitamin C every night at bedtime and got a big bottle of that as well at Sam’s Club (gotta keep my immune system in good shape).

I’d be interested in hearing from any of you who’ve also talked to your doctor about stocking up on medications. And be sure to ask your doctor or pharmacist about the shelf life of your medications, to make sure they will be safe if stored for an extended period.

For those of who who are medical practitioners, I’d be interested in hearing your ideas and perspectives as well.

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