How can I get prescription drugs during an emergency?
Superstorm Sandy devastated not just homes and property, but people’s ability to get needed health care, too. A quarter of the people in our survey of online subscribers in Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York said Sandy caused medical hardships, especially with getting prescription drugs by mail and closed pharmacies.
Here are four tips from Selig Corman, R.Ph., consultant pharmacist and director of professional affairs at the Pharmacists Society of the State of New York, on what to do during an emergency:
1. Make a drug list and keep a copy with you. That way, if you have to evacuate or your drugs are damaged, you know what drugs need to be refilled. The list should include the drug name, strength, dosage form, and regimen for each medication.
2. Use Rx Open. The online tool lets patients map the location of open and closed pharmacies in a disaster area. That is especially helpful if your local pharmacy is closed, and you need prescriptions filled right away. The tool was created by Rx Response, a group formed after Hurricane Katrina to help people get access to prescription drugs after an emergency.
3. Take your drugs with you. If you evacuate, take all your drugs with you. If you have to be away from home for a long time, ask your doctor for a 60- to 90-day supply of your prescription drugs. Ask your insurance plan whether it offers extended-day supplies and which pharmacies you can use to get them.
4. Discard damaged drugs. Throw out any damaged medications or pills that are wet or look or smell different, as they may be contaminated by flood waters.
For more on what you should know about getting medical treatment and supplies before, during and after a natural disaster, read:
Preparing for emergencies [American Society of Health-Systems Pharmacists]
Getting your prescription drugs in a disaster or emergency [Medicare.gov]
Disaster preparation and recovery [National Institutes of Health]
Safe drug use after a disaster [US Food & Drug Administration]