What should you do if your usual pharmacy is closed right now? – The Philadelphia Inquirer

By | June 3, 2020

Around the country, affected businesses have included pharmacies. CVS, for example, has seen more than 250 stores in 21 states damaged over the last few days, with about 60 stores currently remaining closed, a CVS Health representative said.

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David Thompson, 50, who lives near 63rd and Lansdowne, said that in Philadelphia, residents in need are feeling the impact.

“A lot of people had to go shopping and they couldn’t go shopping because all the shopping places are closed, from ShopRite to Rite Aid and all these shopping centers in the neighborhood — because they got ransacked,” Thompson said. “So that puts everybody in a bind — you can’t get anything to eat, you can’t get your medications. It’s rough.”

If you are having trouble getting your medication at your usual pharmacy, you may be able to get it elsewhere. Pennsylvania’s Pharmacy Act allows pharmacies to transfer prescriptions to other pharmacies.

“The access to medicine is essential,” said state Department of Health spokesman Nate Wardle. “The department frequently recommends that during a disaster, people take steps to ensure they have extra medication on hand should they not be able to get to the pharmacy. This time is no different. Individuals should work with their physician and pharmacies that are open to make sure they have access to their medication.”

Here is what you need to know:

Contact your usual pharmacy first

Should your regular pharmacy be closed, the first step is to try to contact that location to see if your prescription can be transferred. Or, if your usual pharmacy is part of a chain, said Philadelphia Department of Public Health director of communications James Garrow, you may be able to go to another location in that chain.

“You should first go to another store in the same pharmacy chain, because all stores within a chain will have your prescription information,” Garrow said.

Some chains, such as CVS, may set up call-forwarding services that will connect you to a nearby location if you call your usual store and it is closed. That way, “all patients will continue to have access to care,” said Amy Thibault, CVS Health senior manager of corporate communications.

“There can be a delay for this automatic phone transfer to occur due to the status of neighboring stores as well, so customers should continue to check back to be directed to the nearest open store,” Thibault added.

Try another chain

If you are unable to find a store that is part of your usual pharmacy chain, Garrow said that the next step may be to try finding an open store that is part of another chain. That way, you may be able to have your prescription transferred.

“Go to an open store from a different pharmacy chain and ask the pharmacist to request your prescription information from the chain you regularly go to,” Garrow said.

When choosing a new store to pick up your medication, you may be able to price it out via the website GoodRX.com. That site allows you to check the cost of prescriptions at various pharmacies, and may offer a discount.

Contact your physician

Garrow added that if your usual pharmacy is not part of a chain, or other pharmacists are unable to get your information, you should contact your physician for a new prescription.

“The patient will need a new prescription from their prescriber that can be filled by an open pharmacy,” said Laura Weis, the Pennsylvania Department of State’s deputy director of communications.

However, said Michael Ingeno, a retired pharmacist with more than 30 years of experience at Bryn Mawr Hospital and Pennsylvania Hospital, you may need to provide an open pharmacy where your doctor can send your prescription. So this route may require some legwork.

“The doctor can write, say, one month’s worth of a blood pressure prescription,” Ingeno said. “The doctor will ask you where to send it. You need to know a pharmacy that is open.”

Staff writer Wendy Ruderman contributed to this article.

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