Healthcare officials recommend planning ahead for needed prescriptions

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) — Sharp HealthCare Thursday advised those who rely on so-called maintenance medications to plan ahead in order to avoid running out of them amid the array of everyday challenges posed by the coronavirus crisis.

Setting aside an emergency supply of prescription drugs can be challenging, since safety rules limit how much of them a patient can receive at one time, the San Diego-area healthcare provider pointed out.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, many health plans are temporarily relaxing these guidelines and allowing early refills of prescriptions that people need on an ongoing basis.

“Certain prescription drugs are called maintenance medications because they help patients to maintain treatment for chronic, long-term conditions like high blood pressure,” said Kate Tepedino, manager of pharmacy benefits at Sharp Health Plan.

For those who rely on such medicines, Tepedino recommends the following:

  • Continue to take all current medications, unless otherwise directed by your doctor.
  • Check with your health plan to determine if it is easing prescription refill guidelines. Some plans are allowing maintenance medications, with the exception of controlled substances, to be refilled early.
  • Contact your drugstore and check if you need a prescription refill. If so, you can ask the pharmacist to contact your doctor for you.
  • Ask your pharmacy if delivery is an option. Many pharmacies are currently waiving fees for the service.

Since opioids, other controlled substances and certain medications cannot be refilled early, a new prescription is required to provide an emergency supply of them, Sharp officials pointed out.

“We are here to assist patients with getting what they need to protect their health,” said Cary Shames, chief medical officer for Sharp Health Plan. “We know that this is a very difficult time, and we’re here to help.”

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