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How to avoid the panic of running out of meds

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Are you waiting to start meds, or thinking of switching to a new med?  If so, this could help.

One of the top tips my provider gave me when I started meds, after years of doing everything non-pharma, was that I should get my prescriptions filled one month before I'd actually start taking them.  He had so many horror stories of patients calling him on weekends from the all-night pharmacy, or having to have something sent via overnight delivery because they'd run out away from home.

With one exception (resistance which called for immediate switching) I've done this with all new meds I've added.  Even the emergency switch worked out fine.  A friend got a month's supply of the new med for me, and life was once again full of peace.

Another tip I figured out is to take a couple of doses and place them wherever I think I might need them.  At work in a desk, in my backpack, at a friend's house.  I put them in dated Ziploc bags and rotate them with the ones I'm taking now so they don't get old.  Even the warnings about refrigerating Kaletra and Norvir don't scare me.  I keep the new bottles in the fridge, but as for the spare doses, they can be at room temp for up to a month, according to my provider.

These two things can greatly reduce that panic-stricken feeling of missing a vital part of my life-support system.  The mind-body connection and its effect on our immune system is undervalued in general ... I'm trying to reduce stress where I can!

Dear sfca: (san francisco?  My favorite place in the whole world!)  Thank you so much for you advice.  When I started taking meds 12 years ago, it never occurred to me to get a month in advance (of course, I thought I only had the weekend to live) and on several occasions, when I had to go out of town around the time I had to refill meds, I had to have an 'over-ride' completed by my HR department. IT was a major hassle. 
  I've carried ice-packs in my back pack for my Norvir and, at least once, actual ice cubes (that was a mess!) to keep the Norvir cold. 
  We need to collect all this sage advice and put out a pamphlet or something. Thanks again, chris

Hello SCFA, it is Eldon. A month's supply in advance? Why didn't I think about that. I have to drive 200 miles one-way to pick up my meds each month. It is a hassle. Anycase, I appreciate the advice. I found it helpful.

Hi everyone,

This is what do to ease my mind. My insurence refills my perscriptions every 3 weeks. If you do that instead of every four weeks you ending having a surplus of meds just in case. Think of it 3 goes into 52 divided by 3 is 17.3. 52 divided by four is 13.  I also keep meds at my best friends and in my car in case i'm not by home.

Thanks Eldon, cflas, and gaysaywhat.  Chris, I just read the Norvir page here at -- it says Norvir can be left unrefrigerated up to two months if kept below 25oC/77oF.  That won't be a problem for Kaletra now that it's a tablet rather than the older gel-capsule.

Eldon, a 400 mile trip each month?  Yikes ... that must be hard.  Would they do mail-order for you?  I think there are some HIV-specialty pharmacies which do that, and for sure, big national chains like Walgreen offer it.  A lot of insurance now requires mail order for more than one or two months worth of meds per year, so that puts some of us automatically into an Rx-by-mail  program. 

And gaysaywhat, that's a good idea, getting the refill early to add up a few extras here and there.  I can't do that, because ADAP here is totally anal about exactly 30 days elapsing between the previous refill and the present one. 

This might be too obvious, but many pharmacies have an automatic refill system for maintenance meds.  I'd imagine many of us already take advantage of something like that.    Also, some pharmacies let you go online and request a refill of an active Rx.  For example, something you take occasionally.  You just sign in to your account and click on the med you need to refill.  It's open 24/7, and you don't have to wait on hold.   :P

Those weekly pill boxes are great for sorting out what I need in advance, and best of all, being a memory-jogger if I can't remember if I've taken it yet -- as in "did I already take them, or did I just think about taking them?"   HIV specialists get them free from drug reps, and pharmacies sell them.  I've seen them with one, two, and or three compartments per day.

Anyone else have any tricks you use to manage meds?  I'd be interested to hear.  Hope you're all doing well. Thanks for all you do to make this a great place.



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