Transferring Medications?

Everything you need to know when transferring your prescription medications

(RxWiki News) Sometimes, an insurance change or a move to a new town means you have to change pharmacies. If you're in that situation, here's what you need to know about transferring your medications.

If you're going to transfer your medications from one pharmacy to another, you're going to want to give this task extra attention to avoid potential problems. Medication-related problems can arise at any time, but if you exercise caution as you change pharmacies, you can help lower the risk.

If you move to a new city or state and find a new pharmacy, you may tell the new pharmacy to transfer all of the medications from your previous pharmacy. You may forget that the new pharmacy doesn't know all of the details about your previous health care situation. So, when you pick up your medications, you may or may not not notice that, as you asked, they filled everything:

  • Even the medication the doctor told you to stop taking because it was causing issues. The new pharmacist wouldn't know about this, and if you're not paying attention, you might accidentally take the medication without even knowing it.
  • Even the medication your doctor had switched to another medication. Taking both the old medication and the new one can result in you taking too many medications to treat the same condition. This can lead to serious side effects.

During the transfer process, it's also important to check that all of your medications were actually transferred to the new pharmacy. Your pharmacist will also check this, but a second pair of eyes can never hurt.


Here's what you can do to ensure you transfer your medications appropriately and safely:

1) If you are moving to another city or across the US, you may want to ask your current health care provider for new prescriptions with enough refills for six months (may not feasible for certain controlled substances). This extra step can grant you the time to find a new doctor in your new place of residence, as well as a new pharmacy.

2) Before starting the transfer process, work with your health care provider and pharmacist to update your medication list. This can help remove outdated medications and prescriptions that might have changed over time.

Note that not all prescriptions can be transferred. These include certain controlled substances. And some controlled medications can only be transferred a select number of times. Of course, if you do not have any refills left or if the prescription is old (expired), these prescriptions cannot be transferred.

When you do find a new pharmacy:

Start by providing your most recent medication list to the new pharmacy.

It may be a good idea to schedule an appointment with your new pharmacist to go over your medications with you. This includes discussing the reason for each medication, the dose and how to take each medication. During this time, your pharmacist can also make sure that:

  • All of the medications that needed to be transferred were indeed transferred
  • They do not fill medications that your health care provider instructed you to stop taking
  • Your medications do not interact with each other
  • You are not taking medications that work similarly (duplicate therapy)
  • There are no other safety issues that can lead to medication-related problems

Your local community pharmacy is your go-to resource for medication questions. If you ever have questions about any medication you are taking, talk to your pharmacist and doctor.

Written by Anyssa Garza, PharmD, BCMAS