Ask the Pharmacist: Should I Order My Meds Early?

Three Reasons to Not Stockpile

COVID-19 is a cause for concern, no doubt about it. Being cautious and prepared is the best way to stay healthy and help prevent the spread of illness.

Hand sanitizer may be in short supply these days, but advice on how to prepare for COVID-19 is not. Many news articles list items that people should have on hand if they find themselves homebound due to the virus. Among those items are prescription medications.

Stockpiling medications may sound like a smart idea, but there are three important reasons why you may not need to do it:

1. Ordering medications ahead is not necessary in most cases.

To be sure, people who rely on long-term medications should always take care to refill their medications on time so they never miss a dose. Most refill policies, like ours, allow you to refill when you have 25-35% of your current medication on hand. If you refill on time, you should have enough medication on hand to make it through a 14-day quarantine. If you need more, you can always have it filled through home delivery.

2. Stockpiling when not necessary could cause medication shortages in some cases.

Just like we’re seeing with basic needs, stockpiling puts a strain on supply. Pharmacies have sophisticated tools to monitor medication supplies and adjust inventories to account for events just like COVID-19. Stockpiling can disrupt that careful system and leave people without medication. This is especially concerning with medications for people with rare conditions, or conditions like hemophilia, where medications supplies are smaller.

3. Ordering too much medication leads to expensive waste.

Medications expire, and some have a very limited shelf-life. If you have more medication than you need, and then don’t get to use it, that medication goes to waste.  Medication waste costs our health care system billions each year, and contributes to increased health care costs for consumers.

There are ways you can achieve peace of mind with your medications during this time without concern. Here are a few ideas:

  • Looking for a longer-term supply? Ask your doctor for a prescription for a 90-day supply of your medication instead of a one-month supply. Your pharmacist can help you obtain the new prescription.
  • Want to avoid public places? Use Express Scripts Home Delivery, which can deliver up to 90-day supplies right to your door with free standard shipping.
  • Concerned about your medications? Call us! Our pharmacists are available 24/7/365 to answer your questions, offer counseling and support, and even help you transfer your medications to home delivery.

Use our website,, or download our mobile app to easily manage prescriptions and find participating pharmacies. These tools can help you refill and renew medications on time so there are no disruptions in therapy.


Stay Informed
Subscribe to our newsletter for regular updates and the latest thinking from our experts.