Prescription refills vs. renewals

A doctor writes a prescription for a patient.

Understanding the difference between a prescription refill and a prescription renewal can save you a lot of time and stress the next time you’re running low on your prescription medication.

What is a prescription refill?

If you’re eligible for a medication refill, that simply means you can order a new supply of your medication when you’re running low or out of medication without having to go through your prescriber.

When your doctor writes you a prescription, he or she will decide whether or not to include refills and how many you can have. That information can be found on the label attached to your prescription vial or container that holds your medication.

It’s important to be aware that not all medications come with refills. Medications to treat an acute infection, such as PaxlovidTM to treat COVID-19, or certain Schedule II controlled substances, such as those to treat pain or attention deficit disorders, are some examples.

What is a prescription renewal?

When you run out of medication refills for a maintenance medication that your prescriber has authorized, you’ll need to get a prescription renewal. This is, in essence, a new prescription for the same medication.

Oftentimes doctors will want to schedule periodic appointments to look over lab tests and assess how well the medication is treating your condition before renewing your prescription. This is particularly common when starting a new maintenance medication like blood pressure or diabetic medications.

In situations where you don’t need to be seen, you can request a prescription renewal by emailing or calling your doctor’s office or calling your pharmacy and having them put in a request to your prescriber for a renewal.

How Express Scripts® Pharmacy can help with refills and renewals

We understand how stressful it can be to run out of the medication you need. At Express Scripts® Pharmacy, we make refilling prescriptions easy by providing 90-day fills and refill reminders before you run out. We also offer automatic refills for eligible medications, so medications are delivered right to your door when you need them without you having to remember.

We also let you know in advance when you’re out of refills and it’s time to renew your prescription. We can even reach out to your doctor on your behalf to get a new prescription if an appointment is not needed. These are just some of the ways Express Scripts® Pharmacy is here for you.

Posted date: August 11, 2022

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