How Early Can You Fill Your Controlled Substance Prescription?

The pharmacist discusses how early you will be allowed to fill a controlled substance at your pharmacy.

Question

My pharmacy allows controlled substances to be filled 2 days early for 30 day supplies. Does this mean that the next fill after a receiving a 90 day supply could be filled 6 days early? Thanks

Asked by Peter On Jul 13, 2018

Answered by
Medical Content Reviewed By PharmacistAnswers Staff

On Jul 13, 2018

Doctor Writing RxHow early you can fill a controlled substance prescription depends on numerous factors, including:

  • The laws in the state where you live.
  • What you doctor allows.
  • The policies of your pharmacy.
  • Your controlled substance fill history.


Below, we discuss each factor.


State Laws For Controlled Substance Refills

The most important factor in how early you can fill your controlled substance are the pharmacy laws in your state, which all differ. In New York for example, you are legally allowed to have up to an extra 7 days supply on hand. Per New York State Controlled Substance Law Part 80:

Unless an earlier refilling is authorized by the prescriber, no prescription shall be refilled earlier than seven days prior to the date the previously dispensed supply would be exhausted if used in conformity with the directions for use.

It is important to note that if your doctor or pharmacy has stricter policies, you may not be able to fill 7 days early. In addition, other states (besides New York) may be stricter.


What Your Doctor Allows

Your doctor may hold your refill date closer to the time you are about to run out. Many pain management doctors for example, will write the exact fill date on your prescription. In extenuating circumstances (i.e. going on vacation), they may authorize a fill earlier than usual, but this isn't overly common.


What Your Pharmacy Allows

Every pharmacy has their own controlled substance fill policies, which may even vary within a single pharmacy chain. Some follow exactly what their respective state law says while some may be more strict. In your example, you stated your pharmacy allows 2 days early on a refill. Some pharmacies will hold patients to the day they are due.


Your Controlled Substance Fill History

Another big factor is your fill and refill history for controlled substances. In general, your early refill times are cumulative, meaning you can't continuously fill your controlled substance early every time. For example:

  • Month 1: Filled two days early
  • Month 2: Filled one day early
  • Month 3: Filled four days early
  • Month 4: Filled on due date


In the above fill scenario, you would have a cumulative total of 7 days early. After that time, you would no longer be legally able to fill your prescription early again (in New York at least) unless your prescription changes.


Also, the day supply of your prescription doesn't matter in regard to how early you can fill it. If your pharmacy allows a 2 day early refill, that will be 2 days early for a 30 day prescription, and 2 days early for a 90 day prescription.


If you have further questions about the fill policy of your state and specific pharmacy, be sure to speak with your pharmacist.

About the Pharmacist

Dr. Brian Staiger Pharm.D

Dr. Brian Staiger is a licensed pharmacist in New York State and the founder of PharmacistAnswers.com. He graduated from the University At Buffalo with a Doctor of Pharmacy degree in 2010. He has been featured in numerous publications including the Huffington Post as well as a variety of health and pharmacy-related blogs. Please feel free to reach out to him directly if you have any inquiries or want to connect! He's answered thousands of medication and pharmacy-related questions and he's ready to answer yours! Brian.Staiger@PharmacistAnswers.com Office: 716-389-3076

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