What Does "Earliest Fill Date" Mean?

In our latest question and answer, the pharmacist discusses what it means if "earliest fill date" is written on your prescription.


If my prescription says earliest fill date is 7-18-2018 and I forgot to take it to be filled, can it still be filled the next day?

Asked by Becky On Jul 19, 2018

Answered by
Medical Content Reviewed By PharmacistAnswers Staff

On Jul 19, 2018

When your prescription specifies an "earliest fill date", it simply means you cannot fill the prescription before that date. You can however, fill it on that date or after. In your example, with the earliest fill day of 7/18/18, you can:

  • Fill it on or after 7/18/18, but not before.

An "earliest fill date" indicator can come from one of three places:

  • Your doctor
  • Your pharmacy
  • Your insurance company

If it is coming from your doctor or pharmacy, your prescription is most likely a controlled substance, which have strict requirements in regard to when they are able to be filled and refilled.

While some states have laws regarding how soon you can fill a controlled substance prescription (up to 7 days early in NYS for example), your doctor may hold you to a specific time frame (e.g. only one day early or on the exact day you are due). Your pharmacy may also have certain policies in regard to how early they will fill certain prescriptions.

Insurance companies can also specify an "earliest fill date" in terms of when they will cover a particular drug fill based on how early it is and your fill history. It is important to note that even if your insurance company will pay for your prescription or your pharmacy says it is legally able to be filled, the earliest fill date your doctor put on the prescription will take priority.

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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