We live in a society where lots of people are on medication, and many of them actually need them. I say this because too many people like a fix in a pill instead of changing their behaviors. In spite of this, I am lucky enough to be the father of two special needs kids who have to have medication every day. I also have two aging parents that for better or worse are on a laundry list of medications as well. I don't think many people consider the impact of our medication dependent society, and how this will physically and emotionally impact even short term preparedness.
If you are lucky enough not to be on any medication or be responsible for anyone on medication, I first want to explain how those that are will have an impact on you.
Even when a doctor prescribes a medication and gives three refills, many insurance companies will not authorize a refill until you are close to the end of your current bottle. This is especially true with controlled substances. So in the wake of an event, you are likely to encounter people who either failed to plan accordingly or got caught up in the chaos and lost their meds. This can cause a ripple effect from everyone from the addict who cannot get his Methadone to the Mom who does not have medication for her child. Having a son who is Epileptic, I can tell you how stressed out my wife and I would be if during a preparedness situation my son was without his medications and had a seizure. So even if you are not on medications, you could still very likely be impacted by the desperation of those who are, or are responsible for others.
For those of you who are on medication, do you have any idea what the effect would be of going without it? The scariest thing about medication withdrawal or side effects is the broad range of symptoms they can present. Every thing from blurry vision, to unconsciousness, to death. These can make first responders and caregivers that are used to being able to "see" what is wrong feel overwhelmed. Especially when they realize that it is a medication issue and none is available.
Most of us know people who have a large box of medications and plan their day around taking them. Are these people in your life going be be weighing on your mind?
Everyone jokes about how whenever there is a threat of bad weather how everyone goes to the store for milk, bread, and toilet paper. Next time you are at Wal Mart or a larger store that has a pharmacy during one of these events, try going over to the pharmacy for a little observation. You will not die without milk, bread, and toilet paper, without medications you or a loved one may. And like everything else, the emotion that eminates from perception may be more deadly than reality. People can become desperate and overwhelmed with little justification. Something to keep in mind.
Most insurance companies will refill meds when you are 80% finished w/ the current refill. The idea is to stock pile the remaining 20% in case SHTF. Do it enough times and your good to go for quite a while.
Don't forget to use the older stock of meds first, some have amazingly short lifespans and expire fast.
Mercop: Interesting that you brought this up today. Being a bit on the older side I now find that I take 10 different prescription medicines each day (talk about the miracle of chemistry) and my wife is on 3 or 4. Few are critical if missed for a day or two (no more), but one of my wife's simply can not be toyed with. One missed dose could kill her.
Yesterday she mentioned the trouble we would have been in if we had been stuck in Europe all this time following the volcano in Iceland. She would likely not have packed more than a 10 day supply of extras, and this might not be sufficient as it looks like the air travel mess there is going to be prolonged.
Stockpiling, as you mentioned, can be very difficult both because of the way docs write the prescriptions and the way the insurance companies pay for them, and frankly---sad to say-- some pharmacies monkey and if you don't look and check carefully you find they put 60 days of medicine in a bottle and charged for 90.
My question, aimed really at the docs and pharmacists--- what in the world are we supposed to do to stockpile reasonable amounts of the most critical medicines?
Also, I think there are some limitations to how many of certain scheduled medicines you can have in your possession at any one time. Above that limit it is considered prima facia evidence of dealing. Ridiculous. Just illogical and fear driven. And this won't be changed because of our national paranoia about prescription drug abuse.
The way things seem to work around here, even with a prescription allowing multiple refills, and even with a willingness to pay, the pharmacies dole them out in 30 and 90 day supplies and won't budge.
1911PKR's suggestion is basically what we do, but we seldom are able to get far enough ahead of the game on the most critical medicines. Even a short term distribution disruption or un-predictable shortage lasting more than a very brief and limited time could literally kill one of us.
Sorry to hear about your son's epilepsy, and knowing that issue, I can see exactly how everyone is afraid to prescribe/fill extra amounts of the various anti-seizure meds because they are capable of being abused. Yet here you are, only worried about keeping an adequate supply in house but you pay the price for our societal raw fear.
Veering off topic a tad, this is one reason I have a fairly libertarian attitude about pills, and believe that people should mostly (relatively few exceptions) be able to walk into a pharmacy and buy anything ---and if they are fools and idiots and do so without seeking professional advice, that's their problem. More practically, I think pharmacists should have a great deal more authority to give advice and fill or not at their own discretion--provided that the client has had at least one prescription for the medicine at some point in the past 3 years. Both moves would cut the money tree out from under the docs, reduce our 16% + annual expenditure on medical care dramatically, and return ultimate responsibility to the person who makes the purchase and swallows the meds.
Sorry for going off on a rant, but I've made three trips to docs in the last 4 months just to be able to refill meds I've been taking for many years, and it stinks that Medicare has to pay for those useless visits, or that I had to bother, or that the doc had to make time instead of paying more attention to some other patient.
And, I made one trip to the doc to confirm that a new problem I was having was indeed what I thought it was, and give me the two prescriptions I knew I needed before I walked in the door. I should have been able to just go to the pharmacy and buy what I already knew I needed.
I'm not real sympathetic to those who want to prevent me from making a mistake and possibly harming myself. I'm a big boy.
An interesting fact about most prescription drug expiration dates.
The expiration date is the date that the medication is guaranteed by the drug manufacturer to to be full strength if it has been stored under the manufacturer specified conditions.
AKA - Usually A Cool Dry Place.
The expiration date does not mean that the medication is not any good if used AFTER that date.
It only means that there is a possibility that it may not be as effective as if used before the expiration date.
Many prescription meds will still be OK long after the expiration date if the storage conditions are ideal. AKA Cool, Dark, & Dry.
BTW: The bathroom medicine chest is probably the worst place in the house to keep meds due to the constant humidity.
I recently got on a "post apocalyptic" kick and have read several books in this genre. One of the last ones I read was "One Second After". One of the hardships that this book addresses more than others is the medication issue and what happens to the med dependent people (like diabetics) if they don't get their meds.
It gives you something to think about in SHTF situation planning be it short or long term.
One thing to remember is that the main limiting factor in how many days worth of a medication you can get at one time is the insurance industry. If you choose to buy your medications with your own money you can pretty much get as many as your doctor will write for at a time. Talk with them about more pills per presciption. It often doesn't matter to them. There are federal limits on some controlled substances but not the majority of medications.
It is extremely difficult to stockpile critical meds for a SHTF scenario due to the flaws in our present prescription system. I have no answer, maybe the docs and pharmacists who frequent here can make suggestions, but I think our national fear of certain drugs and our unwillingness to let people make some of their own choices about health management are clearly getting in the way.
Originally Posted by CopperKnight
The problem, as Mercop noted, is far more pernicious than a concern about SHTF scenarios. Those dependent on meds for survival are constantly at risk. Or are constantly spending money that need not be spent on unneeded medical visits.
There was about 5 years after my son's graduation during which he either had no health insurance or had very high deductibles. There are a couple of meds he uses regularly and has used regularly since he was a toddler. Yet, he had to shell out a couple of hundred dollars once each year to see a doc to get prescriptions for what he already knew he needed. Not that we are talking about anything addicting, or that would cause dependence, or that altered behavior. In fact, you can walk into a pharmacy and find a very poor substitute for one of the two he needed sold OTC. And this OTC substitute should have been taken off the market decades ago because it is dangerous compared to the prescription version, but was grandfathered. Nothing rational about what we do in this area.
Sorry for the rant and any diversion from what Mercop was concerned with. I share his concern and pain. And I think 10s of millions do as well.
In theory perhaps this works. In reality where I am, the pharmacists seem to second guess what the docs have prescribed and won't fill if they think something is too much. I've run into that one time with a very common prescription med for blood pressure. The doc upped my dose and the pharmacist refused to fill the prescription. It took several days and a phone call from the doc to the pharmacist to sort it all out.
Originally Posted by Spoonee
I recently updated the contract I have for medical supplies, and while reading it over, noticed a section devoted to supplying during local and national emergencies.
It said that all I had to do was let them know about the emergency 10 days in advance, and they would be glad to send out a weeks supply second day delivery.
I laughed when I saw that. It's so incredibly absurd.
I found a loophole in the system several years ago and have a months supply stashed that I rotate when each months shipment arrives. There's also a "plan b" that's not ideal but might keep me around a little longer in case the emergency lasts more than a month, or I'm somehow separated from my supplies.
I learned long ago that the only one that's going to watch out for my welfare is me.
I am not a pharmacist, so take this for what it is worth. Be very careful using "expired" meds. Depending on the type of medication, some pills actually become stronger when they expire. The more they are out of date, the stronger they become, so it is possible to overdose on expired meds, even if you take the prescribed amount of pills.
Originally Posted by QKShooter
Having said that, I am guilty of doing that exact same thing. :twak:
Talk to your doctor! Two things he can do is one, tell him you're trying to cover your bases for an emergency and he may be able to help you out with samples or a second prescription.
Second, ask him what is the MINIMUM amount of medication needed if you had to cut back due to an emergency event. Some meds can be reduced for a term without major complications and you could get by with half or quarter doses. Your doctor may be able to tell you what trade offs you can make to help in this. Things like restricting diet, work load, etc.
Great post; I hadn't really considered the medication issue since my immediate family doesn't have any medication dependency right now. I suppose that the laws could be circumvented for a bug-out bag in these parts by means of a trip across the border here. I know a LOT of people who get their medications in Mexico because (a) it's cheaper for them, and (b) it's easier. So if you know exactly what you need, and you're in the southwest, that might be one potential option.
"I am not a pharmacist, so take this for what it is worth. Be very careful using "expired" meds. Depending on the type of medication, some pills actually become stronger when they expire. The more they are out of date, the stronger they become, so it is possible to overdose on expired meds, even if you take the prescribed amount of pills."
Yepper, you need to do a little bit of homework & research.
The Web is a great resource.
Some will also seriously degrade into near uselessness but, many will not.
~~~> Hopefully, it's understood that comments here in this thread are directly related to a true "Life & Death" SHTF scenario when the individual may have no other realistic option than to take expired med in order to attempt to stay alive.
Very good post and interesting question.
I for one try to stockpile antibiotics