Facebook and Twitter

and follow my blog on Twitter @pharmacynic to receive notifications on new posts.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Expiration Dates

Why is the most difficult explanation we have the one about expiring refills?
(For ease of explanation, we shall use a conversation from the holiday.)

Typical Patient: I'd like to have this prescription refilled?
CP: That's a question. Do you have the bottle handy with the number on it?
TP: Yes. It's right here in my hand. (Not so typical, but necessary for today's lesson.)
CP: What is it?
TP: 8675309
CP: I'm sorry. It appears these refills have expired.
TP: What? It says on my bottle 6 refills.
CP: I'm sure it does. What's the rest of it say?
TP: Rest of what?
CP: It says "6 refills UNTIL...???"
TP: <softly, under breath> "6 refills until 7/4/2013.
CP: Correct. It means they expired yesterday, on the Holiday.
TP: I thought it meant I could still fill it today?
CP: No. "Until" means up to but not including that date.
TP: I don't get it.
CP: Okay, let's try this. You know how, from November 1st until December 24th, you are bombarded with "XX Shopping Days UNTIL Christmas"? It means you have only so many days UNTIL Christmas. On Christmas Day, you can no longer shop BEFORE the Holiday; it is, in fact, the actual Holiday. Same with the refills. "Until 7/4/13 means up to that date, say 7/3/13. On the Actual 4th of July, it is too late. You with me?
TP: I understand the Christmas thing. I always do my shopping early. But this refill thing escapes me.
CP: How about you do your refill thing early too?
TP: I don't get it. My doctor said I'd be on these forever.
CP: Yes. And Christmas will come around, forever. However, just like you still have to shop if your family is going to receive lovely gifts from you, you still have to "shop", aka "call in your refills", if you are going to get medication. Enjoy the fireworks going off in your skull right now. I was supposed to leave 20 minutes ago. We are closed. Happy 4th!


  1. Last week a woman handed me 2 vials for a refill. Same medication and dose. The one that was marked NO REFILLS was from last month. The other vial had some tablets in it. It was from 4 months ago. I checked her profile. Yup. No refills.

    I tell her the facts. She said " but I put the pills from that bottle into the one that says I have refills!"

    Yes it is true. Magic Prescription Vial.

  2. This type of thing turns especially angry when it involves VIAGRA and there's a big weekend coming up. I have had the exact same thing happen except I wasn't smart enough to use the Christmas holiday example and the patient was yelling.