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Prescription rules have been eased so Irma evacuees can get their medications

Keith Cotner, of Brooksville, left, and Chetan Shah, of Palm Harbor, owner of Anclote Pharmacy, center, work together to fill prescriptions at the pharmacy in Tarpon Springs. Pharmacies are filling emergency prescriptions for residents in Florida before Hurricane Irma. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times]

Keith Cotner, of Brooksville, left, and Chetan Shah, of Palm Harbor, owner of Anclote Pharmacy, center, work together to fill prescriptions at the pharmacy in Tarpon Springs. Pharmacies are filling emergency prescriptions for residents in Florida before Hurricane Irma. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times]

Florida residents who are considering evacuating the state before Hurricane Irma are advised to check in with their local pharmacies as soon as possible to receive medication refills that can last through the duration of the Category 5 storm and its aftermath.

The state Office of Insurance Regulation issued a notice to health care providers that they must waive time restrictions on prescription refills after Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in Florida on Wednesday.

Insurance provider Florida Blue is allowing members in Florida to get temporary 30-day emergency supplies of medication from in-network pharmacies, which include those out of state, from Sept. 5-19. Members who choose an out-of-network pharmacy may not be able to fill their prescriptions early, according to a press release. Most third-party plans are allowing for expedited 30-day refills as well.

Florida Blue encourages patients to take their medication as prescribed during and after the storm. Residents should also keep a list of all their medications and dosages with other important documents in a safe and dry location.

RELATED COVERAGE: Impact on Tampa Bay depends on when Irma turns right

Publix is processing a record number of prescriptions in Florida this week in anticipation of Hurricane Irma, said Brian West, a spokesman for the Lakeland-based grocer. Publix pharmacy customers can have a prescription refilled at any Publix location, he said.

CVS is allowing pharmacists to provide one-time emergency refills on 10-day supplies of medication for CVS Caremark and CVS Health plan members in areas impacted by Hurricane Irma. In addition, CVS is making automated calls and using its mobile app to remind patients who live in Florida to place refill orders as soon as possible.

Walgreens and Winn-Dixie are also providing emergency refills on maintenance medications that are non-controlled substances. If Winn-Dixie customers are evacuating the state, they can also refill prescriptions at pharmacies in other Southeastern Grocers chain stores, like Bi-Lo, which has grocery stores in the Carolinas and Harveys Supermarket, which has stores in Georgia. With more than 8,200 locations nationwide, Walgreens customers can call or use the pharmacy's mobile app to refill prescriptions at any location in the country.

If a Walgreens store is forced to close because of the hurricane, customers can find updates on when stores will reopen at and on the mobile app.

RELATED COVERAGE: How to use the internet during a hurricane when the internet is down

At Walmart and Sam's Club, customers can refill prescriptions online or in stores.

"Prescriptions are an important part of being prepared for an evacuation. Our pharmacies are dedicated to providing prescriptions and immunizations to customers in all areas of Florida during this emergency," said Regan Dickens, a spokesman for Walmart. "We are working with our supplies to help stay in stock, and our pharmacies will remain open as long as conditions remain safe for our customers and associates."

Contact Justine Griffin at or (727) 893-8467. Follow @SunBizGriffin.

Tips to remember for prescription medication:

• Follow evacuation orders first. Get to a safe location before you refill your medications at the nearest pharmacy. This allows you to avoid potentially long lines at your local pharmacy, and you won't needlessly delay your evacuation. Most chain pharmacies can access patient information from any location.

• With a state of emergency declared in all 67 counties in Florida, pharmacists in the state can refill medications up to a 30-day supply without requiring a prescriber's refill authorization for any non-controlled substance.

• Take a waterproof bag with your current medication, even if the bottle is empty. The information on the prescription label will help pharmacy staff with refill requests. Heat, humidity and sunlight can degrade the effectiveness of medicine, so try to protect it from extreme weather conditions.

• Keep a written record of your current prescriptions in your valuable papers files. If you are taking several prescription drugs, it's an especially good idea to keep a record of your current dosage and doctor's contact information. Walgreens patients can register online at and print out this information directly from their patient profile.

Source: Walgreens

Prescription rules have been eased so Irma evacuees can get their medications 09/07/17 [Last modified: Thursday, September 7, 2017 4:47pm]
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