Coronavirus: Don’t Run Out of Medications

Any medication you take for a chronic health condition should not be interrupted, if at all possible. Keep a list of all your medications in an easily accessible place, and make sure a family member or friend knows where it is.

It's important to keep medications you use on hand.

COVID-19 may create a situation where you may not be able to leave your house for a few weeks. Make sure you check the medications you take on a daily basis and make sure you have enough for at least two weeks longer than usual.

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Take the time now to check the medications you take on a regular basis and make sure you have enough for at least two weeks longer than usual. If you or someone you live with comes down with COVID-19 you may not be able to leave your home for a few weeks. If there is an outbreak in your community (meaning a large number of people suddenly get sick) you may need to stay at home even if you are not ill.

The novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, has upended normal life for most Americans. The extraordinary measures being taken now by the government are meant to slow down transmission of this new virus. If we act and adhere to recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most people will not be infected and become sick. In order to keep the numbers as low as possible and to protect those most vulnerable to serious health consequences and death from the virus, it’s important to take precautions.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), older adults and people with underlying health conditions appear to be the most at risk for serious health problems with the virus. The CDC has a wealth of information on their website (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html). In addition to avoiding unnecessary contact with other people, washing your hands often, and cleaning frequently touched surfaces every few hours, the CDC also advises keeping a two-week supply of medications, food and other essentials on hand.

Any medication you take for a chronic health condition should not be interrupted if at all possible. For many health conditions, including inflammatory forms of arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis, stopping the drugs your doctor has prescribed or taking them less frequently can lead to a flare-up of symptoms.

If you are running out of medications that you take regularly, contact your doctor or pharmacist about getting more. Questions to ask your doctor include:

  • Can I get a prescription for a longer period of time, for example, three months? This often will depend on your insurance plan.
  • Are some medications more critical than others? Certain medications you take may be more essential than others. For example, it’s more critical to not interrupt a blood pressure medication than a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID).

Some pharmacies will deliver medications. If not, you can ask a young, healthy person to pick up your medications. Some pharmacies have a drive-through option. If you cannot get medications from the pharmacy, consider getting them from a mail-order pharmacy. This usually takes several weeks, however.

If you are low on medications, you may be tempted to borrow some from someone else. This is not recommended. Even if the person takes the same medication, it may be a different dose. Errors can occur.

Keep a list of all your medications in an easily accessible place, and make sure a family member or friend knows where it is. Make sure you have contact information for your doctor and pharmacist, as well as local and state public health departments. In case you are unable to reach your doctor or pharmacist or medication supplies are not available, local or state health officials should be able to help you.

Chad Deal, MD, Head of the Center for Osteoporosis and Metabolic Bone Disease at Cleveland Clinic, and Associate Editor of Arthritis Advisor, contributed to this report

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Lynne Christensen

Lynne Christensen is executive editor of the Cleveland Clinic Arthritis Advisor newsletter. After completing her undergraduate degree from New York University, Christensen earned a master’s degree in biological studies from … Read More

View all posts by Lynne Christensen

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