When my doctor writes me a prescription how long is it good for?
The paper prescription that your doctor gives you is valid for 1 year from the date it is written. That being said, the pharmacist can use his/her profession judgement to determine whether or not the prescription should still be used.
For example, if the doctor writes you a prescription for an anti-biotic for an ear infection and you bring it to the pharmacist 6 months later, the pharmacist may refuse to fill the prescription. This is because the antibiotic may not be appropriate for the infection you currently have. Your new condition requires the attention of a physician.
Once you bring you prescription to the pharmacy, how long do you have to fill it?
The majority of prescriptions can be refilled for up to 18 months after it is dropped off at the pharmacy (as long as there are refills). Medications in the controlled and targeted substances group can only be refilled for 1 year after the prescription is dropped off at your pharmacy.
This means that your doctor cannot give you an unlimited amount of refills. If the doctor writes you a prescription for 3 years, or puts 10 refills on the prescription, you will only be able to refill the prescription for up to 18 months (or 1 year) from the day it was brought to the pharmacy.
Why can’t prescriptions be refilled for longer than 18 months?
The laws on how long prescriptions can be filled for are for your protection. It is important to see the doctor for re-assessment to ensure the medication prescribed is still appropriate for you!