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Sadly, this may be the hardest thing to keep on hand, even though every person who takes medicine regularly should have a decent supply. This is particularly important for medicines that must be taken every day, like those for heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, or asthma. I tell my patients to get a month ahead in their stock of medicine. This can be a real problem when your insurance will only give you 30 days worth of medicine and you can't get a refill until day 26.
The first thing to try is to get your doctor to give you separate prescriptions for the medicines for emergencies. Your insurance may be willing to pay for an extra prescription if they know it is part of an emergency kit. Just make sure your pharmacy knows this is a special prescription for an emergency supply so they don't put it in your regular refill system. If this happens, you won't be able to get next month's refill and you are back to having no emergency pills.
Another possibility is that your doctor may be able to give you 30 days worth of samples. As you empty a pharmacy bottle, take the pills out of the sample boxes and put them in the bottle that has your name and dosage on it. With the less expensive medicines, it may be easier just to pay for an extra month’s worth out of your own pocket.
You need to have a month's supply in each bottle so you can rotate the medicines and they don't expire. If the emergency supply is less the amount you usually get, you can't put it in the rotation with your regular pills. And, putting a small bottle of pills in an emergency kit practically guarantees that they will be out of date when you need them.
Get a month ahead by buying your pills on the very first day you are allowed to get a refill. This is usually when you have four or five pills left from last month. Next month when you refill as early as possible, you will have eight or ten extra pills. Keep going till you have a whole extra bottle on the shelf. When you open this bottle, go get your next refill. Don't wait. If you use half of the pills in the bottle before you get your refill, the next refill will not be available for another 30 days and you have just lost half of your emergency supply. You have to work at keeping your refills on schedule and using the next bottle of medicine in order so you stay a month ahead.
Once you get used to the rotation system, it is really much better. You don't have to worry about forgetting your pills when you go to visit the grandkids. Since you have spares at home, there is time for your daughter to mail the forgotten pills back to you. And, you don't have to worry about forgetting to pick up your next refill and going the weekend without your medicine. You have a little breathing room for life's little emergencies as well as the big ones.
Pay special attention to supplies of narcotic pain pills, stress drugs like Valium or Xanax, and seizure medicines like barbiturates. In an emergency situation, you are likely to be under both physical and emotional stress, and you are going to need your medicines. These narcotic drugs are government controlled so they are hard to get except from your own doctor.