Today, I dealt with several transfers from other pharmacies. There were more than most days, and the common factor seemed to be confusion as to why it would take longer than 15 minutes to fill their prescriptions. Try as I may to explain why, there were just some people who didn’t understand and, therefore, were annoyed and irritated. So, here’s a step-by-step list of what has to happen in order to transfer refills from one pharmacy to another. This list does not include transferring within a chain (ex. transferring a prescription from one Walgreens to another). That process is less cumbersome.

For ease of explaining, Pharmacy A will be the pharmacy you last had the script filled at, and Pharmacy B will be the pharmacy you want the prescription to be filled at now.

Step 1

The pharmacist on duty at Pharmacy B must gather as much information about the prescription(s) you need as they can. When people have their bottle(s) from Pharmacy A with them, it’s a blessing. The more information the pharmacist has before continuing past this step, the faster the transfer will be made.

Step 2

The pharmacist at Pharmacy A must be called by the pharmacist at Pharmacy B. This can only be done by pharmacists and, in some places, pharmacy interns (those studying to be pharmacists).  Therefore, both the pharmacists at Pharmacy A and B must be available for a few minutes per prescription. Depending on the workflow at either store, it can take a bit before the pharmacist from Pharmacy B can make the call and the pharmacist from Pharmacy A can answer the call. I once sat on hold with a mail order pharmacy for 20 minutes before I got a hold of someone.

Step 3

The following information must be documented on prescription pads by the pharmacist at Pharmacy B:

  • drug name
  • drug strength
  • medication quantity
  • directions
  • number of refills remaining
  • prescription number from Pharmacy A
  • date the prescription was written by the prescriber
  • date the prescription was first filled
  • date the prescription was most recently filled
  • the prescriber’s name and credentials
  • Pharmacy A’s address and other information
  • the name of the pharmacist at Pharmacy A

The pharmacist at Pharmacy B must then share his/her name and Pharmacy B’s information with Pharmacy A.  Pharmacy A must document this in their system before continuing. This must be done individually foreach prescription that is transferred. This is why it takes a few minutes per prescription.

Step 4

Pharmacy A inactivates the prescription(s) in their computer, and Pharmacy B fills the prescription(s). That’s where the regular filling process kicks in. See the steps in my entry entitled “Narcs” to see what that entails.

Some important things to know about transfers:

  • Narcotic prescriptions cannot be transferred.
  • Some places do not allow for controlled medications of any kind to be transferred, even if they have refills.
  • Prescriptions can only be transferred if the prescription has refills and is not expired.
  • If you are transferring from a mail order service to a retail pharmacy, you may not be able to get the same amount of medication in the store as you do through the mail. A lot of insurance companies (in the US) allow for 90 days’ worth by mail but only 30 days in the pharmacy.
  • The prescription cannot be transferred if the pharmacy it was originally from is closed.

So, that’s my spiel for today. Hopefully, this entry wasn’t too confusing. Hope your days are all going great! =)


Image courtesy of


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s