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How to Build A Stash of Pills

Tom Galli

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Today I joined a discussion about how to ensure having life sustaining pills on hand to get one through a travel period. There are ways for getting a supplemental prescription in advance of a trip, but these involve a discussion with a physician, perhaps a pharmacy, and most certainly an insurance carrier who pays for the medicine. Might there be a simple way? Why yes, indeed! Here is how to build your own private stash of pill-form chemotherapy and other sustaining medication.

Most pharmacies and insurance companies will process a refill within 5 days of the date of zero balance on your prescriptions. Order your refills as early as your pharmacy and insurance carrier allows. When you receive your new monthly supply, start taking drugs from the new bottle. Retain the old bottle (now called your "stash" bottle) which might contain 4 to 5 unused pills. Feed the stash bottle with unused pills after each renewal. In 6 refills, you'll have a months worth of stashed medication. This becomes your travel supply. More important, it becomes your disaster supply to ensure you don't run out while recovering from a tornado, hurricane, power failure and the like.

While we are on the topic of pills, my GP and med onc decided that a severe chest illness could be a very dangerous medical situation for me while traveling in an exotic local (try obtaining antibiotic medication in Egypt). So, my GP wrote a prescription for a month's worth of Levaquin to take on trips. My instructions were to start taking this medication when symptoms presented while searching for a competent doctor. As lung cancer survivors, we all hold a higher risk of bacterial lung infections morphing into something threatening, so an antibiotic stash is likely a good idea.

Off course, all you-all do have a list of your prescription medication and lung cancer treatments on your Medical ID screen of your cell phone, right!

OBTW--If you choose treatment for lung cancer, then you are choosing to live. Trips to somewhere enhance the qualify of one's life. Go somewhere; do something!

Stay the course.


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Mmm...Thanks Tom, I hadn't thought of getting any pills backed up like this.  But good advice.  It also made me wonder, (because I take so few meds now) if I should consider adding prescription coverage to my Medicare Supplemental plan.  I read about the cost of chemo drugs and between my wife's monthly memory care cost and normal living, it could be a wise decision.  I'll do some research and then see what is actually covered.  Again thanks, you got my thoughts going in a good direction.


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Lou, the annual Medicare enrollment period is over (ended Dec. 7). What you can do is compare Part D plans on Medicare.gov. You can enter all your current drugs and compare prices. But it's best to call the plan you're considering before you enroll. Keep in mind that for 2023 formularies can change. 

As a personal example, the cost of Tagrisso is partially covered under most Part D plans as a Tier 5 drug, meaning that there is a fairly high copay. I've been fortunate to qualify for financial assistance from the manufacturer. But in any case, shouldering the full cost of this drug would be insanely expensive. 

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