How to get your doctor to help you stockpile medicine – Update

Since this information was originally published on in 2010, Obamacare has brought BIG changes to the health care system.

None of these changes have made it any easier to stockpile medicines – in fact, quite the reverse is true.

Though I have advised seeking out a private solo practice physician, you may not be able to find one.  At least in my hometown, the small-time doctor is being run out of business by corporate medicine.  My own practice was a casualty.  (I am currently doing private medical research instead.)  In larger practices, there’s always someone looking over the doctor’s shoulder, and freedom to prescribe is increasingly restricted. If you haven’t found such a doctor yet, I suggest you hurry.

While you’re looking, find an old-fashioned doctor who isn’t using an electronic health record (EHR).  An EHR is intended to record every prescription for every reason from every provider, and to make this information available to every doctor or hospital you may happen to visit.  There’s no flying under the radar with an EHR…not that you have anything to hide.  Though the HIPAA laws are allegedly intended to maintain your privacy, a second goal is to make your protected health information more easily shared with other health professionals.  While this is often beneficial, perhaps you value your privacy more.  And it’s not just your records that are been overseen; doctors using an EHR are being graded on their use of the system.  Consider seeking out a doctor who is still using paper records…likely someone getting on in years.

The essence of this article remains highly relevant, with essential tips for getting your doctor to help you stockpile medicine.


Copyright ©2010 Cynthia J. Koelker, MD

Picture this: 

Your doctor enters the room and asks, “How can I help you today?”

“I’d like enough medicine to survive the end of the world as we know it,” you reply.

He narrows his eyes and responds, “Just how much Prozac would you need?”

* * *

Finding a physician to help you stockpile medications will be a challenge.  Unless your doctor, too, believes Armageddon is nigh, he’s not likely to grant your request.

Why not?  Doctors are responsible for the medications we prescribe and the consequences, intended or unintended.  Remember, every medication is a potential poison.  You’re probably glad your own physician has sufficient training to possess a valid medical license.  Certain problems (and medications) require periodic monitoring regarding their effects on the human body.  No doctor wants to be responsible for patients who won’t comply with essential examination and testing.  Would a car-maker warranty your automobile engine if you refuse to change the oil?

Typically, doctors prescribe enough medication to cover a specific problem for an appropriate length of time.  Antibiotics are usually dispensed for 7 to 10 days, blood pressure medicines for 1 to 6 months, diabetic medicines for 1 to 3 months, pain relievers until the underlying problem has resolved.

Does your doctor prescribe you extra amoxicillin, just in case you get sick later this year?  Not likely.  When physicians prescribe more medication than is currently necessary, this often amounts to patients playing doctor with themselves or with others.  Under our current system, this can be a felony.

Of course, at TEOTWAWKI, people won’t be playing doctor.  For many survivors, they will be their own doctor, like it or not.  And to do so, you will need a stockpile of medications.

Before I offer advice on how to get your doctor to help you with this stockpile, please realize that there are other obstacles to the acquisition of said drugs.  Pharmacists have the right to refuse to fill a prescription that seems unreasonable or potentially harmful.  Insurance companies usually limit payments for prescriptions to a 1 to 3 month period at a time.  You’ll have to pay out of your own pocket to get more medicine than this.  Doctors cannot legally alter their prescriptions to say you are taking more medication than you actually are.  Neither would it be ethical for you to lie about the situation.

So, how to get the medicine that you may need?

One option is to convince your doctor that the end of the world is near.  That’ll be tough.  But think a moment, if your doctor really did think TEOTWAWTI is around the corner, he’d be doing his best to help you prepare.

Doctors do prescribe extra medication, along with directions for use, under special circumstances:  antibiotics for potential traveler’s diarrhea, anti-malarials for travel to Africa, six months of medications if you’ll be wintering in Antarctica.  Asking for medications for TEOTWAWKI is akin to doing the same for a trip around the world.  The way I see it, such a supply would be intended to span a gap of only a year or two only.  Some medications probably do have a shelf-life of a decade beyond their expiration date, but hopefully a better solution would be available long before then.

Convincing your doctor to prescribe extra medication depends largely on the doctor-patient relationship.  If your doctor trusts you, he or she is much more likely to assist you.  Please realize that your doctor will think that he’s doing you a fairly large favor.  He may even question the legality of his own prescribing.  Don’t forget to be grateful.  Also realize that even if a doctor writes more than a year’s worth of refills, pharmacists cannot fill them beyond a year of the original prescribing date.  If you are convinced that you need more than a 12-month supply stockpiled, you’ll need to discuss this openly with your doctor.  Obviously a person could visit more than one doctor, which I don’t recommend, especially if you don’t tell each and every one of your physicians what you are doing.  Dishonesty is a deal-breaker when it comes to getting your doctor to trust you.

In general, medications are prescribed for either acute problems or chronic problems.  Acute problems include most infections and injuries.  Chronic problems include asthma, diabetes, heart disease, hypothyroidism, mental illness, arthritis, and a host of others.  Treatment of chronic conditions also includes modification of risk factors including high cholesterol and high blood pressure.  Even antibiotics are sometimes prescribed long-term in certain situations, e.g. acne, rosacea, certain forms of colitis, and recurrent urinary infections.

Medications for acute problems include antibiotics, anti-virals, anti-malarials, antifungals, anti-diarrheals, antiemetics, migraine treatments, pain medications, heartburn relief, albuterol for asthma and COPD, nitroglycerin, corticosteroids, and anti-inflammatories, to name the most common.

Drugs for chronic problems and conditions include birth control pills, antidepressants, allergy medications, inhalers for asthma and COPD, anti-anginal drugs, acid-reducing drugs (proton pump inhibitors, histamine-2 blockers), anti-inflammatories, diabetic meds, thyroid replacement, and many others.

Without specifying which of these meds I’d advise for stockpiling, I’ll tell you exactly how I’d like a patient to approach me to acquire an extra supply, an approach which I believe would work for other doctors as well.

First, begin establishing a trusting relationship with your doctor.  If you don’t think your physician even knows who you are, make an appointment for a minor problem.  DON’T ask about stockpiling at this initial visit.

If your doctor asks you to follow-up for this problem, then do so.  Follow directions.  Be responsible.  If he says no follow-up is needed, no doubt you can find another reason to come in within a month or so.  Accompany another family member to their appointment to keep your face fresh in your doctor’s memory.  If there are multiple providers in your physician’s office, try to see the same one each time to establish a relationship.

By the third time your doctor has seen you within a time frame of a few months, he’s going to start knowing you, and more importantly, trusting you.  You must act in a trustworthy manner by:

  • showing up for your appointments
  • not cancelling appointments with insufficient warning
  • arriving on time (even if you must wait on the doctor)
  • taking your medications properly and knowing their correct names and dosing
  • trying to do your part in every way
  • being kind, pleasant, polite, and cheerful.

Of course, this is good advice even if TEOTWAWKI does not occur in our lifetime.

After doing the above, it’s time to consider approaching the topic of TEOTWAWKI.

Say you have diabetes and want to be prepared.  If you ask for a year’s prescription, your doctor may figure you won’t show up again, even though you’ve demonstrated responsibility to date.  Ask for an extra three months instead and make 100% sure that you show up for your next scheduled visit.  If you don’t, your doctor will decide he cannot trust you.  As in every relationship, once trust is broken, it takes much, much longer to reestablish.

Assuming you do keep your  scheduled follow-up, remind the doctor that you have put back the extra medication, and that you’d like to have an additional three month’s worth.  Reassure him that you will again follow-up whenever he’d like you to return.  (And especially for diabetics, do what your doctor suggests regarding blood sugar testing, weight loss, etc. – at the very least, try.)  In this fashion by establishing and confirming trust, you can build up an adequate stockpile.  If your relationship is strong, he may trust you to get even a year’s worth ahead of time.  The same protocol would apply equally well to any of the chronic diseases mentioned above.  And if you suffer from any of these, educating yourself is an excellent idea.  Learn how to take care of yourself now so you’ll be ready later.

For acute problems, such as bacterial infections, you’ll want a supply of antibiotics on hand.  Follow the above directions in establishing a trusting relationship.  Then either when you are sick (or when you are not) ask for a supply of one appropriate antibiotic, perhaps a 30-day supply.  Reassure your doctor that you will not use this medication as long as he is here to take care of you.  If you get sick again, go back to your doctor and remind him of your plan.  If he suggests antibiotics, request a new prescription, and perhaps another supply to stockpile.  Trust, trust, trust.  That’s 99% of the equation.

With 2012 just around the corner, you should start now.  None of us knows God’s timeline, but waiting until the last minute is ill-advised.

* * *

Dr. Schreiber of San Augustine giving a typhoi...

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What do Armageddon and health reform have in common?  Either way, people need to know how to care of themselves with the resources at hand.  Written by family physician Cynthia J. Koelker, MD, 101 Ways to Save Money on Health Care explains how to treat over 30 common medical conditions economically, and includes dozens of sections on treating yourself.

Available for under $10 online, the book offers practical advice on treating: respiratory infections, pink eye, sore throats, nausea, diarrhea, heartburn, urinary infections, allergies, arthritis, acne, hemorrhoids, dermatitis, skin infection, lacerations, lice, carpal tunnel syndrome, warts, mental illness, asthma, COPD, depression, diabetes, enlarged prostate, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and much more.

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About Cynthia J. Koelker, MD

CYNTHIA J KOELKER , MD is a board-certified family physician with over twenty years of clinical experience. A member of American Mensa, Dr. Koelker holds degrees in biology, humanities, medicine, and music from M.I.T., Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, and the University of Akron. She served in the National Health Service Corps to finance her medical education.
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6 Responses to How to get your doctor to help you stockpile medicine – Update

  1. Irish-7 says:

    I appreciate your input. I have an excellent relationship with my physician. I also have an active regimen, stretching, traction, massage therapy & anti-inflammatory meds, too. Half of my problems could probably be surgically repaired, half cannot. I have been reluctant to have the operation(s) in that my wife is also disabled and I am fearful of the negative impact on my family if I am sidelined for too long. Thanks again!

  2. Irish-7 says:

    First, I must say that my doctor is great! His care enabled me to stay 8 more years in the military, increasing my pension from 50 to 70%. I suffer from spinal injuries resulting from parachute landings years ago. I take strong pain medications every day. I will have limited ability to get around without my meds. TEOTWAWKI presents tough challenges. To folks in a similar situation, I suggest: “tough it out” a bit by stretching the dose from 4 to 6 hours. Take a nap when time allows. You won’t bank what you need, but a little is better than none. Survival is mainly mental, so you don’t want to enter any bad situation holding an initial bleak attitude. Suspicion of abuse will prevent most doctors & pharmacies from issuing narcotics in quantity, so you need to really stretch your current RX to put anything aside for survival planning. Unfair to the handicapped, but reality for the survivalist.

    • Doc Cindy says:

      From a doctor’s point of view, the best way to obtain extra controlled drugs is to cultivate a deeply trusting relationship with your physician. Also, ask about alternatives for pain control. Narcotics are rarely the entire answer.

      Good points, Irish-7. Thanks for writing.

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  4. JeanneS says:

    With mail-order pharmacies, your doctor may be more likely to write a long-term prescription (such as a year’s worth of refills). I have migraines, and I asked my doctor to write a prescription for the largest number of pills that my health insurance would pay for (which is only 9 pills a month), then used a mail-order pharmacy that automatically refills & mails my prescription every 3 months. This way, I’m building a stockpile slowly but surely, because I never have so many migraines that I would use the maximum number of pills each month. (And if I did have that many migraines, I would get looked at immediately!)

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