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March 2, 2007 12:03 AM

Broken: Pharmacy refill label

PharmbottlePaul Morgan points out:

What does "3.6 refills" mean? I can understand 1 or 2 refills, or maybe even 1.5 (for half a month's supply or something like that)... but 3.6??



Posted by: smb1985 at March 2, 2007 12:27 AM

Well, if the Quantity of one refill is 30 tablets, then 0.6 refills would be 18 tablets, not an unusual number at all. Basic math, people.

Posted by: klew at March 2, 2007 01:28 AM

To expand on klew's comments: Suppose a doctor writes a prescription for 1 pill per day, for 24 weeks. The prescription would be for 168 pills.

The patient goes to the pharmacy, but their insurance will only let them get a 30-day supply at one time. This is a common arrangement, so that the insurance company can collect the insurance co-pay each month.

30 pills are dispensed, and the "balance" is 138 pills. 138/30 = 4.6. They go back the next month, get another 30 pills, and the balance is 108/30 = 3.6, as shown in the picture. Seems reasonable to me.

Posted by: mph at March 2, 2007 08:01 AM

hooray for math!!

Posted by: Memnon at March 2, 2007 01:39 PM

Submitter is broken. He/she should have asked the pharmacist rather than asking the internet.

Posted by: J H at March 2, 2007 06:25 PM

No, it's broken. If they want to tell you how many pills you have left, that's fine (and they should do that, instead of writing '3.6 refills').

However, to me and I suspect most people, a 'refill' is how many times I can go back to get more pills. Clearly, you can't actually go to the pharmacist '3.6' times.

And, anyway, if it requires this level of thinking, it's not very useful to the consumer.

Posted by: mmcwatters at March 3, 2007 06:40 PM

And, yes, "hooray for math!!" because that's clearly what a possibly sick person wants to do when trying to figure out if their prescription will be refilled or not. So much better than just saying how many pills you have left, or better yet stating accurately how many times you can go back to the pharmacist for refills.

Posted by: mmcwatters at March 3, 2007 06:45 PM

...and yet again, you deem it necessary to come after my comment... grow up... I was joking around with the fact that people are going through mathematical solutions to figure this out...

...but if you want my opinion (which I'm sure you don't, so I guess that's a good enough reason for me to give it);

3.6 refills is a perfectly valid, if a bit odd looking, way to put it. It is not saying you can go back to the drug store 3.6 times... its saying that on the last time you will not get a full refill like the others.

The idea of putting how many pills are left is an interesting one, since that would still require you to do the math to figure out how many times you are able to go get more. This is important because you may need to have some lead time to get back to the doctor and get another prescription.

Posted by: Memnon at March 4, 2007 09:44 PM

You're so easy to bait. But I'm glad my post at least got you to post a rationale behind your comment instead of just more flamebait. And, your logic in this post actually makes some sense. I wonder if there isn't a better way for them to say, as you suggest, 'you have 3.6 more containers left.' If I'm thinking of a parallel, coffee comes to mind. 3.6 refills sounds odd, but 3.6 cups left makes more sense...kind of (but what a weird coffee shop that would be).

Posted by: mmcwatters at March 5, 2007 08:20 AM

Not broken.

Had the doctor written for 90 and patient got 30 due to insurance, a full refill is considered 90, not 30.

This is better than Walgreen's method (where I work)--they just say "2+" and it confuses the hell out of patients. At least this way they COULD figure it out. Some places do put the actual remaining pill count on the packaging and it makes patients happy. Which therefore makes the workers happy because no one loves getting screamed at by someone who thinks you've shorted them on their Viagra refills...

Posted by: m at March 11, 2007 11:58 PM

So, wait...m is saying there exists a better method, one that makes customers and employees happy, is less confusing than this, and more descriptive...yet still argues this isn't broken? Hmm...

Posted by: mmcwatters at March 15, 2007 06:36 AM

The pharmacy chain I work for doesn't even bother with all the .6 or quantity of pills details and such (probably anticipating confusion)...instead it just says that you have 4 refills left...and it's up to the staff to let you know (or up to you to remember) that the last refill isn't a full one, and we can contact the MD for more refills....

That having been said. I'm not sure what's a better idea...since pharmacy customers will generally get confused at just about anything a company does.(most of them don't understand, for instance, what the message "no refills" means on their bottle...)

Posted by: SaiSei at April 1, 2007 09:48 AM

Could it mean that the doctor authorized 6 refills, of which you have 3 remaining? It's a shorthand way of saying "3 of 6" perhaps?

Posted by: sublight at May 17, 2007 07:12 AM

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