Managing Medications

Managing your medications and refills is your responsibility and may be a new experience. Whether you come to Queen’s with an existing prescription, or are seeking a prescription for a new medication, we can help ensure you are able to access the medication you need to keep you well.

You should bring at least a 3-month supply of existing prescriptions with you, if possible. Additionally, ask the healthcare provider who prescribed your medications to provide enough refills to last the entire semester or school year to ensure you do not run out of medication. If you are coming to Queen’s from out of province, see “Out of Province Students” section below.

It can take up to 3-6 weeks to get a physician appointment. If you have not brought enough medication or refills with you to Queen’s, call to book an appointment 6 weeks before you will run out.

When a healthcare provider prescribes a medication to you, a prescription is sent to the pharmacy of your choice. The prescription contains information about the medication and dose, how to take it, and for how long.

Depending on the medication, you may get “refills”, meaning that when you run out of the medication, you can return to the pharmacy to get more. The maximum number of refills is usually within 12 months. When you run out of refills, you will have to return to a healthcare provider who prescribed them if you need to continue taking the medication.

For chronic or ongoing health issues where you have taken medication in the past, it is best to return to the original healthcare provider who prescribed it when possible since they know your health history the best.

If you are experiencing a new health issue, believe that you need a new prescription or are seeking access to a new medication (such a birth control), book an appointment.

If you are almost out of medication and have no more refills available, you have a few options:

  • Call the healthcare provider who prescribed the medication well before it is finished.
  • Go to a pharmacy to access an emergency refill or “bridge” if you will finish it in the next few days. The pharmacist will need a copy of the prescription, pill bottle and verbal confirmation from the original dispensing pharmacy. This may not be possible for some medications, such as controlled substances. When obtaining a bridge, you should also book an appointment with your prescriber so that you can obtain a longer-term prescription.

Speak with a healthcare provider, ideally the one who prescribed it, about changing doses or stopping the medication. When picking up your prescription, pharmacists can let you know what to expect when starting a new medication, such as expected side effects and potential for adverse effects.

If you lose your medication and have refills stored with a pharmacy, in most cases you can call them to refill the medication for you. If your pharmacy is out of town, call a local pharmacy to have it transferred for easier pick up.

If you are travelling or leaving Kingston, plan to bring enough medication with you. Some drug companies will prevent you from filling your prescription too early, so check with your pharmacist before your trip. If you expect to run out of your medication on a trip, bring a paper copy of the prescription or have the pharmacist in the area you are visiting call the pharmacy to have it transferred.

“Filling” a prescription means having a pharmacist prepare it for you at the pharmacy. Make sure you bring your supplementary insurance information and a copy of the prescription if applicable. It can take some time to have the medication prepared (e.g., 30-60 minutes), so call ahead to have it ready when you arrive.

When preparing your medication, pharmacists will check to make sure the correct medication and dose is prepared and review any potential interactions if you take other medications. If this is the first time you are taking the medication, the pharmacist will review how to take it, and any special considerations (e.g., avoiding alcohol while taking it) plus answer any questions.

There are a few different ways you can pay for medications:

As a student you have supplementary health benefits through Studentcare (unless you have opted out), or another private health insurance provider that will cover all or some of the cost. Most pharmacies have a “dispensing fee” which is not always covered by your insurance plan. You can ask the pharmacist how much you should expect to pay out of pocket for the medication.

People under age 24 with Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) who do not have a supplementary health insurance plan, may be able to obtain medication at no cost through the OHIP+ program. Ask the pharmacist about whether the medication you need is covered through this program.

If you do not have access to either option, or if the medication is not covered by insurance, you will have to pay for it when you pick it up at the pharmacy.

If your medication has been prescribed from a healthcare provider outside of Ontario, you should be able to have your prescription transferred to a pharmacy of choice in Ontario.

Prior to leaving home, ask your healthcare provider to prescribe enough medication to last the semester or school year. Take this prescription to the pharmacy in your hometown to have them put it on your file.

When you arrive at Queen’s and decide on what pharmacy you would like to use, you can ask them to call the pharmacy in your hometown and have your prescription transferred to Ontario. This process is not possible with controlled substances such as narcotic medications.

  • DrugSmart Pharmacy 284 Earl Street (in the Queen’s Centre, next to the Athletics & Recreation Centre (ARC))
  • Shopper Drug Mart 445 Princess Street (Princess and Division)
  • Shoppers Drug Mart 136 Princess Street (Princess and Bagot)

Following your appointment, your prescription will be faxed to the pharmacy of your choice. This may take 1-2 hours to be received and processed by the pharmacy. If it has been several hours since your appointment and the pharmacy has not received the prescription, call your healthcare provider.

If you need your medication right after your appointment, you can ask for a printed copy at your appointment to bring to the pharmacy.