How can my son get his ADHD meds in California?
March 30, 2016 5:00 PM   Subscribe

My son is moving to San Francisco for 6 months. He needs to be able to get his ADHD meds while he is there. I'm looking for recommendations.

My son is 21 and takes Vyvanse for ADHD. He will be studying in San Francisco for 6 months. Our current doctor (in MA) can't/won't prescribe long distance. So we need a doctor who can take him on as a patient starting in May. There are a few requirements:
1. Must take Aetna
2. Must be reachable from SOMA. I am clueless about neighborhoods in SF. He will be living in SOMA and needs to use public transportation.
3. Must have flexible appointments. My son's school day is from 9-5 m-f. Someone who sees patients early, late or on weekends is what we need.

Anybody have any recommendations?
posted by Biblio to Health & Fitness (19 answers total)
Start calling to find an appointment now. Use the Aetna website.

SOMA is pretty central and widely accessible to other parts of the city.

Try to get a 1-2 month supply right before he leaves.

Bring a copy of the current doctor's notes and chart to his first appointment.

Vyvanse is highly abused and will certainly not be refilled by anyone without a long-standing history of ADHD and compliance with the medication.
posted by gramcracker at 5:21 PM on March 30, 2016

Aetna has a Find a Doctor portion of their website. It might be okay to use a primary care giver or a mental health nurse practitioner.
posted by bluedaisy at 5:23 PM on March 30, 2016

Seconding gramcracker - Vyvanse is highly abused so this may be a challenge.

I understand why your doctor doesn't want to go through the hassle of calling in an RX out of state. Some pharmacies won't take scrips from doctors in other states, others will give you a big long deal about it.

I don't get why this is an issue though. Does your son see his doctor more than every six months? I'm assuming no if he's a GP. If he's seeing a psychiatrist then maybe he is seeing the psychiatrist much more regularly, in which case your psychiatrist really should refer him to a local colleague.

Option 1: See if your aetna insurance covers prescriptions by mail (express scrips, Walgreens by Mail, etc.). Sometimes this is actually cheaper, and they generally send you 90 days at a time!

Option 2: Have the doctor send it to your local Target or CVS or Walgreens. When he leaves for San Francisco, just go to the new Target (or whatever) and they'll transfer the scrip. When your son moves back home, go to your old Target (or whatever) and they'll transfer it back. No hassle for your doctor.

Mr. Arnicae, who is forgetful about his meds and travels nearly constantly, usually transfers his prescriptions between Target pharmacies 4x a year. It usually takes about 10 minutes.
posted by arnicae at 5:56 PM on March 30, 2016

As far as I know, controlled drugs can't be called in to a pharmacy. They must be physically presented, with ID, every time. They are not available by mail. He can't get a 90 day supply.

My son currently sees our GP once a month to get his prescription. I believe the dr is prohibited from writing more than one month at a time.

I am familiar with the Aetna doc finder. It is a horrible thing and I was hoping to get recommendations from locals, especially with regards to weekend hours.
posted by Biblio at 6:03 PM on March 30, 2016 [2 favorites]

Yes, you present the rx to your local Target (or whatever chain pharmacy you choose). You can transfer schedule III, IV and V once per prescription (DEA link on the CFR that covers this). When your son is ready to come home, yes, he'll have to go see his doctor and get a new scrip. However, this is 99.9% less hassle then finding a new doctor in the Bay Area and convincing them to give your 21 year old son a Vyvance prescription.
posted by arnicae at 6:12 PM on March 30, 2016

Have him get a record from his doctor and keep his bottles. Then doctor shop until he finds someone who will prescribe it. It sucks, but as someone who travels quite a bit this is what I do. If you can get the original diagnosis it makes it easier. Physiatrist over GP is better, but if try GP first. Really shouldn't be hard if you have records of diagnosis.
posted by geoff. at 6:40 PM on March 30, 2016

The good news is that the mass transit system in San Francisco is pretty good, so getting to an appointment shouldn't pose a problem.

One Medical is a walk-in clinic, with lots of locations and flexible hours. They take Aetna HMO and PPO.

Be sure to have your son bring a copy of his chart from his current GP, that will HELP a LOT!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:11 PM on March 30, 2016

One Medical will be expensive as they require a one-time yearly fee in order to see a doctor/join, but if convenience and scheduling are the deciding factors, One Medical is likely the answer.
posted by samthemander at 7:30 PM on March 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

Does your son need to actually see his doctor every month? Perhaps it would be easier to find a more flexible doctor in MA. (e.g., I've taken Adderall forever—I call my doctor every month and she mails my prescription to me. I haven't seen her for about 3 years.)

Unless things have changed in the past few years, I'm (almost) certain that a Schedule II prescription from out of state may be filled in CA, with the original paper prescription and proper ID, of course. And maybe a call to the doctor.

A note about Vyvanse—as I understand things, of all the ADHD stimulant meds, it's the one with the least potential for abuse.
posted by she's not there at 8:10 PM on March 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

I've been in almost the exact same situation, but with Adderall. Unfortunately, that class of drug is not transferable from MA to CA. California is one of the stricter states when it comes to certain classes of controlled substances. You will need to find a doc that will prescribe for your son while he is in San Francisco. Start making those calls now because getting an appointment was a lot more challenging than I thought. I was in Los Angeles, however, so YMMV in Northern California. Get a physical copy of his medical records that he owns and pay for it if necessary. He can copy or scan & print them as often as needed. This will be a massive help in establishing history and clarifying he's not just a drug seeker. It would also be helpful if his current doc connects with his temporary prescriber to confirm treatment and such. Lastly, make sure your son has a full refill before he heads to San Francisco. I know being without meds is a scary prospect, but this is a fixable problem. It may take many phone calls and much persistence, but you will find someone who can treat your son while he is in San Francisco. Best of luck!
posted by katemcd at 8:40 PM on March 30, 2016

I believe the dr is prohibited from writing more than one month at a time.

Does your Aetna plan have an mail-order pharmacy? Our experience with Concerta has been that walk in pharmacies are prohibited from distributing more than a month's supply but the mail-ins associated with your insurer can dispense a 90 day supply. Your doctor should be able to write a 90 day prescription as the maker of Vyvanse even offers coupons for it.
posted by jamaro at 8:49 PM on March 30, 2016

I use One Medical and they are easy to communicate with and schedule with. FYI they are not a walk in clinic but it is relatively easy to get same day appointment once you're signed up with them.

If he will have to find a new doctor here I'd recommend calling around at least a month ahead of time for doctors appointments.
posted by oneear at 9:12 PM on March 30, 2016

I've used One Medical for years (since they were calling themselves Metropolitan MD). It's a total game-changer for dealing with health care. They have locations all over the city (and elsewhere in the Bay Area as well) and I've always been able to get same-day appointments when I've needed them. Well worth the yearly fee, in my opinion. I also know that they take Aetna (PPO, at least), as that's what I'm using right now.
posted by strangecargo at 12:24 AM on March 31, 2016

Adding on to my earlier comment to echo those from others: I always found the annual fee worth it, even if I only went a few times a few, because it made the process of scheduling so much easier.
posted by samthemander at 12:26 AM on March 31, 2016

Does the school have a student health clinic? Check what their policy for prescribing stimulants is before counting on this though; some schools require a more thorough diagnosis before they'll prescribe.
posted by matildatakesovertheworld at 12:52 AM on March 31, 2016

One of my kids has ADHD and went to CA for the summer and had the same problem. You can only get those meds for 30 days, you need to physically hand in the script to the pharmacy with ID, and CA didn't accept MA doctor scripts.

My kid called his MA doctor and had him write a diagnosis letter with the prescription information, then went to the health center at the school where he was studying to get a prescription.

I can't recommend any specific doctors in that area, but make sure your son has an updated letter with his diagnosis and prescription information. That will help.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 2:53 AM on March 31, 2016 [3 favorites]

I was going to recommend the letter also. You can physically carry one, but I believe your MA doctor can also put the letter in your son's file and then the CA doctor can directly contact the MA doctor and have a copy faxed/scanned to them, just to prove that yes, it's a real letter from a real doctor.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:12 AM on March 31, 2016

My doctor calls my Adderall Rx's in these days, no paper required on my end. When we were still doing paper I'd get three at a time, one for now, then one with DO NOT FULL UNTIL MAY 1 and another with JUNE 1 on them. The only issue I ever had was 31 day months. Will your son's doctor do that?
posted by good lorneing at 8:39 PM on March 31, 2016

Good news! We decided to go with One Medical, so now my son has a dr appointment the week he arrives, in a convenient location. As we explored this it occurred to me that I was so focused on the medication part that I wasn't thinking that he could just plain get sick out there. So now he has someone! Thanks!
posted by Biblio at 5:18 AM on April 5, 2016

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