I'm in the US and need to get Venlafaxine, FAST
December 29, 2018 8:43 AM   Subscribe

I live in the UK and have a prescription for venlafaxine (Effexor). I'm currently visiting my fiancé in Louisiana, USA. I made a really stupid mistake and didn't pack enough of my meds. I need to obtain a week's supply, as soon as possible. What are my options? I'm in a small town and the chances of me finding someone to re-prescribe this medication at short notice seem slim (my fiancé only gets to see a psychiatrist when they visit his university on one day a month). This is such a dumb mistake and I'm pretty stressed at myself. Please don't tell me how much I've fucked up; I already know.

I am very unhappy with myself for making this mixup (I was tired and stressed and forgot that because I'm now taking the drug 2x/day, 28 tablets only last me for 14 days). As things stand I will run out in about 4 days, although I could ration the pills to hang on a little longer (not without discomfort, though, probably - this is a hell of a drug to withdraw from). I can get a friend to post some more meds (not the best weekend to do it on, admittedly) but that will itself take a while and it's not super legal and if there are other options I'd prefer those. Current plans will have me in New Orleans from the 2nd-5th so if there's a way to have them prescribed there I'll take that. God, this was such a stupid mistake. Goddammit.
posted by Acheman to Health & Fitness (23 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Contact your home pharmacy/doc to see if they can call in a prescription to a pharmacy near you.

It's going to be okay.
posted by bunderful at 8:55 AM on December 29, 2018 [19 favorites]

It’s really okay. Just go to an urgent care clinic and bring your prescription. A doctor there should prescribe the medication you need. It will be expensive, though.
posted by woodvine at 8:55 AM on December 29, 2018 [11 favorites]

If you can't reach your home doc/pharma at the moment, I'd start by calling the local pharmacy to explain the situation and ask what your options are. I've heard that in some cases they'll give you enough to tide you over. Probably depends on the pharmacist/medication.

If that doesn't work - yeah, urgent care is probably your next step.

I haven't forgotten important medications (yet), but I've worried about it a lot.
posted by bunderful at 9:00 AM on December 29, 2018 [3 favorites]

Just to reiterate: try not to be so hard on yourself. This happens to many people, all the time. I have asthma and I have forgotten to pack my rescue inhaler before! I could literally die without it, and yet sometimes I forget to pack it.

Definitely go to an urgent care, or even what we colloquially call "minute clinics:" clinics in grocery stores that have pharmacies attached. The minute clinic will probably be less expensive.
posted by cooker girl at 9:00 AM on December 29, 2018 [10 favorites]

See if you can get your doc to fax your prescription to a nearby pharmacy if you did not bring a copy. This is a stressful situation but I have also done similar things as a human because humans aren’t perfect. No need for any of us to yell at you, including yourself. Good luck!
posted by Bella Donna at 9:06 AM on December 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

First thing to try is to take your prescription bottle to a pharmacy, explain the situation, and see if they will dispense the needed amount directly. I’ve had that happen when I had an asthma attack near a pharmacy and they just gave me the inhaler without a prescription.
posted by u2604ab at 9:24 AM on December 29, 2018 [4 favorites]

I've been able to do this at a Minute Clinic (the little clinic, typically staffed by a nurse practitioner who can write prescriptions, inside a CVS or Walgreens) before.
posted by Polycarp at 9:31 AM on December 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

If you can't get your doctor to call it in, try telemedicine. Check the app store and see what's available. I've personally had good experiences with AmWell and Doctor on Demand, as well as the UPMC Anywhere Care app--I mention all of them because not all apps are available in all states, and because the prices can vary wildly. I've paid as little as $50 and as much as $79, but it's much cheaper and more convenient than going to an urgent care, and often cheaper than an in-person minute clinic.

I've used apps for this exact situation (as well as several others, honestly) and have never had a problem getting the refill I needed.

This wasn't a stupid mistake. This was a totally normal, human mistake that lots of people make. Please be kind to yourself.
posted by mishafletch at 9:32 AM on December 29, 2018 [14 favorites]

If your prescription was filled by a chain pharmacy, you can get it refilled at any pharmacy in that chain. We did this with my wife's migraine medication when we were on our honeymoon in Hawaii: we'd originally had it filled at the Walgreen's near our house, and were able to get it refilled at a Walgreen's on Maui. (Yes, my poor wife got a migraine on our honeymoon.) If that's not possible now, it's something to keep in mind for the future. Even when you're in the middle of nowhere, driving to somewhere there's a Walgreen's can be a good backup plan.
posted by kindall at 9:32 AM on December 29, 2018 [2 favorites]

Does your doctor at home in the UK have an emergency call line or answering service? I assume they won't have regular office hours again until Monday morning, or even Wednesday, but surely they must have some sort of contact available before then? Ask your fiance about the closest large chain pharmacies nearby (they're the most likely to be open on weekends) and check with the pharmacists to see what kind of international documentation they'd need to fill a prescription for you. Have all that info ready when you call your dr in the UK, ideally they can fax or even email something for you.

The local pharmacist will be aware of the extreme withdrawal symptoms associated with your meds and will most certainly want to help you, especially since it's not a scheduled (that is, with addiction potential) medication. Throw yourself on their mercy, basically.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:06 AM on December 29, 2018 [2 favorites]

Agree with above advice for urgent care (like Patient First) or a minute clinic in a pharmacy or grocery store.

Stopped by to say I’ve seen this in action in a situation exactly like yours: Friend was visiting me in the US from the Netherlands. She forgot her anxiety meds, and she had a panic attack. The doc at urgent care gave her enough alprazolam to last the rest of her trip. My friend didn’t even have her prescription on her.

You will be ok. This happens all the time.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 10:09 AM on December 29, 2018 [2 favorites]

A local pharmacist can call your normal pharmacist and sort it out. Just bring the empty bottle.
posted by w0mbat at 10:18 AM on December 29, 2018

This happens all the time in the US (big country, no way to reasonably get back home to forgotten meds). You will be able to find plenty of Urgent Care facilities in New Orleans*, and Effexor is not exactly a party drug, any doctor is going to be like "yeah, you need to not suddenly go off this."

*I guarantee you're within a 90-minute drive of one; it's the only way a lot of people in the US get any medical care. Even if you're in the boonies you'll likely find something in the nearest not-tiny town.

Now, it IS likely to run you about $100 for the visit and then the cost of the medication. It doesn't look like Target has it on their low-price prescription list (which surprises me), but Walmart does.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:19 AM on December 29, 2018

If you’re going to call your doctor or try telemedicine, I’d first make a list of local pharmacies, their addresses, hours, phone numbers, and fax numbers so when you find someone who can help and they ask where to call in the prescription, you’ll be all set.

Also, I just want to nth the advice to take it easy on yourself because this is a thing that happens. I’ve called my GP on a Saturday from my in-laws and gone to a local CVS with my father-in-law feeling like a dummy the whole time but seriously it’s no big deal. It’s a stressful situation but a common one. Just take care of it ASAP so you can stop worrying and go back to enjoying your trip.
posted by kat518 at 10:41 AM on December 29, 2018 [2 favorites]

A US pharmacy won't accept a prescription from out of the US. As Lyn Never said, you should head to an urgent care center with your prescription bottle and see a doctor there.
posted by ShooBoo at 11:01 AM on December 29, 2018 [6 favorites]

Yes, you're going to need a local/American doctor or nurse-practitioner to prescribe the medication, but an Urgent Care or Minute Clinic should be able to do it easily, especially if you have the original bottle with the medication.
posted by lazuli at 11:08 AM on December 29, 2018

(Basically, you shouldn't need to see a psychiatrist for this refill. Anyone with prescribing powers can write the prescription, and in my experience in helping clients transfer from psychiatrists to their general practitioners, most general practitioners are fairly comfortable taking over refill authority for medication regimens that have already been set up by a psychiatrist.)
posted by lazuli at 11:10 AM on December 29, 2018 [3 favorites]

Sounds like you've gotten the right advice already but I just wanted to add to the chorus of, "You're fine." You're fine, people do shit like this all the time, it doesn't mean you're a failure as a person. It's just one little oversight that's super easy to make when you're in the midst of prepping for an international trip. Totally normal, functional, successful people make this level of screwup all the damn time. No need to beat yourself up about it, just get it taken care of.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 12:02 PM on December 29, 2018 [2 favorites]

Once you have obtained the prescription from an urgent care, use the website GoodRx to get a coupon that will significantly reduce the out of pocket cost of the prescription. (You may want to use it in advance of your urgent care visit to determine which chain pharmacy will be the cheapest for you to use.)
posted by ocherdraco at 12:17 PM on December 29, 2018 [3 favorites]

Thank you guys so much for the help and good advice! I got a $75 appointment with Doctor On Demand, had them send the scrip to the local Walgreens, and got a GoodRx coupon to reduce the price. More than I'm accustomed to paying for medical care (ie: nothing) and I'm still annoyed with myself, but I'm a lot calmer and it sounds like I saved a bunch by going this route. Thank you thank you thank you!
(also thanks for the reassurance that, while an expensive mistake, it's not one that no reasonable human has ever made before. I'm going to try to tell myself that as much as possible.)
posted by Acheman at 12:30 PM on December 29, 2018 [42 favorites]

It seems that you're sorted now, but in case other people come to this question later: do you have travel insurance? If so, contact them first. They should have some sort of 24 hour contact line. They may direct you to a specific doctor/provider (which should at least reduce the charges mentioned above, depending on your policy).

Also, as people forget medications all the time and this might happen to you while you're in the UK, this is the NHS advice for UK nationals needing an emergency supply of medicine in the UK. Your situation is so frequent that the NHS webpage is classifed as "common health questions".
posted by Vortisaur at 12:35 PM on December 29, 2018 [2 favorites]

Late to chime in, I forgot USA Effexor going to both rural UK and remote spot in Australia, found clinics, and received a supply. Docs know we forget, as they surely do, and know the nasty withdrawal from Effexor. Be kind to yourself.
posted by evenolderthanshelooks at 2:46 PM on December 29, 2018 [6 favorites]

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