Taking Medications

What is an “adverse event?”

This is any serious reaction that happens during or after treatment with a medication. An adverse event can be moderate to severe (such as a heart attack or an allergic reaction to the medication). It can be harmful if it’s not managed right away, and might involve stopping treatment with the medication. The medication label and/or the paper inserts that come with the medication list adverse events. Always talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you are concerned you’re having an adverse event caused by your medication.

What is the Prescription Monitoring Program?

The Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) helps prevent or decrease the risk of possible overuse of harmful medications. 

Beneficiaries who are placed on the PMP by their TRICARE Managed Care Support Contractor are required to obtain controlled medication from one provider. Upon enrollment, a letter will be sent requesting the selected provider. Beneficiaries may request changes to their authorized provider by sending a request to Express Scripts. 

Beneficiaries placed in the PMP by their Military Treatment Facility will be assigned an authorized provider and/or pharmacy by a program point of contact at the facility. Contact your provider or primary care manager for assistance. Contact us for additional help. 

Email: TRICARE111@express-scripts.com

Phone (866)333-1348

Fax: (866)579-4662

Mail: Express Scripts

Prescription Monitoring Department

1 Express Way

St. Louis, MO 63121

What is a “medication interaction?”

When you take more than one medication at the same time, they can sometimes affect each other. If that occurs, it is called an interaction. Medications can interact in many different ways. For instance, medication interactions can:

  • Change how the medication is absorbed by your stomach and intestines
  • Increase or decrease the amount of another medication in your body
  • Boost the effects of another medication or stop it from working
  • Make another medication’s side effect more likely or more dangerous

Some interactions can be minor, but others can be serious or even life-threatening. Here are a few ways you can help decrease your risk for medication interactions:

  • Tell your doctor and pharmacist about your health conditions and all the medication you take. This includes prescription and nonprescription, or over-the-counter (OTC) medications, and any supplements or herbal products.
  • Read the information that comes with your medication to learn about any drug interactions.
  • Tell your doctor and pharmacist about any tobacco, alcohol, or other drug use, because these could affect how your medication works.

Fill out the Health, Allergy & Medication questionnaire to alert us to any known drug interactions you might have.

To reach the questionnaire:

  1. Log in.
  2. Go to Benefits.
  3. Select Print Forms.
  4. Scroll to the Health, Allergy & Medication questionnaire section.
  5. Select the name and date of birth and click the Get Started button.
  6. Fill out the form online and select Submit to send it to us. 

 

What happens if I miss a dose of medicine?

It’s important to take your medication as prescribed by your healthcare provider. If you skip a dose or wait too long between doses, the amount of medication in your body can decline and not work as well. If you take your medication too often, the amount in your body could get too high, which could cause problems. If you miss a dose, read the information that comes with the medication or ask your doctor or pharmacist what to do after a missed dose.

Tips for using prescription medication safely

Here are a few safety tips for taking prescription medications:

Do: 

  • Learn about your medication and how to take it. Learn about its side effects and how it works with other medication you’re taking. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medication is causing a side effect.
    • Read the information that comes with your medication. It lists the drug's potential side effects and other safety notices.
  • Always tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to any medications.
  • Always carry a list of all prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medication you take, including supplements, such as vitamins or herbal extracts. Show this list to all your healthcare providers.
  • Talk to your doctor and pharmacist before using any OTC, herbal, or homeopathic (alternative) products. Some of these products can cause serious health problems if taken with other medication.
  • Dispose of all medication that’s expired or that’s more than 1 year old, according to your local environmental guidelines.
  • If you have more questions, you can contact an Express Scripts pharmacist.

Don't:

  • Never share your medication with other people. Taking another person's medication can lead to serious health problems.

Should I take my medicine on an empty stomach or with food?

This differs for every medication. Read the medication label and the information that comes with your medication to find out more. You also can ask your doctor or pharmacist about the best way to take your medication.

How should I dispose of extra medication I no longer use?

Do:

Do Not

  • Keep any extra medication for later use.
  • Wash it down the sink or toilet. This can make water supplies unsafe.
  • Throw the medication away in the garbage.

What’s the difference between a brand-name medicine and a generic medicine?

Generic drugs often are a lower-cost option to brand-name drugs. A generic drug has the same active ingredient as its brand-name version, but might contain different fillers or coatings.   

Important things to know about generic drugs:

  • Generic equivalent drugs always come in the same form (for example, a tablet or capsule) and dose as their brand-name version. You don’t have to take more of a generic drug to get the same results as its brand-name version.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) makes sure all FDA-approved generic drugs are as safe and effective as the brand-name medication.

Can I get a refill without an appointment or does the doctor need to see me again?

If you don’t have any remaining refills for a prescription, contact your doctor. Your doctor might order some tests or ask to see you before renewing your prescription. Some states have rules that require you to visit your doctor or pharmacist before getting refills.

To find out if you have refills left on your prescription check the prescription label for refills remaining. You can also log in, go to Prescriptions and select Order History to see if you have more refills. And the Express Scripts mobile app shows refills remaining.

Do you always substitute a generic medicine for a brand-name drug?

No. Not all brand-name drugs have generic versions, and there may be situations where your doctor wants you to take the brand-name version only. When writing your prescription, your doctor will indicate if a generic version is OK.

What is a “controlled substance” and why does this limit refills?

This term is used for medications that are restricted by law because they carry a high risk for causing harm. The Controlled Substances Act defines which medications are Controlled Substances, including opioids and certain stimulants. You can find out more about this term at the National Cancer Institute website.

There are a few reasons why there might be limits for refills of these medications:

  • There are federal laws that do not allow refills.
  • Your state might limit the amount of medication doctors can prescribe. These limits are based either on diagnosis or by the number of days of medication needed.
  • Your benefit plan might have certain refill limits for these medications.
  • You might need to ask your doctor for a new prescription or for a refill. Check with your doctor. You might have to visit for a check-up before the doctor can prescribe more medication.

 

 

Can I get generic medicines in the same quantity and dosage as my brand-name drugs?

Yes. When a brand-name drug has a generic version, you can get it in the same quantity and dosage that your plan’s rules allow.

How can I inform TRICARE about my medication allergies or other health issues?

You can record these details in our online Health Questionnaire.

  1. Log in and go to Benefits.
  2. Select Print Forms.
  3. Scroll to the Health, allergy & medication questionnaire section.
  4. Select the name and date of birth and click the Get Started button.
  5. Fill out the form online and select Submit to send it to us. 

When you fill a prescription, our pharmacists will use these details to check if there might be concerns or conflicts with any of your medications.

Can I use over-the-counter (OTC) drugs with the medicines I’m taking?

An over-the-counter (OTC) medication does not require a prescription. Examples include aspirin and cough medication, as well as vitamin and herbal supplements.

OTC drugs can sometimes cause side effects or serious problems if taken with prescription medications. Before taking any OTC medication, look for safety warnings on both the OTC package label and in the information that comes with your prescription medication.

Always check with your doctor or pharmacist if you’re not sure about using an OTC medication.

Do I need to change my lifestyle when taking my medication? Are there any activities I should avoid?

With some types of medication you might need to make changes, such as staying out of the sun, avoiding certain foods, or not driving. Ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain if your medication requires you to make such changes. And, always read the medication labels — these explain key things you need to know.

 

General safety tips for using over-the-counter medicines.

  • Pay attention to any warnings on the prescription label and find out if the OTC drug is safe to take with your other medications or with the condition(s) you have.
  • When in doubt, ask a pharmacist or doctor about the drug’s safety and possible side effects, or about the OTC that will be best for you. 
  • Do not take more than the dose advised on the label.
  • Never take an OTC medication longer than the maximum time written on the label. Stop taking it if your symptoms get worse.
  • Keep all medication, including OTC medication, out of the reach of children and pets.

How long should I keep taking this medicine?

Try to stay on track with your medicine for as long as your doctor tells you — even if you begin feeling better. Stopping your medicine too early can lead to health problems, so it’s helpful to talk to your doctor, first.

Tips for talking to your doctor

It’s always helpful to ask questions when you talk with your health providers. But it’s also  easy to forget what to ask! Here are 3 key questions to ask at doctor visits that can help you get the most from your visit.

  1. What is the main problem?
  2. What do I need to do?
  3. Why is it important for me to do this?

Can I use herbal products?

Herbal products are made from plants. The FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) does not inspect or assess these products before they come to market, but they can track claims about the product’s safety or usefulness after it’s on the market. The FDA can take action against a product maker, if the product puts people at risk for illness or injury. Some herbal products can be potent. They can cause side effects or can interact with prescription or OTC drugs. Always tell your doctor or pharmacist if you’re taking herbal products, and keep a list of those products with your list of medications.

What is a “side effect?”

A side effect is a new symptom that occurs when you take a medication, either because of the medication or because of the way you take it (such as by injection, IV, by mouth, or by patch). The label on your medication and the paper insert that comes with the medication will list common side effects.

Common side effects for many medications include feeling sleepy, gaining weight, coughing, or having stomach or bowel problems. Most side effects often are not serious, but you should always talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you have questions or concerns about your medication’s side effects.

Where can I dispose of extra medication I no longer use?

Do

  • Ask the pharmacist how to dispose of it.
  • Check for a local drug disposal program at your local police or fire departments, or at DisposeMyMeds.org. Also look for Prescription Drug Take Back Days sponsored by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Do Not

  • Keep any extra medication for later use.
  • Wash it down the sink or toilet. This can make water supplies unsafe.
  • Throw the medication away in the garbage.

If you can’t find the answer to your question, please contact us.