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.

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