How Long Do Pharmacies Hold Prescriptions (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 7 – 14 Days

Prescription refers to an instruction written by a medical practitioner. Through a prescription, the doctor authorizes a patient to be issued with a medicine or treatment prescribed by the doctor and written therein. Thus, a prescription is nothing but a recommendation that is authoritatively put forward for the benefit of the patient by his health care professional.

Doctors prescribe medicines to their patients which would be required by them in the treatment they are currently undergoing. Certain medicines are of such nature that they can be availed from a pharmacy store only if they are given in prescription by the doctor.

How Long Do Pharmacies Hold Prescriptions

How Long Do Pharmacies Hold Prescriptions?

A prescription by a doctor to a patient is an instruction to the pharmacist to dispense the stated quantity of the prescribed medicine or drug to the patient.

The prescription document could also contain information about how, when, and for how long the prescribed medication should be taken by the patient. It could indicate the number of doses to be taken, whether to have it before or after meals, how long to continue the said medication, etc.

Thus, prescriptions effectively assist patients to deal with an ailment whether it is acute or chronic. Patients are also immensely helped by the written instructions given by the doctor to properly adhere to all the instructions mentioned therein.

Prescriptions might be directly sent to the pharmacy or the doctor may hand them to the patients to be given to the pharmacy to collect the prescribed medicines. One should go and collect their medicines as soon as possible as pharmacies do not hold the prescriptions for long.

Generally, most pharmacies hold prescriptions for 7 – 14 days before canceling the order. However, this duration might vary as each pharmacy can have different rules, terms and, conditions in this matter.

Time required by a pharmacy to restock medicines1 – 3 days
Duration for which pharmacies hold prescriptions7 – 14 days

Why Do Pharmacies Hold Prescription For This Long?

The main job of a pharmacy is to provide its customers with the required medication they need. Customers visit pharmacies with their prescription to convey to the pharmacist the medicine or drugs that their doctor has prescribed for them.

As there is a variety of medicines available for different ailments and each medicine works differently, it is very well possible that the medicine of one’s prescription might not be available with the pharmacist or it might have been out-of-stock. In such circumstances, the pharmacist would hold the prescription for a certain number of days till the required medicine come back in stock or is made available for the customer on special notice.

However, when pharmacies hold the prescription of their customer, the customer must go and collect his medicines on time. Most pharmacies these days immediately intimate their customer when the medicine prescribed in their prescription is available with them so that their customer need not have to wait for long.

After intimating the customer about the medicine’s availability, the pharmacies would hold them for a maximum of 2 weeks. However, if the medicines are expensive and specifically ordered, they might hold them for long but this depends on the pharmacy’s own rules and policies. Thus, if one is unable to go and collect their prescription on time from the pharmacy, one could even send their family member or a friend to collect the same.

The medicine in the prescription that is kept on waiting to be picked by the customers is not available for others who too might need the same medication. Also, if the customer does not pick up the medicine and it is not dispensed by the pharmacy, it would get returned to the pharmacy stock which can later be issued to other customers. Thus, pharmacies hold prescription that has not been picked up for only 7 – 14 days.


Prescriptions are provided by a doctor to a patient instructing him about the name of the medicine to be bought for the ongoing treatment. A prescription can also signify the method, time, and dosages to be taken for that particular medication.

These prescriptions are required to be shown to the pharmacist to avail the medicines or drugs prescribed. At times, one would be required to wait for the medicine to get back in stock, and thus, the pharmacist would hold the prescription for its customer and would specify the duration it can be collected from the pharmacy.

In case of prescription for the elderly, injured, or disabled individuals who are not capable of collecting their prescription on their own, it might become necessary to have someone else pick up the prescription preferably within a week or two on the patient’s behalf to prevent the order from being canceled by the pharmacy.



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Hi! I'm Nidhi.

Here at the EHL, it's all about delicious, easy recipes for casual entertaining. So come and join me at the beach, relax and enjoy the food.

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