How Long Is A Prescription Good For (And Why)?

How Long Is A Prescription Good For (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 1 year

In today’s world, many doctors still use paper to write prescriptions. After the doctor writes the prescription there is not a fixed time to tell for how long the prescription is valid. The validity of prescription depends on the law of each state. The pharmacy activities and practices both are governed by federal and state laws.

All the states are required to follow and cooperate with the federal laws, but there are some states that have their own laws. Most of the states would have validity time for around 1 year, but some states have increased the time frame.

How Long Is A Prescription Good For

How Long Is A Prescription Good For?

PrescriptionHow Long Is A Prescription Good For
Minimum time12 months
Maximum time24 months

There are many conditions and factors that would affect how long a prescription is valid. The validity time of filled and written prescriptions would be different. Nowadays, the value of a written prescription works more as an electronic prescription. The drug is divided into two parts under federal laws. These are:

Controlled drugs
Non controlled drugs
The drugs that you use normally under prescriptions come under Non controlled drugs. These drugs basically include medicines for the heart, blood pressure, and antibiotics. The federal laws for the validity of non-controlled drugs are quite flexible.

The federal law would not put any constraints or restrictions on the non-controlled laws.
There are some states that will have a time limit for the validity of the prescription. For states such as New York would not have any time limit for the validity of the prescriptions.

For other states, the time limit would not be more than 1 year under some specific state laws. Once the validity time of the written prescription is over, then the pharmacist is not allowed to fill the prescription legally.

There are some states, such as Idaho and Maine, where the prescription is valid for more than one year. Sometimes, the pharmacist would deny filling the form if the prescription is written before 3 or 4 months. This may happen if the nature of the original infection no longer exists.
If the written prescription has contained any drug or antibiotics for an infection and the infection is not affecting the person at the moment. Then the pharmacist has the right to deny giving the medication or drug.

Why Is A Prescription Good For This Long?

No one can use the old prescription for any new infections. The doctor’s evaluation is vital for getting medication for any new type of infection. The filling time for a controlled drug is differently decided by the federal laws. The drugs that may make someone physically or psychologically dependent is categorized under controlled drug.

The controlled substances or drugs are divided under the schedules. The schedules are made based on the potential abuse, uses of the drug, and its dependence on the person. Narcotics is a popular example of controlled drugs. Ritalin comes under the schedule II category of controlled drugs.

There is no limitation of time on the filling of schedule II drugs under the controlled drug category. There will be some states that restrict the distribution amount of controlled drugs along with the time limit for prescription filling.

The validity of prescription depends on the category of drug or medication mentioned. The time of validity would be different for controlled drugs and refills. The doctor mentioned any kind of refills on the prescription, then the validity time would be around 1 year.

Once the time period is over, then the person may ask the doctor for another prescription to get the refills. The states with extended time limits for the validity of prescriptions would provide more benefits to people. As people may not have to wait for a long time to get another prescription.

The people can do the annual check-ups and therapy without any interference.


If the prescription expires, then the person has to get another prescription from the doctor. Everyone can also renew their perception if the facility is available by the doctor.

Some offices would allow renewing the prescription if the prescription is stable. Increasing the number of refills can only be done by the pharmacist or doctor. Everyone is recommended to check the refills when the prescription is filled.


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