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Switching Pharmacies Is an Option if Your Pharmacy Gets in the Way of Your Adherence

October 28, 2014

Joel Gallant, M.D., M.P.H.

Joel Gallant, M.D., M.P.H.

Though many people don't have many options when it comes to choosing a pharmacy (for example, they may have to use the specialty pharmacy that is dictated by their insurance), having a pharmacy that "has its stuff together" and that can help with adherence is of the utmost importance. On his personal Tumblr ("Ask Dr. Joel"), Joel Gallant, M.D., M.P.H., an HIV doctor at Southwest CARE Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico, answers questions from people living with HIV who are concerned about a number of issues, especially adherence.

On June 7, 2014, an anonymous user asked:

I'm taking Atripla and my partner is on Sustiva / Epzicom. Both of us on the same meds for 10 years and always undetectable. We moved a few months back and our neighborhood pharmacy always has problems with his meds in inventory. It seems like every attempt to refill, my partner has to skip a day or two of meds until the pharmacy can replenish their stock of his drugs. Which is safer for him: skip a day or two every month or borrow one or two of my pills every month?

Gallant answered:

The best thing for your partner would be to find a pharmacy that has its act together. Not keeping such commonly used drugs in stock for a customer who they know will be needing a refill is unacceptable. While I hate to support a large conglomerate over a local neighborhood business, in your partner's case he may be better off with a mail-order pharmacy.

Another approach would be for both of you to take Atripla so you could borrow from each other when this sort of thing happens. But I don't know whether Atripla is appropriate for your partner.

Should he borrow from you? From his standpoint, it might be reasonable. That way he'd still be getting the Sustiva, and a couple days of the tenofovir/emtricitabine component of Atripla shouldn't hurt him. But then you run the risk of running out of meds too soon. Going a couple days without meds is unlikely to cause a problem either, at least with this regimen. But I don't like either of those solutions to a problem that should not be yours to solve!

Joel Gallant, M.D., M.P.H., is the associate medical director of specialty services at Southwest CARE Center in New Mexico. You can ask him a question directly on his Tumblr page, Ask Dr. Joel.

Mathew Rodriguez is the community editor for and You can follow him on Twitter at @mathewrodriguez, like his Facebook page or visit him on his personal website.

Copyright © 2014 Remedy Health Media, LLC. All rights reserved.

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