When considering how to have a prescription filled, you have choices. You can go to your local drugstore or get many prescriptions filled online. If you have it filled online, you may order a single month’s supply, or a subscription with automatic refills.

If you choose to avoid the lines at the corner drugstore by having your prescriptions filled online, you may wonder which option is better. Should you sign up for the automatic refill subscription? Or is it better to re-order manually each month? Let’s look at the pros and cons for each.

Subscription Advantages:

  • Keeps You on Track: By getting your prescription refilled and shipped automatically, you won’t need to worry you may miss doses for several days if you forget to re-order before running out. Skipping doses of your medication can lead to serious problems. A study at the University of Arkansas found that half of American adults don’t take their meds when they’re supposed to. And it’s estimated that the problems caused by skipping prescribed doses of medication leads to $100-$300 billion per year in avoidable health care costs (1). That’s a good reason to not skip your medication!
  • Won’t Run Out: Let’s say you’re thinking about a prescription for Viagra or its generic version: sildenafil. Instead of taking it every day, you only take it when you’re planning on having sex. Other prescription drugs are also designed to only be taken when needed. Examples would be drugs to treat symptoms of pain, nausea, and anxiety. Because you only take them when needed, you may not see how many doses you have left in time to reorder.
    It won’t be dangerous to go a few days without taking sildenafil. But it would be very deflating to realize while packing for a romantic getaway week that you were down to 2 pills because you forgot to re-order. By setting up a subscription for X number of pills per month, you can avoid that.

Subscription Disadvantages:

  • Commitment: for an as-needed prescription, you may not want to sign up to have your credit card charged every month. If you only need it infrequently, you may prefer to pay as you go.
  • Excess medication: Because your meds are shipped automatically, you may wind up with excess doses. This can happen with an as-needed prescription, or if you have been instructed by your doctor to stop taking a medication but forget to cancel the prescription. Remember that excess drugs present health hazards and need to be disposed of carefully (2).

Pay As You Go Advantages:

  • No Commitment: If you’re taking an as-needed prescription and haven’t used it all, you can choose to not reorder at the normal time. You won’t be charged for a refill if you don’t need one yet.
  • Saves Money: Since you won’t be getting unneeded doses shipped to you, you won’t be paying for something you’re not using. Depending on the price per pill, this may be a big advantage.

Pay As You Go Disadvantages:

  • Needs More Involvement: As you can tell, most of the subscription advantages are pay-as-you-go disadvantages and vice versa. You will need to remember to reorder your prescription every 30 or 60 day period. Therefore, depending on how essential it is that you never miss a dose, a subscription may be a better option than paying as you go.


Hopefully this has helped you in choosing whether to commit to a subscription plan for your prescription drugs. Having regular shipments so you never run out can be very helpful for many drugs. But for as-needed drugs like your ED medication, paying as you go and only refilling when needed may be the better choice to help save you money and reduce waste from unused medication.


1: https://www.wired.com/2016/07/pharmacy-experience-sucks-startups-redesigning/

2: https://www.inquirer.com/philly/health/qa-what-are-the-pros-and-cons-of-automatic-prescription-refilling-20180707.html