Why Drug Stores are Refusing to Fulfill Online Prescriptions for Anxiety & ADHD

"...But one major reason prescriptions are denied is because the pharmacy questions the provider’s legitimacy"
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Though online pharmacies have made it easier than ever to receive a diagnosis and prescription for anxiety or ADHD without visiting a doctor’s office, it may not be so easy to get these prescriptions filled anymore. Many drug stores, including giants like Walmart and CVS, are now blocking or delaying telehealth prescriptions for ADHD and anxiety.1 The pharmacies have expressed concerns that clinicians at companies like Done Health and Cerebral Inc. are writing too many prescriptions for controlled substances, which carry a potential for abuse.  

Learn more about the dangers of telehealth prescriptions and explore alternatives to prescription ADD/ADHD medications.  

Concerns Surrounding Telehealth Prescriptions & ADHD Meds

Pharmacies have various reasons for not filling a telehealth prescription, such as medication being out of stock or receiving a request for a refill before a previous prescription has run out. But one major reason prescriptions are denied is because the pharmacy questions the provider’s legitimacy. This is especially true when it comes to controlled substances like ADHD medications.

Some medical professionals have said that telehealth companies make stimulant ADHD medications “too easy to get” despite carrying side effects and a risk for dependency and abuse.2 These side effects vary in each user, but include dizziness, headaches, upset stomach, weight loss, insomnia, moodiness, and nervousness, which should be thoroughly discussed with the patient. It has also been alleged that some employees at telehealth companies were encouraged to prescribe stimulants to 100% of its ADHD patients as part of a plan to increase customer retention, an unethical aim that places profit over patients.3 

These behind-the-scenes business goals coupled with short appointment times and poor customer service means that it is very likely for patients to be misdiagnosed or overprescribed with medications they might not even need without exploring alternative options first.   

How Online Prescribing Has Become Potentially Excessive 

Data shows that with the help of telehealth prescriptions, the demand for ADHD medication in the U.S. is on the rise. And these prescription rates are significantly higher in the U.S. in comparison to other developed nations, such as Japan, China, and across Europe.4 This suggests a trend of U.S. physicians prescribing ADHD medication too often and too quickly even though overprescription can have dire consequences. 

Overprescribing ADHD medication can cause such symptoms as:

  • Heart complications
  • Overdose
  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Risk of dependency and/or addiction
  • Changes in personality
  • Withdrawal symptoms

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Telehealth Policies in Modern Society 

Before COVID-19, controlled substances like those used to treat anxiety and ADHD were only available to patients who received their prescription in person. However, the 2020 CARES Act loosened restrictions to help expand the use of telehealth during the pandemic. Corresponding with these loosened restrictions was a significant increase in prescriptions and the proliferation of online providers ready to hand them out.5

In a post-pandemic future, researchers say that quality evaluations must be built into the telehealth process to ensure safety for all patients. After all, for some ADHD patients, the ease of telehealth providers has made their lives easier. As Bloomberg reports, “ADHD affects executive functioning, the technical term for getting things done.6 And acquiring ADHD medications requires getting a lot of little things done.” This includes finding a clinician with availability, dealing with insurance, and taking time off work or school to make it to the appointment needed to get a prescription. Despite these benefits, providers must be handling their patients with care, which is often difficult to achieve in a 30-minute telehealth visit. 

Can Patients Get Proper Care After a 30-minute Telehealth Visit?

Many telehealth users have reported that their online sessions have been around 30 minutes, enough time for them to receive a diagnosis and prescription with a person they had never met before. Some users have described these sessions as “sloppy, short” and only consisting of a dozen or so questions. According to leading ADHD expert William Dodson, M.D, a thorough ADHD evaluation should last several hours, beginning with a clinical interview to understand the patient’s daily symptoms and medical history, including any diagnoses of ADHD and/or its comorbidities within the family.7 This is especially true when prescribing medications that are considered controlled substances. 

If 30 minutes seems short, consider this data from Singlecare that found the average telehealth visit was actually around 13-15 minutes.8

Are There Alternatives to Anxiety and ADHD Medications? 

Though anxiety and ADHD medications can be highly beneficial for many individuals, we at Brillia prefer to see these pharmaceuticals as a last resort, instead of the first or only option. From dietary changes to homeopathic medication, there are many proven ways to reduce symptoms associated with anxiety and ADHD without the need for telehealth visits, in-person appointments, or the use of prescription medications. 

Brillia is one alternative homeopathic medication for anxiety and ADHD symptoms that is available without an official diagnosis or prescription. Free from harsh, synthetic chemicals or harmful side effects, Brillia’s active ingredient consists of targeted antibodies to the S100B protein, a crucial regulator of many different intracellular and extracellular brain processes, such as enzyme activities, calcium homeostasis, and communication between neurons. By regulating the activity of this protein, Brillia helps to control these symptoms, improve attention and focus, and also normalizes the level of monoamines (dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin) in different parts of the brain in a gentle and impactful way that results in calmness and clarity without any off-target effects in the body.

Medication is just one component to Brillia’s holistic approach to managing anxiety and ADHD. The homeopathic tablets work best when combined with the healthy lifestyle factors outlined in our 5-Pillar methodology, including proper nutrition, adequate sleep, controlled screen time, and mindfulness practices. With each purchase, the customer is connected with Brillia's Customer Care team to support them at every step of the way and is given guidance on how to monitor progress and get the best results from their Brillia journey.

Learn more about how Brillia works and explore other ways to reduce anxiety, inattention, and hyperactivity at the Brillia(ance) Resource Center.

Brillia is always here to help you shine brigher.

References: 1https://www.wsj.com/articles/walmart-cvs-pharmacies-have-blocked-or-delayed-telehealth-adderall-prescriptions-11651082131, 2https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2022-05-05/telehealth-companies-rethink-booming-adhd-drugs-after-scrutiny, 3https://news.bloomberglaw.com/health-law-and-business/ex-cerebral-vp-alleges-unethical-prescription-practices-in-suit, 4https://www.tctmd.com/news/adhd-drug-overprescribing-raises-concerns-over-future-cv-events, 5https://www.ashp.org/advocacy-and-issues/key-issues/other-issues/additional-advocacy-efforts/issue-brief-covid-19, 6https://www.bloomberg.com/news/newsletters/2022-08-04/telehealth-has-failed-adhd-patients-but-they-aren-t-giving-up, 7https://ibcces.org/learning/the-tattered-promise-of-adhd-telehealth/, 7https://ibcces.org/learning/the-tattered-promise-of-adhd-telehealth/, 8https://www.singlecare.com/blog/news/telehealth-statistics/

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