What Does 'ORG' Mean On A Prescription Label?

In our latest question and answer, the pharmacist discusses what 'ORG' means on your prescription label.

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Jun 10, 2019

Irishman asked

What do the initials 'org' mean on a prescription bottle? The date beside it is when I run out of medication, but the pharmacy says I cannot fill it until 4 days later. What can I do to be able to fill my prescription?

Answer

Pile Of Prescripton Bottles With Text- What does ORG Mean On Your Label

'ORG' on your prescription label, which is also sometimes abbreviated as 'ORIG', stands for 'Original'. It often signifies:

  • The date which the prescription was written by your practitioner.

Rarely, 'ORG' may notate the date which you originally filled the prescription for the first time, but in most cases, it will simply be the written date of the prescription.

It is important to distinguish between the 'ORG' date on your prescription label and other dates that may be one it. The 'ORG' date will not change with refills (for that particular prescription) since it essentially stands for the 'written date' (or first fill date) of the entire prescription.

For example, if your doctor wrote you a prescription for say, Lipitor, on June 10th, 2019, that will be the 'ORG' date for the life of that prescription. You may have other dates on your label (such as last fill date), but the ORG date will always stay the same for each refill.

Why The 'ORG' Date Matters

Going forward in this answer, when 'ORG' date is referenced, it will signify the date in which the prescription was written (the most common meaning for the ORG date).

The 'ORG' date is important for several reasons, but, most notably, it dictates how long it can be legally filled for.

In New York State, for example, the 'ORG' (i.e. original) written date is of consequence for controlled substance prescriptions. There are two instances where the originally written date needs to be taken into account:

  • The first fill of a controlled substance.
  • How long you can fill refills for a controlled substance.

Controlled Substance First Fill

A controlled substance prescription expires 30 days after the written date if it has not to be filled. In other words, it must be filled within 30 days of the date that it is written.

From NYS Part 80: Controlled Substance Regulations:

A licensed, registered pharmacist in a registered pharmacy may, in good faith and in the course of his/her professional practice, sell and dispense, to an ultimate user, controlled substances upon the delivery to such pharmacist, within 30 days of the date such prescription was issued by an authorized practitioner.
NYS Part 80: Controlled Substances

Controlled Substance Refills

Additionally (again in NY), a prescription for a controlled substance expires 6 months after the written date, even if you still have refills left on it. From Part 80:

Such official prescription may be refilled, but not more than the number of times specifically authorized by the prescriber upon the prescription; provided, however, no such authorization shall be effective for longer than six months from the date the prescription is signed and that not more than five refills are made.
NYS Part 80: Controlled Substances

Laws for filling prescription do vary by state, but the above examples give you an idea as to why it is important to know the 'ORG' date of a prescription.

Insurance

It is important to note that not only do prescription filling laws account for the 'ORG' (i.e. written date) of a prescription, most insurance companies won't pay for for a claim if it is over a year from the 'ORG' date.

This is why most pharmacy systems will list your prescription (non-controlled substances) and associated refills as expiring one year from the ORG date.

Final Words

As to why your pharmacy states that they can't fill your prescription until a certain date, there could be many reasons for it. It simply may be too soon to fill under the controlled substance laws in your state.

In NYS, you can't fill a controlled substance more than a certain number of days since your last fill. Laws will vary by state, but a similar principle applies pretty much everywhere.

Be sure to ask them a specific reason as to why you can't fill it.

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