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Press Release

Americans Fail to Consider Medication Needs in Emergency Planning

A significant majority of Americans (80 percent) feel it is important to have a plan in place to access their important medications in the case of an emergency. However, only one-third (34 percent) have made such a plan, according to a survey released today by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP).

The survey also revealed that nearly a third of respondents (30 percent) said there would be serious health problems if they or their family members were without their medications for three to five days. Yet, only a quarter (25 percent) had stored or tried to store an extra supply of medications important to their or their family’s health in case of emergency while more than half (58 percent) had not.

“It is alarming to learn that so many people have not taken important steps to prepare for themselves or their loved ones in case of emergencies,” said Debra Devereaux, MBA, FASHP, ASHP president. “Anyone who depends on medications to control a serious medical condition should make sure they will have these medications if they must suddenly leave their home under emergency conditions.”

ASHP recommends that consumers follow this list of emergency preparedness tips: 

  • Keep a list of all your medications in your wallet.   
  • Wear your medical-alert bracelet or necklace.   
  • Store 3-5 days of medications that are important to your health.   
  • Refill your prescriptions while you still have at least a 5-7 day supply of medications left.Keep in mind that some sources, such as mail order pharmacies, have a longer lead-time to refill.   
  • If your child takes medications, communicate with school officials to discuss their emergency preparedness plans.   
  • If you have a complex medication regimen, talk to their physician and pharmacist to help with emergency preparation plans. 

More information about these tips can be found on ASHP’s consumer Web site, on the “Medication Safety” page. 

“While emergency preparedness related to terrorism has received a lot of publicity since September 11, people should be ready for any emergency, including natural disasters such as tornados, hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes,” said Devereaux. “Ask your doctor or pharmacist if going without your medications for several days could result in severe illness or hospitalization. If the answer is ‘yes,’ it is critical that you have a plan in place.”

The telephone survey was conducted with 1,014 adults nationwide between April 4 and 8, 2003. The data were weighted to reflect the demographic make-up of the adult U.S. population. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points. The full survey report can be found at

ASHP is the 30,000-member national professional association that represents pharmacists who practice in hospitals, health maintenance organizations, long-term care facilities, home care and other components of health care systems. ASHP, which has a long history of medication error prevention efforts, believes that the mission of pharmacists is to help people make the best use of medicines. Assisting pharmacists in fulfilling this mission is ASHP’s primary objective. The Society has extensive publishing and educational programs designed to help members improve their delivery of pharmaceutical care, and it is the national accrediting organization for pharmacy residency and pharmacy technician training programs.  For more information, visit or