How is days supply calculated when you have multiple dosage options?

I am prescribed 56 oxycodone HCI 5mg and it says "take one or two tablets by mouth every 4 hours as needed for severe pain or pain" so I'm sure it's not a 30 day supply but cannot determine if it's intended for one or two weeks please assist lol

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Feb 12, 2021
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4 days supply or 7 days supply, depending on the situation
by: David

Opioid Narcotics are much more scrutinized, tracked, and monitored than are other types or classes of medications.

As I have laid out and explained before, the same types of elements are foundational to all of these types of questions (days supply queries) which include the concept of the maximum daily dose.

In this case, your sig states: "take 1-2 tablets PO q4h PRN". The maximum you can take is 2 tablets 6 times a day.

2x6=12 oxycodone 5mg tablets daily for a maximum daily dose. Now at this point, the provider or prescriber may indicate something like "NTE" or "not to exceed" a certain number of tablets per day, such as NTE 8 tablets. Since you didn't include this part in your question, I will not include it in this answer, however, that type of thing is not uncommon.

So, anyway, back to our answer.

56 tablets, divided by 12 per day as a max dose, equal to 4.666666667

Whenever we come across remainders when figuring days supply, we ALWAYS round down, and never up because if we rounded UP, there would be a lack of sufficient supply and the calculation would be erroneous. It would also, in effect, be lying to the insurance company and they would audit the pharmacy and they would deny the pharmacy payment in the instances of incorrect prescription calculation of days supply, although this may not happen in every case.

We round DOWN because we want to calculate how many FULL DAYS of supply the medication will last the patient. Partial days are not something that is very valuable to our calculation.

So your oxycodone 5mg tablets will last 4 days.

Now, if we do go back and figure that you can only safely take 8 oxycodone 5mg per day, and your provider or prescriber listed the typical NTE 8 tabs per day, then your 56 pills, divided by a maximum of 8 tablets per day, would then equal a 7 days supply, which is a more common situation. If you meet with your provider weekly, on the same day each week, then this would seem to fit the situation even better. And this may be the case, I don't know and don't want to offer this as conjecture.

Thank you for your question!

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