If you need to take specific medications with you while you’re traveling abroad, there are a number of precautions you need to take. Certain countries not only restrict some prescription drugs, but also a number of over the counter medications. With some simple planning, you should be able to manage your medications abroad.
The most important thing to do is take enough medication for your entire trip, including extra in case your return is delayed. If you are delayed, you may not be able to obtain your medication in a timely manner. Not every drug available in the US is easily acceptable in other countries. Do not keep your medication in your checked bags. If your luggage is lost or delayed, you may not get your medication. By keeping your medication with you, you also know it is in a temperature controlled climate (which is an issue for some drugs). I have a friend who keeps her medication with her at all times during transit; on planes, trains and on the seat with her in cabs. Her comment is, “you never know what will happen.”
Find out if the country you are visiting has any restrictions on what type of amount of medications you are allowed to bring into the country. Your doctor may be able to help you, but I suggest you contact the embassy or consulate of the country you are visiting to be sure. The State Department has a list you can use. Japan, for example prohibits drugs that contain Pseudoephedrine (in Actifed and Sudafed) or Codeine.
When packing your medications, keep them in the original packaging, with the name of the pharmacy and prescribing physician. If the medication is in a box, you can flatten it, and keep it with the medications. Bring a note from your doctor as well. You could be questioned about your medication. Some countries require documentation on drugs brought into the country. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for the generic name for medication on the off chance you have to purchase medicine abroad. This will simplify the process when dealing with pharmacies in other countries.
Check with your insurer to see what level of coverage you have abroad. Most US health care policies only cover an emergency room visits. Medicare does not provide coverage outside the US. Regardless of your medical coverage, it makes sense to purchase travel insurance. Not only will it cover the huge cost of medical evacuation if you need it, you’ll have the piece of mind knowing that if your medications are lost or stolen, you have 24/7 live medical support from On Call International. They can help coordinate getting a prescription transferred from your doctor to a local pharmacy, or help find you a doctor that can give you a prescription. With the right travel insurance, if you need more medicine, or have a reaction to your medicine, there will be someone available to help you. You also won’t need to worry about language issues at a pharmacy or hospital – your travel insurance provides that service.