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Prescription Medication While Traveling
Posted: Aug 7th, 2019 at 12:00AM
You're likely already aware of the dangers of traveling with illegal substances — that's a no-brainer. Did you know, though, certain destinations will punish you with fines and even imprisonment if you're caught with certain prescription medications? Yes, traveling with medicine prescribed by a doctor might be against the law, depending on where you're going. Making the waters even murkier is there are some over-the-counter medicines that could land you in trouble, too, like flu medicine and cold tablets.
Some of the countries it's happening in are popular destinations — like Dubai and Egypt — making it even more important for travelers to familiarize themselves with the specific government they're dealing with and make sure they read the ingredients in their medicine to ensure none of them are illegal.
So, what medicines should you be cautious of packing, and for which destinations? Here are a few examples of countries where the laws and regulations are different, and specifically how they're unique. Prepare for your vacation well in advance by ensuring you'll have access to any medicine you'll need while you're away — whether it's prescription or over-the-counter.
If you're headed to Japan, you might want to reconsider taking anti-stimulant drugs. This might include common over-the-counter medicines like anti-cold and flu tablets, inhalers, and allergy medicine. Watch out for codeine, specifically.
Are you taking medication for conditions like ADHD or sleeping problems? How about anything made with codeine? Check with the Indonesian government before packing these in your luggage.
United Arab Emirates and Greece
While they aren't banned, medications containing tramadol, codeine, and diazepam are considered controlled drugs in the UAE and Greece, meaning they carry certain restrictions that travelers need to abide by.
Sleeping pills, anti-anxiety medicine, and painkillers — all things you can easily obtain over-the-counter or with a prescription in the United States — require a license in Singapore. Also important to note? They don’t necessarily carry all the same prescribed drugs we do, and drugs that are over-the-counter here might require a prescription there. Plan accordingly.
Like Singapore, make sure you pack sufficient medicine, because whatever you’re prescribed in the United States might not be available in China.
If you're used to purchasing over-the-counter cold and cough medicines, be aware these are considered controlled substances in Qatar and require a prescription to obtain.
As you can see, even the most run-of-the-mill medicine in the United States might be heavily regulated or even banned elsewhere.
Even though being caught illegally carrying a substance in a foreign country could potentially land you behind bars, possibly as little as one-third of travelers are seeking guidance when it comes to which medications they can safely and legally bring to their destinations. While you can certainly do your own research online, there's a lot of information to learn, and this might be something best left to a professional.
Get to a Travel Medicine Clinic Before Your Vacation
This is where a travel medicine consultation comes in. During a travel medicine consultation, you'll meet with a specialist who is already familiar with your destination and everything you need to prepare for before going there. They'll know the specifics of the laws and regulations, and they can help you prepare accordingly so you're not caught off-guard.
They'll also be able to educate you on any health or safety concerns related to the weather, food and water, insects, animals, altitude, and crowded tourist destinations. These are factors many travelers don't consider, and it can end up affecting their health.
Don't wait until the last minute to do this. You should plan for a travel consultation approximately four to six weeks before you depart. Start by contacting one of your local travel vaccination centers and scheduling an appointment.
On a related note, this person will also be able to tell you if there are any special vaccines you'll need which are required by your destination country, or ones that aren't required but you should get regardless. This is something else you need to be prepared for, because international travel can introduce you to viruses you might not be exposed to in the United States. Getting vaccinated is crucial not only to your own health but also the health of those around you.
Once again, it's impotant to do this a couple months in advance, at the very least. This is because some vaccines need to be administered in a series. This isn't something you can rush. Getting vaccinated at the last minute won't protect you in the way that you need it.
If you still don't believe that getting to a travel medicine clinic is necessary, just look at the measles outbreak that the United States is currently experiencing. This happened because travelers brought it over from other countries, and it could have been prevented. When you get vaccinated, you protect not only yourself but everyone else around you. This means you help reinforce your community's herd immunity. There are people who aren't physically able to get vaccinated — like infants and the elderly — and it's our responsibility to help keep them safe.
You do this by getting your shots so that you can't be a carrier of any dangerous diseases.
There's a lot to remember, and planning for a trip is hard enough already. Don't try to tackle all these details on your own. Contact e7 Health today for help with planning your next international trip. We're travel medicine experts, and our clinicians will make sure you're safe and protected before your next big trip. We always carry even very rare vaccines in office, so you can get them on the spot. This is something other clinics don't always offer.
We'll work with you based on your destination(s) to ensure that no matter what activities you engage in on your trip, illness will stay away from you, your loved ones, and the people around you.
Ready to get started? Contact us today to set up an appointment at one of our locations in Chicago or Las Vegas.
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