Mailing prescription meds to France?

Old Aug 25th, 2010, 07:43 AM
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Mailing prescription meds to France?

My daughter's spending the fall semester in Paris, and I'd been assuming I could mail her precription to her. (Insurance company will only dole the meds out one month at a time.)

Now her abroad program says it's illegal to mail medicine. Really, in practical terms? I tried Walgreen's to see if I could transfer the Rx to them, but they don't have a presence in France per their customer service.

Any of you have experience with this?
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Old Aug 25th, 2010, 07:50 AM
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I assume she is insured whilst in France?
In which case can't she just take her prescription with her and have it dispensed there and paid for by the insurance. Chances are it is cheaper in France in any case.
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Old Aug 25th, 2010, 07:53 AM
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I do believe it's illegal to mail prescription meds. She can get them in France with her prescription, though, or take the prescription with her, visit a French doctor, and get a French prescription. Your insurance should cover this. Have done this a few times.
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Old Aug 25th, 2010, 08:15 AM
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Half the time she may just be able to get them without even seeing a French doctor ,depending on the drug. I bought my husband's glaucoma drops, HBP tablets and Zocor just by asking. I also was able to get my steroid nasal spray with no prescription.Have her take the written RXs , make sure they include the generic name of the drug as sosme drugs in France use different brand names
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Old Aug 25th, 2010, 08:16 AM
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BTW the copay on my Dh's eyedrops is $27.00 here. I paid 15 Euro in France!
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Old Aug 25th, 2010, 08:19 AM
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" Really, in practical terms? "

Absolutely.

ANYTHING, except paper, mailed across a real international border has to have at least a green customs declaration stuck on it. It's not quite as simple as "it's illegal to mail medicine": many countries allow drugs to be imported by mail, but require much more documentation than the tiny green sticker your post office will give you. Obviously, not all mail gets examined.

But lots goes through an x-ray, and an envelope with protuberances arriving in France from abroad without a green sticker is more likely to be inspected than a postcard of the Grand Canyon.

What are the chances? God knows: but whereas French customs officers have usually got better things to do than harrass arriving passengers on the off chance that packet of aspirin is really compressed cocaine, they're likely to be a lot more of a pain in the rear end if they interview your daughter about why she's receiving illegally smuggled drugs.
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Old Aug 25th, 2010, 08:33 AM
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My husband had that one-month-at-a-time problem with our insurance company. He called and spoke with a manager to explain that we would be out of the country for a couple of months, and the company removed the dispensing limit so that he could buy enough medication to get him through to our return date.

Another option, depending on the drug, is to order it from a pharmacy in Canada. You'd have to get a new written prescription from the doctor (to FAX to the pharmacy), but the pharmacy will fill the order all at once for how ever many doses the doctor prescribes. The cost may be cheaper than what you've been paying. This is the pharmacy I have used for a few years:

www.canadadrugsonline.com
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Old Aug 25th, 2010, 09:05 AM
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The issue isn't the doctor, it's the insurance. They don't want to pay for the prescription themself, apparently. If their insurer won't allow them more than one month at a time in the US, they won't in Canda, either.

I'd also take it to France and get it there.
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Old Aug 25th, 2010, 09:23 AM
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When we are traveling out of the country for an extended time we ask the pharmacy to call the insurance company for a "vacation lift" and then they will dispense the extra quantity to us before we leave home. Hopefully, your insurance comapny will do the sAME FOR HER.
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Old Aug 25th, 2010, 09:23 AM
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Nope: you can't mail prescription drugs. We found out about this when I left one at home and wanted to have our house-sitter mail them, but he found out at the post office that France does now allow importation of medications.

Then I called our travel insurance contact and was told to take a photocopy of the presription to a French doctor. Before I did that I stopped at a pharmacy and asked the pharmacist what the cost would be. To my surprise, he said that he could just fill the prescription, as it was for a standard maintenance medication (thyroid). So I got a month's supply for around $5.

French pharmacists have considerably more lattitude in despensing medications than those in the U.S.

An interesting fact: you can take mushrooms you pick in France to a pharmacy, and the pharmacist will evaluate them for safety.
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Old Aug 25th, 2010, 09:40 AM
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Boy, all of those viagra spam sites are going to be really upset when they discover they can mail to foreign destinations!

Frankly, why on earth would your daughter get her prescription from the U.S.? She must have health insurance that covers her presence in France, and medicine is about 75% cheaper here, so I certainly can't imagine the insurance company opposing her getting the stuff in Paris.
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Old Aug 25th, 2010, 09:41 AM
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...when they discover they can't mail...
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Old Aug 25th, 2010, 09:59 AM
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My daughter was able to get her one/month Rx ban lifted in order to take them with her when she went to France. Ask the pharmacy to make the call and see what happens.
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Old Aug 25th, 2010, 11:24 AM
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Oh, my! Thanks so much, everyone. Getting in to see the MD here was such a lengthy and unpleasant process, even with my hotshot insurance, that doing it all over again there seemed more daunting than maybe baking up a batch of brownies and inserting a few capsules into each one. (Little joke, customs people. Just kidding.)

At that, having my daughter hauled in for international drug smuggling might be even worse. I really appreciate all your insights. You have helped me rethink it.
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Old Aug 25th, 2010, 11:57 AM
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Most prescription drug plans do have a 90-day mail in program. And, you can refill after two months, so can "stock up" if you start far enough ahead. And, you should be able to acquire a "vacation" or other sort of waiver. Call the customer service number on your card.
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Old Aug 25th, 2010, 12:51 PM
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Our experience buying from a Canadian pharmacy is that for some drugs the cost to us is cheaper through the Canadian pharmacy without insurance than in U.S. with insurance. So, for those drugs, our insurance rules have nothing to do with the purchase because the company doesn't even know about the transaction. We can buy whatever amount the prescription is written for. If it's one month with five refills, we can buy six months all at once.

But I think asking the insurance company to temporarily lift the dispensing limit is the easiest way to go, especially if you don't want to deal with the doctor's office again.
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Old Aug 25th, 2010, 01:45 PM
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For refilling three months at a time, you can obtain a fax form to mail/drop off at the doctor's office. Or, just phone them. Most are now connected electronically to the prescription plan companies.
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Old Aug 26th, 2010, 09:24 AM
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It is amazing what you can wheedle out of a French pharmacy without a prescription. I work for a Middle Eastern company where top managers sometimes send requests for medicine without providing a prescription. I have been sent to the pharmacy sometimes and told things like "I can only give you 10 boxes or I'll get in trouble." -- naturally the people in question are often requesting 50 boxes of questionable items.

Frankly, I have been somewhat horrified at how easily you can get prescription drugs without a prescription. (Probably not methadone, however!)

This summer, though, I was happy that when you are on file in the computer for certain items, they will give them to you without a prescription. My doctor left on vacation before I could see him to get my standard stuff renewed, and the pharmacy just handed it to me after checking their screen. (And even after all these years, I am still surprised to be handed boxes of stuff without being asked for even one euro. French health insurance plus my company mutual coverage automatically pay 100% of just about everything. Since it is already registered at the pharmacy, I never pay for anything.)
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Old Jul 28th, 2014, 10:22 AM
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These answers are all fine a good but sometimes your medications cost $1000s of Euros are not available. Such is my case. I brought a 4 months' supply but needed more and now I find out I can't get my meds. It is not covered by social security insurance I have over here. The med is wildly expensive so I can't pay for it out of pocket.

Anyone have any experience in this case?


OH, for those traveling you can safely carry a 3 month supply just have your name on the bottles and a letter from your doctor.
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Old Jul 29th, 2014, 06:43 AM
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BCNLucca, I think more explanations are needed.

"medications cost $1000s of Euros" : cost in which country?
"are not available": not available in which country?
"I can't get my meds. It is not covered by social security insurance": Are you talking about US brand med or an equivalent med in Europe?
"med is wildly expensive": expensive in which country?

"I can't pay for it out of pocket.": Are you talking about the same medication where it is "not available" or rather "I can't pay for it?"
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