Taking meds and OTCs out of the US

Dec 23rd, 2013, 05:02 PM
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Taking meds and OTCs out of the US

My husband and I plan on going to Europe for 3 weeks in Spring 2014. I’m on medications and doctor-recommended OTCs, mostly to counter side-effects of the meds.

I will be getting a printout from my pharmacy of current meds before leaving, and they’ve already said they’d get me extras so I don’t run out mid-trip.

Do I have to take the meds in their bottles? There’s 5 of them and we’ll just be using carry-ons.

For the OTCs, there’s 4 of them and some are big tablets. I already know that not taking them for 3 weeks is not a good idea for me. I would think that having baggies of pills in my luggage would look odd. Can I just put them in those weekly pill containers?
propita is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2013, 05:08 PM
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Better to keep them in the original bottles. Chances are nobody will look but better safe than sorry. It would also be wise to have a letter from your doctor noting the meds you are carrying. My doc does this for a 35 dollar fee.
ParisAmsterdam is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2013, 05:59 PM
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What officials are interested in pills in a quantity that's obviously for personal use?.. TSA checks for items that may threaten air safety, so they won't scrutinize a handful of tablets. Customs inspectors in Europe are concerned with imports for resale. Pack the pills in the way you always do, but be sure to take the printed list --it will be invaluable if you need emergency medical care or if you just lose pills down the drain and need to get replacements. Narcotics might best be kept in original bottles, though. I can't see that a doctor's note would be of any value --anyone with a computer and printer can create one.
kayd is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2013, 08:52 PM
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No reason to take the original containers. The TSA website merely suggests original labels but says original containers aren't necessary.

You can put everything in those weekly pill organizers w/o any special documentation.

And no need for a letter from you doctor - unless you are taking some heavy duty narcotics. Every customs agent everywhere will know what your meds are on sight (and that is only IF you are pulled out for special inspection, which almost certainly won't happen.

Relax and enjoy your trip.
janisj is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2013, 10:49 PM
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Having been abroad many times, not once has anyone asked about meds. In fact I always try to pack light so rather than take several bottles I keep whatever pills can be mixed safely in an Advil bottle with a sticker on the side describing each pill and its use (not daily meds). Others like Cipro and nausea meds stay in their own prescription bottle. And yet, never a question.
Toucan is offline  
Dec 24th, 2013, 12:36 AM
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Are you asking about regulatory issues or personal conveniences?
Nobody at European airports showed even a hint of interest in my prescription or OTC medicines. Having an original bottle, however, had its convenience personally. I had to have medicines refilled and having the original bottle (or label) made it easier for the pharmacist to find the exact equivalent. Unless you are transiting Asian or Middle Eastern airports with strict stimulant prohibitions, I think the only entity interested in your medicine is yours truly US Customs on your return home.
greg is offline  
Dec 24th, 2013, 02:58 AM
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My husband and I take prescription labels but package all of our daily meds in tiny ziplocs. We get them at our local drug store where they sell the containers for weekly use.

I put the little ziplocs and the labels in a quart ziploc in my carry-on.....takes up very little space and I've never been questioned about it.
Judy is online now  
Dec 24th, 2013, 03:08 AM
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My mother used to carry a dr's letter but that was only because one of her drugs was restricted (pethidine) and she had permission from the Health Dept here to have it in her possession. Otherwise I doubt it's necessary.
cathies is online now  
Dec 24th, 2013, 04:01 AM
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No one cares if you are taking meds for your personal use - UNLESS they are controlled substances. If any are the latter I would leave them in the original container. Otherwise carrying in a day by day plastic box with the remainder in small containers so you can identify them should be fine.

Caveat: If you are taking a lot of pills (I have an acquaintance who takes about 20 supplements a day - who knows why) that might be looked at - and I would have information ready
nytraveler is offline  
Dec 24th, 2013, 07:11 AM
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Hi P,

We take our pharmacy list of Rxs and put them and all of our other nostrums into ziplock bags.

Enjoy your trip.

ira is offline  
Dec 24th, 2013, 07:23 AM
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DH takes 18 medications. They are in a weekly pill box. No one has ever even looked at it. Carried in his carryon--no quart bag.
Gretchen is online now  
Dec 24th, 2013, 08:30 AM
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I’m so sorry for your DH, Gretchen!

One of mine is thyroid. If I want to stay awake and be able to think, it MUST come with me. Aargh! Getting the right dosage was a bad process.
propita is offline  
Dec 24th, 2013, 09:00 AM
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Sorry - wrong thread
janisj is offline  
Dec 24th, 2013, 09:12 AM
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There's common practic and there is the law. They often don't match.

While I agree the chances of anyone even looking at your pills is very low, the only real question is 'what if they do'? Comments re, 'no one cares' are of no use to you whatsover if someone does care.

Did you know it is not even legal for you to drive to the airport in the USA with your prescription drugs not in the original container? Here is one woman's experience:

Free advice is worth just what you paid for it propita. If you are travelling with prescription drugs I would carry them in their original container. I doubt very much that anyone here knows just what every single Customs Officer in every country in Europe will consider worth questioning you about.

When someone says, 'I've done it many times and never been stopped', they need to realize that the plural of 'anecdotal evidence' is not data.

You can if you want take the risk based on the most likely according to anecdotal evidence here outcome. The risk may be very small but it is important to know there is some risk of being hassled at least. Make your decision based on facts, not supposition.
dulciusexasperis is offline  
Dec 24th, 2013, 09:32 AM
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Truly everything we do is about managing risk. When leaving home for a fabulous trip abroad I always purchase travel insurance, set the home alarm and buckle up on the way to the airport. Those are risks worth managing. Worrying about the 1/100 of 1% chance some wacko customs officer somewhere in Europe will question me for having small quantities of personal pills is not.
Toucan is offline  
Dec 24th, 2013, 09:48 AM
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Exactly, Toucan!
Judy is online now  
Dec 24th, 2013, 09:51 AM
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True, Toucan, but if one is a worrier by nature...one reduces potential sources of worry. I’d rather just avoid the possibility of problem.

Since our vacation will be 3 weeks, I won’t mind the labeled bottles. I keep the meds in them at home. The OTCs can be in weekly pill containers, as at home.

All good.
propita is offline  
Dec 24th, 2013, 11:47 AM
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Geeze - there are people who actually take meds overseas - and there are folks who just like to lecture.

I'd rely on the actual TSA website . . . It even mentions those weekly organizers and baggies for meds.

But your choice. If you get your meds in three month supplies the bottles will be pretty large . . .
janisj is offline  
Dec 24th, 2013, 01:31 PM
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True Toucan, you are free to take that risk if you choose to do so. All I said was know the risks before deciding. There is that .001% chance if that is what the number actually is.

Janisj, go back to posting links to zoos. The TSA does not speak for the Customs of every country.

dulciusexasperis is offline  

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