Traveling with prescription drugs is a simple process, provided you pack your medicines properly and nothing happens to them. Sometimes, however, prescriptions are lost, stolen or simply forgotten. Replacing your prescription drugs can be a time-consuming process, but it certainly can be done.
Here are some things to consider when traveling with prescription drugs.
You will need enough doses of each of your prescription drugs to last for your entire trip, plus several extra doses in case you are delayed while traveling. Talk with your doctor if you need help getting enough doses to last through your vacation. If you take any over-the-counter medications, be sure you have enough of them on hand, too. Be sure to bring your doctor's and pharmacist's telephone numbers with you on your trip.
Carry all of your prescription drugs in their original containers, even if you normally use a weekly or monthly pill dispenser box. You may be asked to prove that you are the patient entitled to each prescription, and the original container will be accepted as proof. You can always bring your pill dispenser with you and set it up when you reach your destination.
If you are traveling by air, train or bus, keep all of your prescription drugs with you in your carry-on bag. There are two reasons to keep your medications with you. First, theft does happen, and you will lose valuable travel time replacing your drugs if they are stolen. Second, many medications need to be stored in temperature-controlled environments. Cargo holds are typically much warmer in summer and much cooler in winter than the passenger compartment of your airplane, train or bus.
If your travel plans take you across one or more time zones, you may need to change the time you take your medications each day. Talk with your doctor and create a dosage schedule. Better yet, ask your doctor to sign off on a medication record form so that you have official documentation of all of the drugs you take.
Some travelers must take their prescription drugs precisely on schedule, regardless of time zone. If you are in this category, purchase a multi-time zone watch or alarm clock to help you track your dosage times.
If you have Internet access while you travel, consider setting up a medication dosage reminder, perhaps through Microsoft Outlook or via the MyMedSchedule.com website. You may even be able to have dosage reminders sent to your mobile phone.
Documentation of Prescriptions
The best way, by far, to prove that your prescription drugs belong to you is to bring with you not only the prescriptions in their original containers but also a prescription from your doctor or health care provider. A copy of your personal medical record form, signed by your doctor, will further establish your requirement for the prescription drugs you carry.
If you are traveling far from home, you might want to ask your doctor for a new prescription form for all of the medications you take, just in case the prescription medications you are carrying are lost or stolen. Ask your doctor to write each prescription on a separate form, as some pharmacies will not fill just one prescription on a multi-prescription form.
Because pharmacies use computerized systems that track how many doses they have sold to you for each prescription and impose refill limits on your prescriptions, getting an emergency refill while on vacation can be very difficult.
If your prescriptions are on file with a national chain and you are still within the borders of your home country, you should be able to go to a local branch of the pharmacy and have your prescription temporarily transferred to that location.
You may find yourself in a situation where you have to refill your prescription at a pharmacy that is not part of your health care network, either because you are overseas or because there is no local branch of your pharmacy nearby. In this situation, you will probably have to pay the full cost of the prescription, then file a claim form when you return home. Be sure to save your receipts and all other documentation to submit with your claim.
If you normally use a military pharmacy and did not bring an emergency prescription form written by your doctor with you on your trip, you will need to contact your doctor and ask that a new prescription be faxed to the pharmacy at your vacation location. Most US military pharmacies will not fill your prescription at a location other than your home pharmacy unless you are active duty.
In some states, such as Florida and Texas, pharmacists are permitted to issue emergency refills for a 72-hour supply of medication without contacting your doctor. In case of natural disaster, you may be able to get up to a 30-day supply, even if the dispensing pharmacist cannot contact your doctor.