Host: Captain Mary Kremzner
Pharmacist: Lieutenant Lindsay Davison
CAPT Kremzner: Traveling with prescription medications. How can you avoid travel delays upon arrival to, and departure from, the United States? That’s a question patients often ask their local pharmacist or the FDA.
Hi, I’m Captain Mary Kremzner and this is Drug Info Rounds, brought to you by the pharmacists in FDA’s Division of Drug Information.
I asked Lieutenant Lindsay Davison to outline key points pharmacists should counsel their patients on prior to travel. Let’s start by reviewing key precautions that travelers with prescription medications should know.
LT Davison: The first precaution is that patients should not assume that prescription medications that are approved in one country are approved in another. Travelers coming into the U.S. should be aware that their products may be illegal here. The same applies to travelers leaving for other countries. They should contact the country they are traveling to for advice.
The second is to be aware that the approved indications for use may not be the same. Just as the medication itself may not be approved in another country, the approved indication for use may differ as well.
The third is to have information with you about your prescription medications. Travelers should be aware that in the event they require medical attention, treatment could be delayed or made more difficult without sufficient information available about the product. This includes the brand and generic name of the product, the dosage form and strength, and how often it is used.
CAPT Kremzner: Will you review some of the resources for travelers with prescription medications?
LT Davison: A Travelers Alert is posted on FDA’s website with useful information. This Alert lists two other agencies that offer advice to travelers: U.S. Customs and Border Protection, also known as CBP, and the Drug Enforcement Administration, or DEA. CBP offers advice on their website for traveling with prescription medications and medical devices, such as oxygen tanks. They recommend:
- Prescription medications should be in their original containers with the doctor's prescription printed on the container.
- Travel with no more than personal use quantities, a rule of thumb is no more than a 90 day supply.
- If your medications or devices are not in their original containers, you should have a copy of your prescription with you or a letter from your doctor,
- And a valid prescription or doctor’s note is required for all medications entering the U.S.
CBP can be reached by email for medication questions not answered on their website.
DEA enforces regulations for controlled substances in Schedules II through V, in the Code of Federal Regulations. This is also available on their website. DEA provides contact information to local Field Offices online.
CAPT Kremzner: What about the Transportation Security Administration?
LT Davison: Great point! The TSA posts information for travelers who need medication on their website. Passengers are allowed to bring medications in tablet or other solid form through security screening checkpoints, as long as they are screened. Passengers should inform officers of medications and separate them from other belongings before screening begins. Medication is usually screened by X-ray; however, if a passenger does not want a medication X-rayed, they may ask for an inspection instead.
Questions related to carrying prescription medications in luggage versus carry-on baggage should also be directed to TSA.
CAPT Kremzner: This clears up a lot of questions that patients have for pharmacists about traveling with their prescription medications. If you have questions, call or email FDA’s Division of Drug Information.