Travel with Medications in Original Containers

I recently saw a tip from someone advising you to put your medications in those convenient daily containers when going on trips to avoid carrying the medicine bottles. I would strongly advise that you not do this! Not everyone knows that it is illegal to carry medicine out of its original container and if you get stopped by the police, they can charge you with carrying contraband. This message should be printed on all packages containing these daily medicine containers.

By lilfaith from Murray, KY

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July 22, 20100 found this helpful

That is very good advice! I would like to add, to please don't bring those with you to the ER, and show the nurse, saying 'this is what I take'', a pharmacist would have a hard time deciphering what everything is!

Thanks for the heads up, nothing ruins a vacation like a run in with the law!

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July 24, 20100 found this helpful

Excellent advise and true pertaining to law enforcement being able to add an unnecessary drug charge. Also great advise from fatboyslimsmom.

Thanks for sharing.

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July 24, 20100 found this helpful

Aside from the legal aspects of this, it also makes sense to do this since any trip to the emergency room or hospital stay means you need your current list of medications and generics vary in appearances and cannot be identified without much difficulty.

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July 24, 20100 found this helpful

I always carry my medicine in their original bottles because I figure if something happens they have my doctor's name, and the drug store where I get my medicine. All this is on the label of each medicine. I also carry a paper in my wallet with all my medicines I take and when I take each one. I also have a copy of that sheet on the side of my refrigerator and on file on my computer. I update it whenever I change or get another medicine. This helps my family.

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July 24, 20100 found this helpful

This is a very good tip to share to make people aware to be careful, however, as long as you have proof of your prescription medications with you it is not illegal but rather considered a technicality to carry outside of it's prescription container (which can be a large bulky box for a month supply and you only need a few of with you - believe me I know about bulky because 'just one' of my prescriptions for a 15 day supply comes in a ridiculously large box that is about 9 inches x 7 inches x 2 inches).

Everyone is given a pharmaceutical brochure with the patient, doctor and drug info on it when purchasing a prescription. All you need to do is make sure you keep that current proof with you.

Carrying your proof with you also includes daily rescue breathing inhalers for those who have any type of COPD (including Asthma) because they are also considered contraband without prescription proof. I don't know one single person who carries their inhaler in it's original bulky container with them every day of their life whether on a trip or not.

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July 24, 20100 found this helpful

Thanks for the info! I always put my meds in a daily container when traveling ~ never gave a thought to all the problems mentioned that could occur. MY husband is leaving on a trip tomorrow and you can be sure NOW I will make sure they are in their original containers. Thank you

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June 22, 20110 found this helpful

Thank you for passing along a very good hint!

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June 22, 20110 found this helpful

Evfen if it is not illegal, if there were an accident, how would anyone know what you are taking and how many times a day if the meds were loose in a jar? They couldn't even call your doctor because they would have no address.

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June 22, 20110 found this helpful

Everyone on medication should carry a list on their person. My husband gets his meds in a 3 month supply; would hate to carry that on an airline. I understand you are not allowed to take all that much with you and each should be placed in a see through plastic quart size bag, just how much you need for that trip.

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June 22, 20110 found this helpful

Great post lilfaith! I live just down the road from you in Wingo! It's always a great idea to have your medication bottles with you for all your information, especially with certain conditions such as diabetes and heart conditions! Thanks for posting!

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June 22, 20110 found this helpful

Hi, we were told this by friends of ours because we travel a lot. So I called our police station here and they laughed at me . No such law here. When traveling abroad you may need them. Thanks, lll St. Cloud , MN

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June 22, 20110 found this helpful

This is very good advice; I was surprised the first time I heard how much trouble you can have when carrying unidentified meds.

Here's a suggestion for pills & capsules that come in plastic bottles; I have found that the Rx label is usually peelable & will come off in one piece if you peel slowly & carefully. You can save small empty bottles for trips; then peel the label from your current Rx & put it on a small bottle & put enough pills for the trip in that bottle. Use a separate small bottle for each medicine. This way you can reduce a bit the total bulk of the bottles you take with you. Be sure to write the contents, dose, etc. on the original bottle so you don't mix those up later. I have little bottles from short term Rx like antibiotics or vet meds, which I wash & dry & reuse for other things, like this.

I automatically memorize all my meds, including name, size, dose, etc., but I also have a card in my purse with the complete list, including any allergies I have, which I update when necessary. If I were unconscious or dazed & unable to recite my meds, someone could get the card from my purse.

It's very important to carry a list with you all the time; in an emergency the doctors need to know what you take to avoid interactions, allergic reactions, etc. I'm going to put a list on my refrigerator, too, thanks to a suggestion here in the feedback, in case I need help when I'm home. I'm also going to give a list to my cousin & a trusted neighbor who also has copies of my keys; they are my "In Case of Emergency" (ICE) contacts.

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June 22, 20110 found this helpful

As an EMT, CMT and pharmacy tech, I "have" to butt in here. Please please keep them in the original containers. Many meds look similar and one could easily be mistaken for another if you were in an accident or got ill.

If the size of the original container that contains a 30 day supply is too big for your trip, your pharmacy will help you! Just tell them you are going to be gone for 7 days, and to please package a 10 day supply in small bottles with labels. Most will do this at no charge. I recommend you always pack 3 extra days worth. Why? What if you drop a pill down a sink, or somewhere where it is filthy or can not be recovered. Or, what if you get flu or a migraine and have to stay on an extra day (that happened to me once, I spent 24 hours in a rest stop puking...)

As for the PD that laughed at someone. I bet their narcotics officers were not laughing. It is a Federal law that controlled substances or narcotics be in original containers. That includes all prescriptions that start with a C or N before the number. If the PD isn't aware of a Federal law, that doesn't say much about them. They gave you wrong information. Are you sure you were even talking to a cop, and not a dispatcher or office staff?

Also, if your med bottle says take 1 time a day, or 3 times a day, write on a piece of masking tape the times of day you take it and tape that to the backside of the bottle, such as noon, morning, 8am,1200 and 1800. Use military time to avoid confusion for am and pm. In the event that EMS is used, they can tell you did or didn't take or pass the time to take your medicine. For meds such as insulin, this information is very very imperative.

More than once, when I worked in a pharmacy we had policeman bring in unidentified pills in unmarked containers asking what they were. If the pill was a heart pill, fine, but if the person had a prescribed pain pill or something controlled then the persons doctor and home pharmacy had to be called to verify it. Was so so sad when the cops would bring in the person with them and it was a senior citizen. Such embarrassment for them.

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June 23, 20110 found this helpful

No, no, no. I did that going to Japan and my luggage was held up for two days, the capsules had been opened, I suffered two days of withdrawal and then had to p/up those little "pebbles" and try to refill capsules. I figured the damage was done so didn't worry about my return. Well, Homeland Security kept the luggage, broke the lock, ditto with the remaining meds. Now I count out all my meds with a couple of days extra, divide them into AM and PM, put a note of what and how many right inside the capsule (I save large empties) and carry them (and my husband's) in my purse. I always carry a list of current meds in my wallet.

I have not had any further problems (but my subsequent travel has been domestic, not international). This system may not work for everyone but I take 9 AM meds and 6 PM so obviously had to devise carry system other than carrying individual vials.

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December 20, 20110 found this helpful

Just have the name and phone number of your pharmacy on the container. They will verify the meds that way. It's no big deal.

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January 26, 20150 found this helpful

I have also discovered that if you one of your pills comes loose and you can't figure out what it is, all you have to do is type into your computer the color, shape and the number on the pill. It will tell you exactly what the pill and dosage is.

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