THE WEEKLY HERALD   EVERETT, WASHINGTON
Published: Wednesday, May 2, 2012

How to pack prescriptions when traveling

YOUR HEALTH | By Katie Murdoch
Herald writer
A little careful planning – and preparing for the worst – can help travelers toting prescription medications move through airline security and see that vacation go more smoothly.
To start, the best place to carry prescriptions while on vacation is with yourself, either in a purse or a carry-on, said Dr. Anny Soon, an internal medicine physician for Swedish/Edmonds.
Further, packing a list of medications, the dosage and the doctor’s and pharmacy’s contact information should certainly be checked off the packing list.
“First and foremost people should keep medications on their person,” Soon said.
If someone loses their medication while on vacation domestically, or realizes they forgot their medicine, it will make it a lot easier to contact the physician to have a prescription called in or faxed to a local pharmacy, Soon advises.
Travelers also should pack enough needed medication for the trip plus extra, ranging between three days to one week, in case traveling goes longer than expected, she said.
“But keep the backup in a separate location,” she added.
Tightened airline scrutiny might call for a doctor’s note vouching for medications that can make security wary, including injectables and prescription painkillers, she said.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends bringing a doctor’s note on the physician’s letterhead when carrying prescription painkillers and injectables.
Keep in mind certain medications aren’t allowed in certain countries. If that situation arises, particularly with controlled substances, the note can be helpful. Travelers can plan ahead for these restrictions by contacting the embassy or consulate of the country to which they’re traveling.
Most forms of prescription medications won’t come as a shock to airline security officials.
All medications, in any form or type, such as pills or injectables, and associated supplies, such as syringes or infusers, are allowed through security checkpoints after being screened, according to the Transportation Security Administration website. Atropens, auto-injections used to treat emergencies such as low heart rate and breathing problems, also are allowed. TSA officials don’t require medications to be labeled but recommend it to speed screening.
For those who would prefer to nix the X-ray machine, travelers can request to have their medications visually inspected instead. However, travelers have to request this option before the screening process begins and officials can screen through X-ray if the visual inspection doesn’t suffice.
Prescription medications are just some of the items the CDC recommends travelers put in a “travel health kit.” Also consider antibiotics, over-the-counter meds to treat such ailments as diarrhea, sunscreen, insect repellent and alcohol-based hand gel.
What to pack
A sample of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s suggestions for a “travel health kit”:
• Prescription medicines you usually take, including epinephrine auto-injector if using
• Special prescriptions for the trip, such as those to prevent malaria or treat diarrhea
• Over-the-counter medicines, such as cough drops, antihistamine and a mild laxative
• Supplies to prevent illness or injury, such as sunscreen and eye drops
• Bandages, aloe gel and other first-aid supplies
• Health insurance card
• Other items that may be useful in certain circumstances, such as sleep aids
Special notes about prescription medicines:
• Pack prescription medications in carry-on luggage.
• Pack copies of all prescriptions, including the generic names for medications.
• Pack a note on letterhead stationery from the prescribing physician for controlled substances and injectable medications.
• Leave a copy of your prescriptions at home with a friend or relative.
• For international travel, check with the American embassy or consulate to make sure that your medicines will be allowed.
Source: CDC, www.cdc.gov