If You Lost Medicine While Traveling, What Should You Do?

April 7, 2015 in Travel Health  •  By Miles Varn
replacing lost medication

Whether you’re travelling across the country to visit family or across the globe for business, it’s smart to have a plan in place in case you need medical care. That’s especially true if you use medication to help manage a chronic health condition such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Preparations Before You Travel

Before your trip, ask your doctor for a copy of prescriptions of all medicines you take regularly and carry them in your wallet or carry-on bag. You should also put your prescription medicines in your carry-on so you’ll have them if you need them on a long flight or if your checked luggage gets lost.

Especially when travelling overseas, it’s wise to keep medications in their original prescription bottles. For injectable medications and medications that fall into the category of controlled substances, such as certain pain medications, sleeping pills, ADHD medications, and medications for treatment of anxiety and depression, ask your doctor to provide you with a letter on his or her stationery that verifies your need for the prescription. If you’re travelling to an overseas destination you’ve never visited before, check with the American Consulate or Embassy to find out if you can bring your medications with you. Some countries do not allow visitors to bring certain drugs with them.

Drug names and dosages can vary from country to country, so ask your pharmacist or doctor to provide you with the generic names for all prescriptions and over the counter medications you take regularly so that you know what to ask for if you need to fill a prescription while you’re travelling.

You Forgot Your Medication. What Should You Do?

If you forget or lose your medications while travelling, they can be difficult to replace. In the U.S., you can call your doctor’s office and ask for a refill to be faxed or called into a pharmacy at your destination, though that can be difficult on weekends and after office hours.

Replacing forgotten or lost medicine while traveling out of the country can be a bit more complicated. On a trip to China, after landing in Beijing, one of our members found that none of the medications she took regularly were in her suitcase.

“I wasn’t sure if I had left them at home, if they were confiscated by airport security or stolen from my bag,” she explained. “Whatever the reason, I was absolutely panic-stricken and decided to call the PinnacleCare Health Advisor Hotline. The on-call health advisor told me I would have to be seen by a local doctor in China before I could receive any replacement medications. She quickly added that she would make all of the necessary arrangements. As promised, the advisor scheduled me an appointment with a Canadian doctor in Beijing the next morning. I loved the doctor and got the medications I needed. I don’t know what I would have done without my advisor’s help!”

Find out more about how a personal health advisor can help you get the medical care and support you need anywhere in the world.