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How to Replace a Prescription Abroad

It can be tough to find the medications you need while traveling, but here are a few tips.

pill box with days of the week, image
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Avoid hassles with prescriptions when you travel and take your own medications.

The best place to get a prescription drug abroad is from your own bag, says Michael Lynch, director of the Fresno International Travel Medicine Center. To sail through customs, bring a letter from your doctor listing your medications.

Also check whether your destination has any medication restrictions. Japan, for example, prohibits any products containing pseudoephedrine or codeine.

You can likely replace lost meds at a pharmacy. But pharmacies in industrialized countries generally require a prescription from a local doc. For a list of legit doctors, check the U.S. embassy website for that country.

Pharmacies in developing countries often sell prescription drugs, no questions asked, but “a lot of medications in those countries are counterfeit,” Lynch says. Your best bet: Keep your pillbox safe.

This article was first published in July 2014. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.