What to do if you forgot to bring your prescription medication while traveling

Prescription medications are an essential part of your packing list when traveling. However, bringing them can take a bit of preparation.

Before leaving, contact your doctor to ensure that your medications are available for the duration of your trip. You can travel with most medications – remember to leave them in the prescription bottle or have the prescription note.

“It’s also beneficial to have an up-to-date list from your pharmacy with descriptions of each of your medications on hand, as medications may have different names depending on the country you’re traveling to,” Dr. Kavita Desaipharmacist and founder of a health and wellness company Revive.

If you are traveling by air, liquid medications are limited to travel size 3.4 ounce containers in the United States if you have it in your hand luggage. Many pediatric prescriptions need to be refrigerated, so bring ice packs if you’re packing children’s medications, said Dr. Neela Sethi Young, pediatrician and co-founder of scrub brand Jaanuu..

In the middle of your vacation preparations, it’s normal for the medication to slip through your fingers. If you realize while traveling that you have forgotten your medication, it is important that you act quickly to avoid gaps in your prescription regimen.

“Do your best to avoid abruptly stopping your medications,” Sethi Young said. “It can have serious health effects.”

Also, make sure you don’t change your medication or take something in its place―for example, an over-the-counter drug or another medication―as this can also put your health at risk.

Here’s what you can do to retrieve forgotten medications if you’re away from home.

Contact your doctor’s office immediately.

Once you realize you forgot a medicine, contact the doctor who prescribed it. Try to call their office or send a message through your patient portal as soon as possible.

“Your doctor’s office may be able to fax or email a note from your last medical visit or a summary of your medical condition and medications with dosage instructions,” Desai said.

If you are traveling to the United States, they may even be able to transfer your prescription to a pharmacy near you.

If you cannot reach your doctor, contact your home pharmacy.

The pharmacy where you pick up your prescription has a record of your medications.

So if you’re unable to get in touch with your doctor, contact a pharmacist in your home so they can locate the exact names of your medications and associated dosages, Sethi Young said.

Do not try to change your diet or take a different medicine instead of your usual medicine.  Call your doctor first.

staticnak1983 via Getty Images

Do not try to change your diet or take a different medicine instead of your usual medicine. Call your doctor first.

Visit a local pharmacy at your destination.

Once you have received a copy of your medication record, take it to a local pharmacy, as you may be able to purchase your prescription medications there. Be sure to visit a hospital pharmacy or a reputable chain pharmacy and insist on the medicine’s original packaging, Desai said.

Remember to keep receipts for your purchase, as you could get some form of reimbursement if you have travel insurance, Desai added.

Each country has its own rules regarding the sale of prescription drugs. So if you are refused medication after showing your prescription to your doctor, you may need to see a local doctor for a new prescription.

Visit an urgent care or internal medicine clinic.

Urgent care centers and medical clinics with internal medicine physicians typically experience a variety of health issues, Desai said. She recommends that you take a list of your current medications and medical conditions from your primary care provider during a visit.

Typically, internal medicine or family physicians who act as general practitioners can prescribe a variety of medications. If the local internal medicine doctor is unable to help you with your prescription, they can refer you to a specialist doctor who can.

The process of retrieving your forgotten medications can seem stressful, but don’t panic. There are medical professionals who can support you and help you access your medications, Sethi Young said.

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