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Travelling in Asia with a lot of life saving drugs

Melbourne, Australia
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Travelling in Asia with a lot of life saving drugs

My husband is on several life saving drugs and we want to travel to Vietnam for a month. He is pretty self sufficient and can measure his INR for the Warfarin - that is not a problem. I just wonder if anyone has any advice for storing such a number of drugs while travelling in Asia. We would need to take a month's supply, and would have to return to Aus if something happened to them.

Regards DG

Bangkok
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1. Re: Travelling in Asia with a lot of life saving drugs

Hi,

Generally speaking as a non-resident tourist you can bring in most medications which are:

a) specifically prescribed to you,

b) in quantities that are only for your period of stay

c) are not for re-sale, gifting, etc.

d) are not specifically prohibited in that country.

Vietnam, like most of SE Asia is very aware of and takes the issue of narcotics smuggling very seriously.. so while legal drugs pass Customs control with little issue, things that are prohibited or regulated may get closer scrutiny. So, you'd be wise to just double check with the VN Embassy or CG in your area for a definitive ruling.

As far as storing it, in most hotel rooms your room will either be controlled by a it's own A/C unit, or via central A/C-- so maintaining a reasonable 'room temperature' should be easy..

In the cases where your room is not climate controlled, you might be able to store it in your in-room fridge-- but-- be sure you let the hotel know and your specific room maid/housekeeper as well.. just so it's not accidentally thrown away during the daily room servicing process..

As a last alternative, many hotels can arrange for it to be stored in their kitchen refrigerator or can provide a supply of ice to cool it.

Travel Safe,

Melbourne, Australia
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2. Re: Travelling in Asia with a lot of life saving drugs

Thanks GOPBI, some good hints in your response. We will only be staying in two hotels this time, so your tips should be easy to put in place.

No narcotics involved. However the drug routine is pretty new to us and even though we have travelled to Asia many times, we did it without this addition to our luggage - although it will get smaller as the days go by!

I am still concerned that they may go missing - any hints on security for medication while travelling?.

DG

Bangkok
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3. Re: Travelling in Asia with a lot of life saving drugs

Hi,

Obviously when you're actively traveling, the drugs should remain on you or in your immediate carry-on and within your control at all times.. never, ever let it go in checked bags.. while the statistical probability of a lost or late bag is very, very small, since the consequence can be severe, you need to take that risk to as close to zero as possible.. so when traveling, keep them on your person.

In the hotels, if the medications need to be climate controlled-- like being kept in your room refrigerator, I would do a few things..

a) Place a note on the fridge door *and* inside on the medication itself (in local language) that they are not to be thrown away..

b) speak to your rooms actual maid/housekeeper *and* the front desk or housekeeping manager as well..

Medications aren't widely known to be high theft items as their re-saleability is limited... Not like cash, cameras and the like which can be re-sold quickly.. Things that get stolen are generally things that can be quickly turned to cash or used themselves.. so, unless the thief also has the same medical condition, the notion that it's likely to be stolen is, in my mind, very low..

If your meds don't need to be kept cool, then store them in your checked bags and keep those bags securely locked when unattended in your room. If you really want to go one step further-- and I know people who do this-- you can also ask to store them in the hotels front desk safe..

In any case, it's always wise to know your prescription and have access to it and know the name and address of the best western medical clinic in the towns you'll be visiting.

Travel Safe,

Melbourne, Australia
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4. Re: Travelling in Asia with a lot of life saving drugs

Hi GOPBI

Great info, thanks for taking the time.

Regards DG

Mount Dora, Florida
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5. Re: Travelling in Asia with a lot of life saving drugs

I keep my medications in the same location as I keep my spare cash, my jewelry and my passport. Everything is contained in my carry-on which never leaves me when I am traveling. In the hotel I do not worry about anyone stealing my medications. Nonetheless, I still secure them in the hotel safe mostly so I remember exactly where I have put them. None of our medication requires refrigeration.

We normally travel for three months at a time, occasionally even longer. Our medications are almost the only thing that fits into my carry-on. We both use narcotic medications. We have never had any trouble taking them into a country. I am, however, careful to make sure the medication is in its original container, and that I have a doctor's prescription for it. I also do not travel to Dubai.

Vancouver, Canada
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6. Re: Travelling in Asia with a lot of life saving drugs

I would agree with Busy-retired. Original pharmacy containers and a copy of the prescription, carry it with you. Make sure the generic name is on the prescription. For example, Tylenol is Tylenol here, but not necessarily Tylenol elsewhere. But acetaminophen will be known everywhere. I would also suggest taking one extra day's supply because you never know if your plane home will experience mechanical or weather related delays.

Your pharmacy would be very knowledgeable about travel kits. Some come with gel packs like the following, which do a fabulous job of keeping drugs cool if necessary. (Keep drugs from touching the frozen gel pack by carrying them in a zip lock bag.) No melting, Security approved.

en.sofrigam.com/our-products/gel-packs.html

Here is the website for finding an English speaking doctor in another country. Your hotel would be prepared with this information as well.

http://www.iamat.org/doctors_clinics.cfm

If you are at all uncomfortable with leaving the drugs in your room, store them in the hotel safe. (I've given way more information than your question asked for, only out of interest in helping anyone who is reading this forum.) I hope you have a very enjoyable trip to a rather unique part of the world!

Melbourne, Australia
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7. Re: Travelling in Asia with a lot of life saving drugs

Thanks Busy-retired and Muftimixandmatch.

The information is really great. I have had a quick look at the links Mufti, and I will check whether any of the meds need refrigeration - we keep everything in the refrigerator in Darwin because it is safer in the heat.

Busy-R

'Our medications are almost the only thing that fits into my carry-on.'

You must have way more than I am talking about. So you have inspired me that we can do it.

Thanks once again.

Keep travelling, DG

Melbourne, Australia
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8. Re: Travelling in Asia with a lot of life saving drugs

I have one more question.

If we get separated from the meds, and find an English speaking clinic, will they have the necessary medications? I have read a lot of threads on the Vietnam forum suggesting that local pharmacies may carry copies or out of date stock!

DG

Bangkok
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9. Re: Travelling in Asia with a lot of life saving drugs

Hi,

Unfortunately within the Asia region there is a small risk of adulterated drugs as unlike many 'western' nations, the national control over dispensing drugs-- that's pharmacy issues and not illegal narcotic trafficking-- is not as tight or comprehensive as it is in the west..

That said, it's not "common" per se, but you DO need to be aware of what and where you source your meds.. The best way to protect yourself is to buy only from reputable local sources..

One of the better ways to know who is or is not a reputable source is to check with your local Embassy in that country.. Most Embassies maintain a publicly available list of accredited medical providers and clinics in that country and that speak your native language..

Many Embassies, by policy, can't or won't formally recommend one provider or clinic over another, but the list is who they know to be credible and reliable.. In lots of cases, these doctors or clinics are where the Embassy personnel go for care themselves..

In your case, as it appears you are an Australian national, the AU Embassy in Hanoi has this exact list here:

AU Embassy in VN:

…embassy.gov.au/hnoi/Travel_insurance_and.ht…

Note that this list has Hospitals, Clinics and even Dentists.. So it's pretty comprehensive. I *strongly* suggest you print this page and take it with you so *IF* it becomes an issue you have this information readily.

Speaking to Vietnam, the overall level of care there is good-- but is rather limited to the major cities.. the better care in the region, or where you'd need to go for emergency issues if things really went "bad" would be to Bangkok, Singapore or even Hong Kong.. but the level of care in Vietnam will be better than neighboring Laos or Cambodia..

Travel Safe,

Leigh-on Sea...
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10. Re: Travelling in Asia with a lot of life saving drugs

we have just returned after a month touring Vietnam. My husband also has to take many drugs, he always asks our doctor to prescribe enough for the trip plus an extra 2 weeks in case of any reason our return journey is deferred (I am thinking of what happened with the icelandic ash cloud last year) We then split the drugs in half, always half in our hand luggage , never out of our sight, the other half in the hold luggage. That way, if your luggage goes missing, as ours did for 3 days on arrival at HCM, he has enough drugs for the holiday. With the big buisness of counterfeiting in Vietnam, I would be very wary of trying to obtain the drugs there. He also carries a letter from his doctor, as one of the drugs is regarded as a 'controlled' drug in the UK, plus a copy of his prescriptions , just to prevent any hassle at customs. However, we have not yet encountered a customs problem anywhere in the world, although there was a British journalist who was jailed in Dubai for failing to prove that his drugs were prescribed!.

We had a lovely trip in the Central Highlands but was glad we did not go the whole way Dalat to Hoi An. 3 days was enough as we like our comforts, and as the roads were bad in places I think my husband would have seen it as more of an endurance test than a holiday. Thanks for your posts.

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