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It may seem sensible to pack your prescription with you when traveling, but health experts warn that you may end up on the wrong side of the law.
The team at Universal Drugstore analyzed each country’s banned prescription drugs and the legal punishments for carrying them into your travel destination, revealing the vacation hotspots with the harshest consequences for travelers.
The top 10 countries with the most banned prescription drugs
|Number of banned drugs
|United Arab Emirates
Regarding countries with the most banned drugs, the United States takes first place, with 562 controlled substances on its ban list. Officially released by the US Department of Justice, the list highlights single substances and drug combinations that are controlled and highly regulated. This includes common prescription drugs such as Codeine, Diazepam, and Tramadol.
Germany follows behind with 464 banned or controlled drugs, including commonly used prescriptions such as Amphetamines, Phenobarbital, and Zolpidem. However, travelers may take appropriate quantities of medications with them that have been prescribed by their doctor and for their personal use during their travel period in the country.
Japan completes the top three with over 300 banned or controlled drugs on its list. The popular tourist destination has listed commonly prescribed medications, including Pseudoephedrine, Clonazepam, and hydrocodone on its controlled substances list2.
Japanese law allows up to one month’s supply of prescription medicine to be brought into the country. Travelers should obtain a copy of their doctor’s prescription and a letter stating the purpose of the drug.
Jamie Winn PharmD, Medical Director at Universal Drugstore shares valuable insight on how to navigate traveling with prescribed medications:
“Traveling with prescription drugs demands a good level of research on the legal drug laws in your host country, and you must understand the medication regulations of your destination. Though they may be legal in your country, some medications may have strict rules elsewhere.
If your prescription includes controlled substances, be extra cautious. Always carry a copy of your prescription, clearly stating your medical condition and the necessity of the prescription drugs. Familiarize yourself with the generic names of your medication too, as brand names can vary globally. Ensure that you stay informed as regulations change; therefore, you must check for updates on reliable government sources.
Prepare for the unexpected when traveling with prescriptions. Pack extra medication to account for any delays or unforeseen circumstances, but stay aware of the limits in each country. For example, some countries only allow a month’s worth of medication. Consider carrying a basic first aid kit with essential over-the-counter medications that might be hard to find in your holiday destination.
Finally, you may want to consult your healthcare provider before going on your trip. If you are aware that you will need to carry a banned medication while traveling, they can guide you through the process and anticipate any adjustments, allowing for a much smoother, stress-free travel experience.”
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