Travelling with medicines – read this before you leave
With an Australian being detained in Bali for taking his prescription medicines into the country without adequate documentation, NPS MedicineWise is reminding people that with the holiday season approaching, Australians need to plan ahead when they are travelling with medicines.
Pharmacist and Medicines Line Team Lead at NPS MedicineWise Nerida Packham says medicines are a part of life for the 9 million Australian adults who take a prescription medicine every day*.
“Taking your medicine documentation when travelling overseas is also important for other reasons,” says Ms Packham.
“Carrying a copy of your prescriptions and a letter from your doctor explaining what the medicines are for can help if you go to a doctor or pharmacist while overseas. They may not be familiar with your medicines, and different pharmacies may not carry your regular brand of medicine,” she said.
If you are travelling in the heat, keeping medicines at the right temperature is also important.
Most medicines need to be stored under 25°C as exposure to heat and sunlight can cause chemical reactions in some medicines and reduce their effectiveness. If you’re going to be driving long distances or you’ll be somewhere without electricity (such as camping), make sure any medicines are kept cool and dry in refrigerated bags.
Ms Packham advises to be sure to know the active ingredient in your usual medicine so that you can get the right medicine—and ensure you’re not doubling up on doses.
“The active ingredient is the chemical in the medicine that makes it work. The same active ingredient can come in different forms, such as in a tablet or as a liquid, and can also be sold as different brands – so it’s important to know how to recognise the active ingredient to avoid putting yourself at risk of accidental overdosing,” she said.
To help you keep track of your medicines, and to ensure you always have your medicine details on hand, NPS MedicineWise produces a Medicines List where you can record everything you take, including prescription, over-the-counter and complementary medicines. The Medicines List is available in English and 10 additional languages.
Other ways to seek out good quality, accurate, evidence-based information include looking up the Consumer Medicines Information (CMI) leaflet for your medicine via the Medicine Finder on the NPS MedicineWise website or in our free MedicineWise smartphone app.