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Tue Jan 8, 2013, 01:18 PM

Anyone have experience taking a large quantity of prescription meds through US Customs?

I'm a US resident but I've been in Europe for the past few months, during which time I spent several weeks in Hospital with a heart condition. I'm now doing better and ready to fly home again on Monday, but I'm worried. I'm on 7 prescription drugs now, and I just picked up a six month supply of them at the pharmacy to see me through to my follow-up appointment back here in May.

The thing is, I paid about 110 Euros for the lot, and I suspect it would cost me an order of magnitude or two more for the same thing back in the US. In order to protect us, (yeah, right!) the US doesn't allow its residents to import more than a small supply (50 doses, or 3 months worth, sources differ) of FDA-approved, legally-prescribed medicine unless it was prescribed by a US-based, FDEA-approved doctor.

Now these are all perfectly valid, legal mainstream medications, but they were prescribed by a German cardiologist. Hell, I don't even have a US doctor (yet).

Anybody have any suggestions? Do I brazen it out, attempt to send them ahead via UPS, what?

Thanks in advance!

32 replies, 2523 views

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Reply Anyone have experience taking a large quantity of prescription meds through US Customs? (Original post)
Ron Obvious Jan 2013 OP
CountAllVotes Jan 2013 #1
Ron Obvious Jan 2013 #9
BigDemVoter Jan 2013 #2
Ron Obvious Jan 2013 #10
11 Bravo Jan 2013 #3
benld74 Jan 2013 #4
Ron Obvious Jan 2013 #11
Motown_Johnny Jan 2013 #14
Yo_Mama Jan 2013 #5
sinkingfeeling Jan 2013 #6
Ron Obvious Jan 2013 #16
sinkingfeeling Jan 2013 #19
pansypoo53219 Jan 2013 #7
Michigan Alum Jan 2013 #8
Ron Obvious Jan 2013 #12
Solly Mack Jan 2013 #13
Kaleva Jan 2013 #15
Ron Obvious Jan 2013 #20
RebelOne Jan 2013 #17
Recursion Jan 2013 #18
Ron Obvious Jan 2013 #21
mrmpa Jan 2013 #25
CreekDog Jan 2013 #22
Orrex Jan 2013 #23
ohheckyeah Jan 2013 #24
darkangel218 Jan 2013 #26
Warpy Jan 2013 #27
plethoro Jan 2013 #28
longship Jan 2013 #29
Ron Obvious Jan 2013 #30
JVS Jan 2013 #31
Ron Obvious Jan 2013 #32

Response to Ron Obvious (Original post)

Tue Jan 8, 2013, 01:27 PM

1. I had a 30-day supply

I traveled all over Europe and I had copies of the prescriptions and the medications were in the quart sized bag. Luckily they all fit into one quart sized bag. If it was more, I don't know what would have happened.

I declared the medications because I did not want them x-rayed (contaminated). It worked until I got to Germany where I was mocked and questioned by the Germans and they would not honor my request not to have them x-rayed and so they did.

Otherwise, I had no problems but this was a 30-day supply only.

I don't know what else to tell you or say except GOOD LUCK w/these damned airlines!

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Response to CountAllVotes (Reply #1)

Tue Jan 8, 2013, 03:57 PM

9. Thanks!

Thanks! It's not the airlines that worry me, though.

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Response to Ron Obvious (Original post)

Tue Jan 8, 2013, 01:37 PM

2. I was out of the country for 2 years a while back. . . .

And I left and came back with a bunch of prescription meds. I never had a problem.

I DID hear that it is always a good idea to bring your prescriptions with you, just in case, but I don't remember if I did or not. In any case, nobody looked or asked.

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Response to BigDemVoter (Reply #2)

Tue Jan 8, 2013, 03:59 PM

10. Well, the pharmacy has the original prescriptions...

Well, the pharmacy has the prescriptions, but I do have everything in the original boxes with my name and birthdate and pharmacy name on the box. I suppose that'll have to do.

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Response to Ron Obvious (Original post)

Tue Jan 8, 2013, 01:40 PM

3. The most authoritative source I can think of would be rushlimbaugh.com.

Nothing beats experience!

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Response to Ron Obvious (Original post)

Tue Jan 8, 2013, 01:59 PM

4. Fedex them home,,,,

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Response to benld74 (Reply #4)

Tue Jan 8, 2013, 04:02 PM

11. I'm still considering that..

Of course, it's really only replacing one potential problem with another because drug importation through the mail is just as illegal.

I don't know which has the better chance of getting through.

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Response to Ron Obvious (Reply #11)

Tue Jan 8, 2013, 04:07 PM

14. Maybe send multiple fedex packages

so that you are importing smaller quantities


and then carry some with you too


there has to be a loophole somewhere

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Response to Ron Obvious (Original post)

Tue Jan 8, 2013, 02:03 PM

5. Ship them back. Just take one month's supply with you n/t

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Response to Ron Obvious (Original post)

Tue Jan 8, 2013, 02:14 PM

6. Go here for the answer....

http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel/vacation/kbyg/prohibited_restricted.xml


Medication
Rule of thumb: When you go abroad, take the medicines you will need, no more, no less. Narcotics and certain other drugs with a high potential for abuse - Rohypnol, GHB and Fen-Phen, to name a few - may not be brought into the United States, and there are severe penalties for trying to do so. If you need medicines that contain potentially addictive drugs or narcotics (e.g., some cough medicines, tranquilizers, sleeping pills, antidepressants or stimulants), do the following:



Declare all drugs, medicinals, and similar products to the appropriate CBP official;
Carry such substances in their original containers;
Carry only the quantity of such substances that a person with that condition (e.g., chronic pain) would normally carry for his/her personal use; and
Carry a prescription or written statement from your physician that the substances are being used under a doctor's supervision and that they are necessary for your physical well being while traveling.

U.S. residents entering the United States at international land borders who are carrying a validly obtained controlled substance (other than narcotics such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin, or LSD), are subject to certain additional requirements. If a U.S. resident wants to bring in a controlled substance (other than narcotics such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin, or LSD) but does not have a prescription for the substance issued by a U.S.-licensed practitioner (e.g., physician, dentist, etc.) who is registered with, and authorized by, the Drug Enforcement Administration to prescribe the medication, the individual may not import more than 50 dosage units of the medication into the United States. If the U.S. resident has a prescription for the controlled substance issued by a DEA registrant, more than 50 dosage units may be imported by that person, provided all other legal requirements are met.


Please note that only medications that can be legally prescribed in the United States may be imported for personal use. Be aware that possession of certain substances may also violate state laws. As a general rule, the FDA does not allow the importation of prescription drugs that were purchased outside the United States. Please see their Web site for information about the enforcement policy for personal use quantities.


Warning: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration prohibits the importation, by mail or in person, of fraudulent prescription and nonprescription drugs and medical devices. These include unorthodox “cures” for such medical conditions as cancer, AIDS, arthritis or multiple sclerosis. Although such drugs or devices may be legal elsewhere, if the FDA has not approved them for use in the United States, they may not legally enter the country and will be confiscated, even if they were obtained under a foreign physician’s prescription.


Additional information about traveling with and importing medication can be found at the FDA's Drugs page. ( Drugs )

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Response to sinkingfeeling (Reply #6)

Tue Jan 8, 2013, 04:11 PM

16. Yep, I saw that too

That's how I know I'm technically violating the law by taking a 6 month's supply (rather than 50 dosage units) of a drug prescribed by a non-US doctor. I just don't know how vigorous they are about enforcing this.

Unfortunately, there's something about my face and/or attitude that always gets me into trouble with US Customs, especially in Seattle. Having to open everything up happens to me frequently, and they've even thrown in a free prostate exam in the past...

Dammit, I need these meds to stay alive. The last thing I need now is the stress of worrying about this because of the Big Pharma Profit Protection Act.

Grrrr....

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Response to Ron Obvious (Reply #16)

Tue Jan 8, 2013, 04:19 PM

19. Well, that's from US Customs, so if you want to violate the law, good luck.

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Response to Ron Obvious (Original post)

Tue Jan 8, 2013, 02:36 PM

7. have all your scrips.

i took meds w/ me(had to be kept cool). not one mention or question. packed in checked luggage. injected drugs.

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Response to pansypoo53219 (Reply #7)

Tue Jan 8, 2013, 03:30 PM

8. I think I had mine in my purse. It was x-rayed. No problem. I didn't think about the radiation thoug

Someone else mentioned contamination which I didn't think about.

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Response to pansypoo53219 (Reply #7)

Tue Jan 8, 2013, 04:04 PM

12. I have everything in the original packaging...

I have everything in the original packaging with the pharmacists sticker with my name and birthday on them. That's as close as I have to a prescription, since they kept the original (which was just a printout, as it was done electronically anyhow). I hope it's enough.

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Response to Ron Obvious (Original post)

Tue Jan 8, 2013, 04:07 PM

13. Yes. Not a problem. For me, anyway. Other people might

have had a different experience.

I brought 6 months worth of prescriptions with me last year. (from Germany)



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Response to Ron Obvious (Original post)

Tue Jan 8, 2013, 04:07 PM

15. How do you define "large quanity"? My ass can only hold so much.

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Response to Kaleva (Reply #15)

Tue Jan 8, 2013, 04:20 PM

20. I think it would make me walk funny...

There's enough of them to make me walk rather funny if I went down that route, I fear. I'm taking about 300 pills a month, making nearly 2000 pills for a 6 month supply.

Besides, I've had the rubber gloves treatment before. Never tried to actually smuggle in anything stronger than liverwurst, you understand, but I just have the kind of face that makes anyone in authority regard me with suspicion for some reason.

I suppose that liverwurst would have gone up my jaxie a treat, now that I think of it. Ah well, you only think of these things later.

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Response to Ron Obvious (Original post)

Tue Jan 8, 2013, 04:13 PM

17. I order my blood pressure medication from Canada.

I usually order 2 months supply at a time. They go through U.S. customs with no problem.

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Response to Ron Obvious (Original post)

Tue Jan 8, 2013, 04:17 PM

18. Rush Limbaugh (nt)

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Response to Ron Obvious (Original post)

Tue Jan 8, 2013, 11:58 PM

21. I think I'll just try my luck...

Well, I didn't hear any stories of anybody having theirs meds taken, so I'm going to try to take it and hope for the best. If anybody in customs says anything, I'll freeze them with my Basilisk glare and tell them I need the meds to survive.

Either that, or feign a heart attack

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Response to Ron Obvious (Reply #21)

Wed Jan 9, 2013, 12:03 AM

25. Carry with you what you need and..........

ship the rest to yourself, either through regular mail or Fedex.

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Response to Ron Obvious (Original post)

Tue Jan 8, 2013, 11:58 PM

22. Just tell them it's for goat

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Response to Ron Obvious (Original post)

Wed Jan 9, 2013, 12:00 AM

23. It helps to practice swallowing grapes coated with honey.

Wait. What?

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Response to Ron Obvious (Original post)

Wed Jan 9, 2013, 12:02 AM

24. About 13 years ago or so

I bought my dad a year's worth of Prilosec in Mexico. Walked across the border, declared I had medication, they glanced in the bag and said nothing.

I don't know how much things have tightened up since then but that's my experience with Customs and prescriptions.

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Response to Ron Obvious (Original post)


Response to Ron Obvious (Original post)

Wed Jan 9, 2013, 12:19 AM

27. I used to bring big bags of prescription drugs through from Mexico

every 6 months. I had my own prescription bottles in the bag should there be any question, but when the official asked me if I had anything to declare, I just held up the bag and said "drugs!" and I have to tell you they never looked inside.

It all depends on the martinet at customs, of course, and a real jerk would probably complain bitterly about any more than a month's supply.

You can send them UPS or even USPS with very little risk. Unless you're getting drugs from pill mills in India, southeast Asia or eastern Europe where they're known to ship narcotics to anyone who comes up with the money, customs doesn't bother the packages at all.

I honestly don't think customs will give you any static unless there are syringes of morphine in there.

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Response to Ron Obvious (Original post)

Wed Jan 9, 2013, 12:43 AM

28. I had customs intercept two orders out of

 

many over the last 20 years. On both of them they did the same thing. They shredded through their paper containers ruining a couple of pills in each package. The rest were okay. I thought that strange. Letters from customs accompanied both packages Now these were more exotic depression drugs--but not for me. Simple stuff like diabetic meds, no problem. Many of the drugs now come from foreign ports in much nicer packaging than the US stuff. Lot of these countries vacuum seal their stuff. I can't give out my foreign ports on this post. Oh, one thing, even though there are tons of these places now, they have grown more expensive. A hundred cephlexin might cost you 65-80 dollars. It takes a long time to get stuff because of the unusual circuitous routing... I know a lot of people who couldn't even afford their meds if they weren't getting them from these places...many would have already died.

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Response to Ron Obvious (Original post)

Wed Jan 9, 2013, 12:56 AM

29. Rush is your go-to guy on this.

Viagra... Dominican Republic...

He has ways... Until he gets caught, that is.

But he hasn't been caught since, so I really do think that he's still your go-to guy.

Let us all know how it works out for ya.

(Much kidding here. Don't take it seriously.)

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Response to longship (Reply #29)

Wed Jan 9, 2013, 01:51 AM

30. I should have seen the Rush jokes coming...

I didn't realise until much later that I set up a perfect straight line for a Rush joke there!

I should've seen it coming...

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Response to Ron Obvious (Original post)

Wed Jan 9, 2013, 02:03 AM

31. Sooner or later you're going to need them in the US, why not line that up now?

I'd be scared silly at the idea of traveling to a new country and not having made arrangements for something as important as heart medication ready to go at a moment's notice on the other side of the ocean. I understand your desire to save the money on medication that will probably be more expensive over here, and I understand your desire to bring them with you. But since you're facing the potential confiscation of your medicine at the border, I strongly advise you to ask your physician to contact a US doctor to discuss your case and arrange for a seamless continuation of your treatment program. The only advice I can offer you is that you should make sure to keep as much of the medicine sealed in the original packaging as possible.

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Response to Ron Obvious (Original post)

Thu Jan 17, 2013, 03:58 PM

32. Made it!

Just in case anyone wondered, after being carefully packed in 4 separate suitcases, the pills (nearly 2000 of them) all went through undetected and unchallenged.

Big relief! Now to figure out those "serving sizes" on the grocery packaging to continue on the low-sodium diet. Thus far they seem to have little relation to reality.

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