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You can be denied US entry if you’re carrying medicines without a prescription | mumbainews

Indians traveling overseas, especially to the US, are known to carry a mini dispensary with them – not just for their regular medicines but also for medical contingencies ranging from fever and stomach problems to more serious ailments.
They do it mainly for two reasons: (a) medicines in the US are way more expensive than in India (they are covered by insurance for Americans), and (b) they are difficult to access – not only do a wider range of medicines need a doctor’s prescription in the US, drugstores are stricter in enforcing this requirement (whereas in India, the friendly neighborhood pharmacy tends to be relatively ‘relaxed’).
And yet, most Indians don’t bother to carry prescriptions when they go abroad, not even to the US. That’s primarily because they don’t think their stash of medicines will be checked at airports when they arrive – or that they could be denied entry. They should know they are taking a big risk – and their luck might turn for the worse the next time they touch down in New York or DC or San Francisco or Chicago – or any other city in the US.
If you don’t believe us, read this recent tweet by a partner in a top-tier law firm: “If anyone/family etc traveling to the US, please be careful about the medicine that is being carried. Yesterday, a client of ours was deported from San Francisco for carrying two strips of Zolfresh (which has Zolpidem) and Tramadol without a prescription. These are apparently Schedule 4 controlled substances in the US and require a prescription. Her visa de ella has been revoked and a five-year ban on travel to
the US has been imposed. She is part of a very well known Indian family. ”TOI is aware of the identity of the ‘client’ in question, but she has chosen not to disclose it so as to protect her privacy from her. So here’s the deal: While most US airports allow Indians to carry their pickles and garam masalas, medicines carried without the mandatory doctor’s note could result in revocation of your American visa. In the case of the Indian lady who was deported, her pleas de ella to airport staff that they simply throw away her medicines de ella fell on deaf ears. While in India many medicines, including high potency antibiotics, can be bought over the counter, the rules for OTC sales and scheduled drugs in the US are clearly stated and followed.
The stringency spills over to medications brought in by international fliers as well. International passengers flying into the US with medications fall under the review of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). There are varying restrictions imposed by different agencies, but the general rule is the passenger should carry a valid prescription or doctor’s note — written in English — in order to bring medication to the US, states the FDA on its website.
The general rule of thumb is: Carry no more than a 90-day supply of medication needed for personal use. A senior airline commander, requesting anonymity, said: “Other countries in Europe and Asia, too, have similar rules on carrying medication. But in my three decades of flying international, I have not seen any other country impose it with as much rigor as the US. ” Some frequent-flier Indians, say local doctors, are aware of the need to keep prescriptions ready.
Others like 23-year-old Sunaina (name changed), who got an elaborate prescription written by her former classmate-turned-doctor before flying to Nashville for higher studies in biochemistry, heeded advice from more “Seniors in my college had warned me that I should get prescriptions for any painkiller I may need for my period pains,” she said. Dr Suhas Pingle, who heads the Maharashtra chapter of the Indian Medical Association, said people often visit him before flying out. “The standard demand is that I should write down drugs for headaches, toothaches and, of course, any chronic illness such as diabetes,” said Dr Pingle. Many even seek prescriptions for Vicks VapoRub, Eno or some ayurvedic pills but doctors are wary about writing out non-allopathic drugs. A senior Mumbai-based doctor said problems arise when scheduled drugs are carried without proper documents. “Paperwork is very important for drugs containing psychotropic components written for sleep or psychiatric disorders,” he added.
Dos and don’ts for travel to the us
A valid prescription or doctor’s note — written in English — is needed to bring medication to the US The medication should be in its original container with the doctor’s instructions printed on it.
If you don’t have the original container, bring a copy of your prescription or a letter from your doctor explaining your condition and why you need this medication Travel with no more than you need for your personal use during your stay.
A rule of thumb: Bring no more than a 90-day supply of medication Medications in liquid or solid forms are allowed in carry-on bags and are exempt from the ban on liquids beyond 11.3 grams in cabin bags. Medical accessories such as freezer packs, IV bags, pumps and syringes are allowed in cabin bags but the items should be clearly labeled Note: Based on norms laid down by US FDA, CBP and TSA.


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