Packing prescription meds...do I need original bottle?

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#1
Naperville
89 Posts
Joined May 2000
The other day while talking to the RCCL agent, she mentioned that I need to be sure to carry any/all prescription medications in the original bottle. Now, I know that technically and legally all these sorts of meds. do need to be in the bottle, however.... I travel by air 100,000 miles a year, I put my meds in a pill box, in my carryon, and have never been questioned by TSA domestic,nor international. SO -is it really necessary to pack the bottles (takes up space) or was she doing a CYA thing, or what? Mind you, she also told me that since I was flying in day before the cruise, I would probably be out of luck to get a transfer from the airport to pier as a 'walk-up'. (Which I know isn't true, and indeed RCCL customer service told me later that I would not have a problem doing a 'walk-up' transfer. Sheesh!

Thanks!
#2
New Joizey
872 Posts
Joined Dec 2008
I'm a pharmacist. It's always a good idea to have a labeled prescription on your person when traveling. Especially when it comes to controlled substances.

From the US State Dept.
http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/...32.html#health
Bringing Medications or Filling Prescriptions Abroad A traveler going abroad with a preexisting medical problem should carry a letter from the attending physician, describing the medical condition and any prescription medications, including the generic names of prescribed drugs. Any medications being carried overseas should be left in their original containers and be clearly labeled. Travelers should check with the foreign embassy of the country they are visiting to make sure any required medications are not considered to be illegal narcotics. (A listing of foreign embassies and consulates in the U.S. is available on the Department of State’s website at http://www.state.gov/s/cpr/rls/dpl/32122.htm. Foreign embassy and consulate contact information can also be found on the Country Specific Information for each country.)

Although, what you can do, and what I've done for myself and patients who are traveling... Ask your pharmacist for extra labels of the medicine you need and smaller bottles for those medications.


Usually, we can pull out a little 8 dram vial, and stick a label on it for the week you're traveling... and then you can transfer the week worth's of meds in the vial yourself.




The last thing you want to happen is some overzealous TSA officer confiscating a pill box worth of medicine, or an inhaler, or something because you don't have documentation for federally controlled substances or substances that are restricted for sale/use without an order from a physician.
#3
757 Posts
Joined Aug 2007
Technically, you should always keep prescription medications in the labeled bottle. This is true whether you are flying, cruising, or even on a road trip. You supposedly need to be able to prove to someone in authority what the medication is, and confirm that you are supposed to have it.

However, I have never heard of anyone having a problem. And particularly on a cruise ship, I would be very surprised to see if it caused any issues.

On a more practical note, I always tell the parents of my patients on prescription medications to make sure they carry an up to date list of what medications (including routes, forms, dosages, and prescriber contact info) with them whenever they go away.
#4
Texas Hill Country
16,075 Posts
Joined Jan 2006
This has nothing to do with legality of your having the meds, its for your protection in case they must get more of it for you or had to treat you on board or in a port. They wouldn't be able to fill a prescription for you if you lost or ran out of it unless you brought the prescription with you.
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#5
Maryland, by way of South Jersey
1,783 Posts
Joined Dec 2008
I used to bring my meds along in their bottles, but now I just use the weekly pill sorter. But my meds aren't for life threatening conditions. If they were, I'd continue bringing the bottles.
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#6
Wichita Falls, Texas
4,346 Posts
Joined Nov 2005
Originally posted by imwmn913
The other day while talking to the RCCL agent, she mentioned that I need to be sure to carry any/all prescription medications in the original bottle. Now, I know that technically and legally all these sorts of meds. do need to be in the bottle, however.... I travel by air 100,000 miles a year, I put my meds in a pill box, in my carryon, and have never been questioned by TSA domestic,nor international. SO -is it really necessary to pack the bottles (takes up space) or was she doing a CYA thing, or what? Mind you, she also told me that since I was flying in day before the cruise, I would probably be out of luck to get a transfer from the airport to pier as a 'walk-up'. (Which I know isn't true, and indeed RCCL customer service told me later that I would not have a problem doing a 'walk-up' transfer. Sheesh!

Thanks!
We travel quite often and like you have never had any authorities show interest in the medications we carry.

Also, it is probably naive to believe that Customs/DEA officers will assume that the pills in prescription bottle are the same pills as what is on the bottle's label. That, of course, extends to OTCs. Putting percocet in a tylenol bottle is not a particularly clever trick. So from a logical stand point carry pills in their original bottle accomplishes little.

But it is advantagous to have proof that the medications you carry were prescribed to you. Especially if they are controlled items. We carry copies of either the actual prescription or the bottle labels with us just in case.
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#7
757 Posts
Joined Aug 2007
Originally posted by BecciBoo
This has nothing to do with legality of your having the meds, its for your protection in case they must get more of it for you or had to treat you on board or in a port. They wouldn't be able to fill a prescription for you if you lost or ran out of it unless you brought the prescription with you.
This was much more of a concern a generation ago. Now, it's very easy to obtain prescription information or confirmation with only a phone call or check online. Furthermore, how often are you going to lose the medication, but not the prescription bottle?

This comes back to my previous recommendation to have all your medication information with you.
#8
Palm Springs, Calif
41,304 Posts
Joined Apr 2005
I pack my daily Pill organizer, but also the original bottles just in case I need to refill for any reason, although I make sure I have refills updated before we leave. I read earlier on CC to have a written detail of your medications also, and on a separate note, information in your luggage, of your cruise, name , phone #'s in case your luggage doesn't make it on board.
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#9
Fredericksburg, va. USA
84,341 Posts
Joined May 2001
Unless it's a controlled substance (narcotics), just bring your pill box....you won't be questioned or bothered. Any medications should be in your hand-held luggage...NEVER 'check' a bag with your Rx's!
#10
Clear Lake, IA
230 Posts
Joined Sep 2009
My H takes upwards of 20 pills a day, not counting his daily insulin. For us to take the vials that the prescriptions come in for over a weeks vacation takes up a TON of room. The recommendation that I got from both RCCL and Mayo Clinic, was for us to take the list of our meds as printed out by the clinic. We have a special pill container for H from Mayo that holds a weeks worth of pills and a place for us to put the list of meds inside. I am attaching the prescription numbers too in case of emergency.

I also have a note from the physician stating that he's an insulin dependent diabetic, since we were told we needed this from an RCCL agent. This way we should be covered on all his meds and insulin supplies.
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#11
Atlanta, GA
411 Posts
Joined Jun 2008
I guess I am in the minority here in agreeing with Mack2. Not taking my medication because it was confiscated by an overzealous TSA agent could have dire health consequences for me. Even more important is the fact that some of us DO have to carry our medicine ashore with us for excursions so that we can take it at specific times of day. The last thing I want to do is get in trouble for taking my prescription meds because they aren't in the appropriate container.

As for putting prescription meds like percocet into a Tylenol container...both the PDR and a couple of web databases which have listings of meds and all their generic substitutes with imprints and pictures of what the pill should look like are readily available for anyone and it is VERY easy to figure out what is in the bottle by cross-referencing those so I wouldn't risk it.

Traveling domestically by air a few years ago my Dad did have his meds questioned, but he had a prescription list with numbers and pharmacy numbers and his physician's information and, of course, you don't remove your nitro from its container to keep elsewhere so they let him through with everything in weekly containers. Ever since then I've been a little paranoid about it!
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#12
Naperville
89 Posts
Joined May 2000
My prescription meds are not life threatening, in fact, I've been known to skip a pill here and there (I know, bad person!). And yes, I do realize that legally and technically the original bottle should be carried. But, to get a duplicate label and a small bottle from our mail in pharmacy would be like asking them to fly to the moon! So, since I have never had any issues with flying domestically or internationally and I am only talking a total of 10 pills - I think I will just put them in my little ziplock in my carryon.
As someone mentionned - never put meds in checked luggage - totally agree. Nothing except clothing goes in that!
Thanks!
#13
13,688 Posts
Joined Mar 2007
Originally posted by imwmn913
My prescription meds are not life threatening, in fact, I've been known to skip a pill here and there (I know, bad person!). And yes, I do realize that legally and technically the original bottle should be carried. But, to get a duplicate label and a small bottle from our mail in pharmacy would be like asking them to fly to the moon! So, since I have never had any issues with flying domestically or internationally and I am only talking a total of 10 pills - I think I will just put them in my little ziplock in my carryon.
As someone mentionned - never put meds in checked luggage - totally agree. Nothing except clothing goes in that!
Thanks!
My DH also flies over 100k a year for business and has been stopped multiple times at TSA checkpoints. He takes many pills and does mail order also but he still carries all the original bottles. Maybe he is just flagged for extra security because he often books last second and is forever changing his plans, but he has been questioned about his little daily vitamins packs too. For him, it isn't worth missing an important meeting because he was detained by a TSA agent who was having a bad day.

If you do a search in the ask a question forum, there have been many threads about this with many people who have been stopped.