You May Be Denied Entry To The United States If You Are Carrying Non-Prescription Drugs | Bombay News

Indians traveling abroad, especially to the United States, have been known to carry a mini dispensary with them – not only for their usual medications, but also for medical contingencies ranging from fever and stomach problems to more serious ailments.
They do this mainly for two reasons: (a) drugs in the United States are much more expensive than in India (they are covered by insurance for Americans), and (b) they are difficult to access – not only a wider range of drugs require a doctor’s prescription in the US pharmacies are stricter in enforcing this requirement (whereas in India the friendly neighborhood pharmacy tends to be relatively ‘lax’) .
And yet, most Indians don’t bother to have prescriptions with them when they go abroad, not even to the United States. This is mainly because they don’t think their supply of medicine will be checked at airports when they arrive – or they might be refused entry. They need to know that they are taking a big risk – and their luck could turn for the worse the next time they land in New York or DC or San Francisco or Chicago – or any other city in the United States.
If you don’t believe us, read this recent tweet from a partner at a top law firm: “If anyone/family etc. travel to the United States, please pay attention to the medications being transported. A client of ours was kicked out of San Francisco yesterday for carrying two strips of Zolfresh (which contains Zolpidem) and Tramadol without a prescription. They are apparently Schedule 4 controlled substances in the United States and require a prescription. His visa was revoked and a five-year travel ban on
the United States was taxed. She is part of a well-known Indian family. “TOI knows the identity of the ‘client’ in question, but has chosen not to disclose it in order to protect her privacy. So here’s the deal: while most US airports allow Indians to carry their pickles and garam masalas, drugs carried without the mandatory doctor’s note could result in your US visa being revoked. In the case of the Indian woman who was deported, her pleas for airport staff to simply throw away her medication fell on deaf ears. While in India many drugs, including high-potency antibiotics, can be purchased without a prescription, the rules for over-the-counter sales and scheduled drugs in the United States are clearly stated and adhered to.
The rigor also affects the medicines brought by the international leaflets. International passengers traveling to the United States with medication fall under the jurisdiction of the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). There are various restrictions imposed by different agencies, but the general rule is that the passenger must carry a valid prescription or doctor’s note – written in English – in order to bring medication into the United States, says the FDA on its website.
The general rule is: do not carry more than a 90-day supply of medication necessary for your personal use. A senior airline commander, requesting anonymity, said: “Other countries in Europe and Asia also have similar rules on transporting medicines. But in my three decades of international flight, I’ve seen no other country impose it as strictly as the United States.” Some Indian frequent travelers, local doctors say, are aware of the need to keep prescriptions ready.
Others, like 23-year-old Sunaina (name changed), who received an elaborate prescription written by her former classmate-turned-doctor before flying to Nashville for graduate school in biochemistry, took advice from more “Seniors at my college warned me that I should get prescriptions for any painkillers I might need for my period pain,” 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 request is that I should write medicine for headaches, toothaches, and of course any chronic disease like diabetes,” Dr. Pingle said. Many even ask for prescriptions for Vicks VapoRub, Eno, or certain Ayurvedic pills, but doctors are reluctant to write non-allopathic drugs. A veteran doctor based in Mumbai said problems arise when scheduled drugs are transported without proper documentation. “Paperwork is very important for drugs with psychotropic components written for sleep or psychiatric disorders,” he added.
Dos and Don’ts of Traveling to the United States
A valid prescription or doctor’s note – written in English – is required to bring medication into the United States. The medicine should be in its original packaging 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 everything you need for your personal use during your stay.
A rule of thumb: don’t bring more than 90 days worth of medication. Medicines in liquid or solid form are permitted in carry-on baggage and are exempt from the ban on liquids over 11.3 grams in carry-on baggage. Medical accessories such as freezer packs, IV bags, pumps and syringes are permitted in carry-on baggage, but items must be clearly labeled. Note: Based on standards established by the US FDA, CBP and TSA.

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