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By Andrea Drever

Content and Editorial Director


When you’re traveling abroad, even buying shampoo can be challenging on occasion. So attempting to fill a prescription on foreign soil should be avoided if at all possible. Don’t plan on being able to purchase your medicines, whether prescribed or over-the-counter, at your destination. They may not be available, and if they are, they may not meet U.S. quality standards. In many developing countries, counterfeit drugs are also a big problem. That being said, if you must attain meds, here are some tips.

Filling Prescriptions

  • Bring a prescription from your doctor with you.
  • Some countries don’t honor foreign prescriptions, so you may need to visit a clinic or physician who can quickly evaluate you and provide a local prescription.
  • Remember that your medication, when bought abroad, could be sold under a different brand name.
  • If you have a preexisting medical condition, ask your doctor to write a letter describing the condition and any prescription medications needed to treat it, including the generic names of the prescribed drugs.
  • In some developing countries, a prescription isn’t necessary, and prescription medications, including antibiotics, can be obtained directly from the pharmacy.

Avoiding Counterfeit Drugs

  • Buy medicines only from licensed pharmacies and get a receipt. Don’t buy medicines from open markets.
  • Ask the pharmacist whether the drug has the same active ingredient as the one you were taking.
  • Make sure the medicine is in its original packaging.
  • Look closely at the packaging. Sometimes poor-quality printing or otherwise strange-looking packaging will indicate a counterfeit product.

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