Which prescription medicines illegal in abroad?

Are you planning to take prescription medicines abroad? Different classes of prescription medicines are regarded as illegal substances in some countries. Some popular over-the-counter and prescription medicines – like sleeping pills, pain relief, allergies, common cold and ADHD medications are illegal or you need a medical certificate.

Planning to travel abroad? Which prescription medicines illegal in abroad?
Planning to travel abroad? Which prescription medicines illegal in abroad?

Narcotics and Psychotropics – illegal in abroad

Two major classes – narcotics and psychotropics – are under the purview of international law. These two classes cover any medicine or drugs that can have an effect on the Central Nervous System (CNS) and the potential to be abused.

Narcotic Drugs:

Natural, synthetic (man-made) and semisynthetic opioids are considered to be narcotic drugs, which include both legal and illegal manifestations.These includes,

  • Opium
  • Hydrocodone (Vicodin, Lorcet, Lortab)
  • Hydromorphone (Dilaudid and Exalgo)
  • Buprenorphine
  • Fentanyl (Actiq, Fentora, Duragesic, Subsys, Abstral, and Lazanda)
  • Oxymorphone (Opana)
  • Tramadol (ConZip, Ultram, and Ryzolt)
  • Carfentanil
  • Codeine
  • Methadone (Dolophine and Methadose)
  • Meperidine (Demerol)
  • Heroin
  • Morphine (MS Contin, Oramorph SR, Avinza, and Arymo ER)
  • Oxycodone (OxyContin, Roxicodone, and Oxecta)

The narcotic class mostly relates to analgesic opioids and their derivatives (e.g. morphine and codeine), which tend to be highly regulated. Narcotic drugs can be incredibly dangerous and have a high risk for potentially life-threatening overdose. Over 33,000 people died of an opioid overdose in the United States in 2015. Drugs, such as cocaine, heroin and various forms of amphetamine also known as drugs that cause cardiac arrest.

Narcotic drugs affect the central nervous system and can alter a user’s consciousness. These illegal drugs can have adverse cardiovascular effects, ranging from abnormal heart rate to heart attacks. Injecting these illegal drugs also can lead to cardiovascular problems.

Psychotropic Drugs:

Psychotropic drugs are medications that affect your central nervous system, changing how your brain processes information, such as altering your mood, thoughts, perceptions, emotions, and behaviors. Psychotropics are all those medications likely to be used to treat mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, and psychotic conditions. Psychotropic drugs divided into five major classes,

  • Stimulants
  • Antidepressants
  • Antipsychotics
  • Mood stabilizers
  • Antianxiety agents

Read: Drug Overdose Deaths, Propel Rise in Mortality Rates (1999-2014)

Over-the-counter and prescription medicines illegal in abroad

Avoid these over-the-counter and prescription medications in your travel kit to ensure you have the safest, most enjoyable and most productive trip possible.

  1. Some over-the-counter medications can’t be brought into Japan including sinus medications, few inhalers and common allergy medications.
  2. In practice, some countries will include a range of medications used to treat neurological conditions such as epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease to their regulated list.
  3. Others would even include sedating antihistamines as a banned substance. The message is therefore to be wary of carrying any medicine with the potential to affect the Central Nervous System.
  4. In Singapore, daily usage prescription medicines are illegal. Common medicines such as those for diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and contraception for personal medical use are not allowed without license. These medicines not requiring license if the quantity is less than 3 months’ supply. For more than 3 months supply, you need to get a license.
  5. Few countries such as the United Arab Emirates also include a range of non-CNS items in illegal drugs.
  6. Furazolidone is used in the treatment of diarrhea banned in several countries.
  7. In Mexico, It is illegal to bring some prescription and over-the-counter medicines commonly used in the United States, these include some allergy medications, inhalers and sinus medications.
  8. Cough mixture, paracetamol, eye drops, nappy rash cream, cough mixture, sun creams, and laxatives are all on the list of over-the-counter products.
  9. Because of serious health risk of Vicks VapoRub, it is banned in North America and many European countries.
  10. In some countries, the anti-anxiety medications Xanax, Ativan, and Buspar are illegal.
  11. Some Catholic countries also restrict the importation of birth control pills.
  12. It is illegal to bring any medicines in Mexico that contain pseudoephedrine, such as Actifed, Sudafed, and Vicks inhalers) or codeine.
  13. Medicines containing psychotropic substances e.g. anti-anxiety pills, sleeping pills, strong painkillers, etc. are illegal in Singapore.

Travelling with needles, syringes and complementary health products

  1. In some countries, a traveller found with needles and syringes and without an adequate explanation could be in serious trouble.
  2. Some countries restrict the importation of medical devices, such as birth control devices and CPAP machines.
  3. In Singapore, you are not allowed to import any complementary health products, such as traditional Chinese medicines and health supplements that contain substances listed in the Misuse of Drugs Act or the Poisons Act.
Needles, syringes, complementary health products, over-the-counter and prescription medicines illegal in abroad
Needles, syringes, complementary health products, over-the-counter and prescription medicines illegal in abroad

Other Important Facts About Prescription Medicines in abroad

Be aware of which medications require carrying a prescription or a letter from your doctor. Know that most countries permit only a 30-day supply of certain medicines.

Canadian visitors to the United States should be aware that their prescription medication may be subject to United States drug importation laws and regulations.

Importation of medications in United States, a 90-day supply is allowed only if the drug is not available in the United States.

Under the Misuse of Drugs Act, the burden of proof lies on the defendant, not on the government. Check the INCB Guidelines (for which prescription medicines illegal in abroad) if travelling with medications that are narcotics, psychotropics or mentioned in list. Be aware of medications with potential for abuse (e.g. anabolic steroids).

Other useful resources:

http://www.incb.org/incb/en/travellers/index.html

http://www.itervis.com/fda-recalls-prescription-drugs/

https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/health-safety/medication

Prescription Medicines Could Get You in Prison

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