can someone send me over the counter drugs abroad?
August 23, 2010 4:41 PM   Subscribe

I am in Peru long term. How possible is it for someone to send me Plan B/Emergency contraceptive and vitamin supplements from the United States via regular USPS mail? Or generally, does shipping "drugs" like these cause difficulties going through customs?
posted by dahliachewswell to Travel & Transportation around Peru (10 answers total)
According to this list you should be able to get a progestin-only emergency contraceptive from private pharmacies in Peru. (Last year, Peru banned public pharmacies from selling emergency contraception, but private pharmacies are not regulated in the same way.)

The following brands are supposedly available in Peru: Emkit, Glanique, Impreviat, PostDay, and Postinor-1.

From the ">US State Department: "Travelers should be aware that some drugs and other products readily available over the counter or by prescription in Peru are illegal in the United States. The prescription sedative flumitrapezan (Rohypnol) is one such drug; others may come on the market at any time. Although coca-leaf tea is a popular beverage and folk remedy for altitude sickness in Peru, possession of these tea bags, which are sold in most Peruvian supermarkets, is illegal in the United States."

These are all the restrictions on what you can and cannot mail to Peru via the USPS.

Best of luck!
posted by brina at 5:53 PM on August 23, 2010

I was in Peru a few months ago and found the folks working in pharmacies, even (especially!) out in the hinterlands, to be invariably friendly and helpful. Asking about vitamin supplements couldn't hurt, and depending on where you are you could probably ask about the ramifications of having a friend ship Plan B from home.
posted by Sara C. at 5:57 PM on August 23, 2010

Oops. Lost the State Dept. link, but on further inspection noticed that "contraceptives" are on the list of items the USPS cannot be legally shipped to Peru.

There must be a workaround, though.
posted by brina at 6:27 PM on August 23, 2010

You probably don't actually need vitamin supplements as long as you eat a decent and varied diet. From what I remember of my time in Peru, there's plenty of good quality produce on sale in the markets and shops. Some Peruvians may suffer from vitamin deficiencies but it's almost certainly because of poverty, not because the basics aren't there.
posted by rhymer at 12:42 AM on August 24, 2010

Do you know anyone from the embassy, or could you perhaps find your way into that social group?

Speaking as an expat living abroad, some of my most useful friends are those embassy members with access to the APO (i.e. a personal address with the embassy post office) who are kind enough to offer to have a package shipped to them on your behalf. Just remember to cook them a nice dinner and don't over-ask for said usage - maybe have like 6 months or so stocked up to be shipped at once. If they are items that brina above mentioned are illegal to ship via USPS to Peru, you deff want to ask said embassy friend about that before having it sent.

Anyway, I've never actually had to go this route, because I go home enough or someone in my group of friends is going home sometime in-between, and we're generally pretty good about announcing our upcoming trip and offering to bring back anything somebody might need us to, within reason. So, ask around?
posted by allkindsoftime at 2:15 AM on August 24, 2010

But, this is Peru, not Outer Mongolia!
You go into a private pharmacy and say:
"Hola, buenos dias, querría comprar un anti-conceptivo y unas vitaminas, ¿me puede recomendar unas marcas?"or if you want perfection "¿ puede recomendarme unas marcas?"

take a Spanish speaking friend with you if you don't speak the language.

(You have almost as much chance of getting hinky ingredients over the counter in Sheboygen as you do in Peru, if that's your main worry.)
posted by Wilder at 4:50 AM on August 24, 2010

Thank you for those of you who answered my original questions about logistics of shipping/muling things from the US!

To others:
I live in Peru. I know perfectly safe drugs are readily available here and yes, I frequent pharmacies and even speak to the people there in SPANISH (wow!). Also, they sell vegetables here AND they are a good source of vitamins and minerals? Who knew? I appreciate the advice, but I already know what I need and I am looking for specific things not available here, (although apparently finding an Emergency Contraceptive is a possibility, thank you a billion, brina, for doing my research for me! :) ) Any other info or experiences shipping things is greatly appreciated!
posted by dahliachewswell at 2:37 PM on August 24, 2010

Also, about the process of shipping, be ready to wait for longish times for packages and mostly pick them up from the POs, since they will usually not deliver to your home (few postal workers take turns to deliver packages in diferent districts). They may also charge you customs fees. Also, packages seldom get lost, but it's not unheard of.

I know you're interested in logistics of shipping, but just in case you NEED to get a pill in Peru, they refer to it as "pildora de emergencia" or "pildora del dia siguiente", and you may find it in medium to big cities, so plan accordingly. Sometimes they will recommend that you take an overdose of the regular pill, but I however, do not recomend it.
posted by Tarumba at 7:08 AM on August 25, 2010


I have, without knowing, shipped many of the prohibited items in Brita's list to friends and family. Never had a problem. I have even specified these on the customs label, and never heard a complaint.

My guess is these restrictions aren't really strict (of course, I'm talking about shoes, clothes and medicines, not "communist propaganda" or "pyrotechnic products").

Have a good time in Peru!
posted by Tarumba at 7:14 AM on August 25, 2010

Sometimes they will recommend that you take an overdose of the regular pill, but I however, do not recomend it.

If you're doing this under a pharmacist's instruction, it's perfectly legit. Plan B was basically developed as a way to market/monetize that particular workaround.
posted by Sara C. at 8:23 AM on August 25, 2010

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