What US prescription drugs are allowed in Southeast Asia?
April 13, 2011 6:27 AM   Subscribe

I'm traveling to Southeast Asia in two days, and need to determine if I can bring my prescription drugs with me into the region legally.

First off, I'm an American citizen, and I have three prescriptions: generic Adderall, Xanax, & Cialis. They're in my name, and in their prescription bottles. I'm going to Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, & Laos. I'm flying in a few days.

I can't seem to find any information on whether or not they're controlled substances in these countries. I've checked the embassy sites & are can't find the relevant links. I'd like to bring all three (Attention span! Lack of panic on the 20 hour flight! Great sex with the wife in 4 new countries!), but none are required.

Googling around gets me forum posts where people indicate that I should bring only enough for the flight & have a doctor's note. I don't have time to get a note, but I do have the original prescription bottles with the original labels. Any one have definitive sources for these countries? Should I be worried?
posted by anonymous to Travel & Transportation (5 answers total)
 
You should call the embassies for those countries and ask. Even if you found the information written somewhere, it's still best to call and ask, since rules change and sites don't get updated as often as we'd all like. If you're embarrassed to call (you shouldn't be!), I'm sure your wife would be happy to do it for you. Or heck, probably even one of us mefites.

And when you call, if you get anything other than "of course you can, that's fine" in response (e.g. "we used to not allow Adderall, but now it's ok" or something), make sure you take down the name and contact info of whomever you speak to just in case.
posted by phunniemee at 6:35 AM on April 13, 2011


I'll chime in to say that I have crossed many borders in SEA on foot, by bus, train and plane and have never, ever had a problem with this in 20+ years.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 7:46 AM on April 13, 2011


Nthing Twinbrook8. Have been to all 7 continents and nearly 70 countries and have never had a problem with prescription meds. Keep them in their original bottles and you should be fine. Having a doctor's note is just an extra precaution - you can just call your doctor's office and have them fax it. I have been to Thailand, Cambodia and Laos, just got back from Singapore and Myanmar via Bangkok and Taipei, and absolutely had no issues.

Relax and enjoy the trip!
posted by HeyAllie at 8:29 AM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


No. No. No. Unless I'm truly messing up some very elementary googling, Adderall contains amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. In Thailand both are classed as Type 1 Narcotics (.pdf from the Thai embassy in Denmark, same info in html at Erowid, sourced from the Thai Embassy in Ottawa.)

Section 65 of the Thai Narcotics Act 1979 (.doc) provides for a penalty of life imprisonment for anyone who imports a Type 1 Narcotic without ministerial permission. In the case of amphetamines or amphetamine derivatives, if the amount imported is more than 375mg of pure substance or more than 50 doses the penalty is death.

I would check this with both the State Department (who seem to suggest that there might be special circumstances exemptions for some drugs for personal medical use) and the Thai Embassy in Washington (I'm assuming you're from the US).

There are also some links under the "Special Circumstances" section of the State Department page above that may be useful. But just from a glance at them, the special circumstances exemptions do not relate to type 1 narcotics.

Finally, I'd be very happy to be wrong about all this, and you have my profound apologies if I am, but please check for youself.
posted by Ahab at 12:24 PM on April 13, 2011


I'll chime in to say that I have crossed many borders in SEA on foot, by bus, train and plane and have never, ever had a problem with this in 20+ years.

Yeah, land crossings between those countries are very low-key affairs; barely more than a rubber-stamp in your passport. If you have limited time for your research, I'd suggest focusing on the original landing, which I'd assume would be in the regional hub, Bangkok.

Having a doctor's note is just an extra precaution - you can just call your doctor's office and have them fax it.

Note that "just calling your doctor's office and having them fax it" could be prohibitively difficult at many of these border crossings, and even at the airport it would be a right royal pain in the ass. Call your doctor's office now & get yourself a copy - it will be a million times easier than trying to convince somebody with limited English that they "just" have to ring an unknown number in the US, then find a fax machine, and wait for a fax to arrive. It might sound simple, but it could take days, especially if you factor in the time difference.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:36 PM on April 13, 2011


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