In Asia for 2 weeks, daily prescription was lost in transit...
March 6, 2018 9:41 PM   Subscribe

On a 2 week business trip with stops in China, Japan, Taiwan. I noticed that my daily meds which were in my carry on luggage must have fallen out somewhere between the airport and the hotel after going through customs.

My only daily medication is Wellbutrin (as generic Buproprion) 300XL, which I've been on for a long time. I've missed a day or two in the past before, but never longer than a week, and I am concerned about withdrawal symptoms, which typically don't start until 5 days after the last dose. The symptoms seem to vary a lot, but I am concerned that they will negatively impact my ability to work.
A colleague suggested I have my wife FedEx some meds, but I wonder about customs and the big storm in the Northeast creating problems for a coordinated arrival. So, I think the smart thing to do is try to get some while I am here.
I'm seeking a recommendation for a clinic for such a situation, and bonus points for one in China that will not give me counterfeit medication (I realize I may need to wait until Japan for this) I'm in Beijing until the 10th, and Osaka right after that.
posted by eusebis_w_adorno to Travel & Transportation (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I think you might find the withdrawal effects pretty mild compared to SSRIs, but makes sense that you want your meds. I don't think it's easy to get care w/o travelers' healthcare. In Shanghai you might have luck with Parkway. But the best bet in Beijing might be hotel concierge if you're with a big outfit.
posted by flyingfork at 10:12 PM on March 6, 2018

Watch out for Japan - they are weird about medications without prescription, and a quick google says Buproprion isn't available there. People have had serious issues bringing in Ritalin without prescriptions. I would get a doctor written prescription for whatever meds you need in Beijing or Shanghai, and have it properly signed and on letterhead, ready for customs.

If you're at a good business hotel (5-6 star), the concierge should be able to recommend a proper place. Otherwise, I would go to an International SOS Clinic (Beijing). They're relatively expensive, but they are solid. My second international reference actually just merged with them in Beijing - Raffles Medical, a Singapore-chain that should be able to prescribe what you need.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 1:01 AM on March 7, 2018 [5 favorites]

I also noticed Bupropion isn't sold in Japan, even by prescription according to Japanese Wikipedia. has a list of the various brand names used around the world though, and it looks like China and Taiwan both have local versions.
posted by p3t3 at 1:09 AM on March 7, 2018 [1 favorite]

First, I'd call your doctor at home and ask what they think might work in the interim medically, and what the risks are - especially whether a generic would be possible, or if there are other ways around this. As you know, Wellbutrin/buproprion is globally available, but usually requires a prescription.

Also, if you have travel insurance, I would suggest ringing them and asking for a referral to a trusted doctor/clinic in Beijing and then filling the prescription at the clinic itself.

The Japanese embassy in the US talks about bringing in medication here
. Japan's Ministry of Health goes into more detail here.

Honestly, it sounds like quite a lot of footwork may be required even in normal circumstances, so do read up and perhaps plan some time to manage to obtain what you need in Beijing with the proper documentation and talk to customs on arrival in Japan.

That said - it also appears that if you're travelling with a small supply - say enough for just a few days until you get home - then the documentary burden is less significant/not applicable.

What I would do, since you're landing in Osaka, is contact the Kinki Regional Bureau of Health and Welfare, where, were you to have had more notice, you would have submitted and received back a Yakkan Shoumei document permitting you (or not) to import your Wellbutrin.

You can call them on +81-6-6942-4096 and ask for their advice. Now, I do wonder whether the person who answers the phone initially will speak English, but they are used to dealing with English language forms so perhaps they can help or at least give you some advice - it is remarkably hard to Google whether Wellbutrin is simply not sold/marketed in Japan, or if it is specifically banned from importation. Also - if you can manage to get a new prescription tomorrow and somehow also get Japan to tell you it's OK to do this, you may be able to email ( or fax (+81-6-6942-2472) the forms above if they're necessary and they'll email you back the approval for you to present to Japan Customs when you arrive.

Good luck!
posted by mdonley at 4:42 AM on March 7, 2018 [2 favorites]

Your embassy in any of these countries should also be able to help you. I once got very sick in China on a trip, and my mom called the embassy, who quickly got me in to an English speaking doctor in Shanghai who took great care of me.
posted by Caravantea at 7:32 PM on March 7, 2018

Thank you everyone for the answers. I went to the Raffles clinic today and very easily got a supply of meds to last for the duration of my trip over here.
posted by eusebis_w_adorno at 8:35 PM on March 7, 2018 [2 favorites]

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