How to get medication for a year while abroad
June 27, 2007 6:13 AM   Subscribe

What's the best solution for getting my medication for a year long trip around Europe?

My friend and I have been saving for the last 2 years for a year long trip to Europe. One last question I have is how am I going to get my medication while I"m there for so long?

1. I am only on one med, an antidepressant.
2. My US based medical insurance will end when I quit my job, the month before we leave.
3. We're going to purchase travel insurance through World Nomads

I know that I can't buy a year's worth at a time before I go and then have my parents mail it to me. Once I am off my US insurance, the prescription is $150 a month.

posted by nonstopflights to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Potential options are getting samples from your doctor. This is what I did with one or two medicies before I went abroad for six months.

But, they may be less likely to give you a year's worth of antidepressants than something else (potential for abuse etc).

Is the problem the cost, or the getting it to you in Europe? If the former, I have no idea. If the latter, you could have your parents fill it every month and mail it to you. It shouldn't be a problem for them to pick it up at the pharmacy instead of you (people do it all the time).
posted by misanthropicsarah at 6:16 AM on June 27, 2007

Most insurances will allow you to get three-month supplies via mail. If you can convince your doctor to write the prescription for 4x the dose you actually need (e.g., 80 mg daily of antidepressant when you need 20 mg daily), you can get a twelve-month supply masquerading as a three-month supply, all paid for and shipped to you by your insurance.

This does not work as well if you doctor is an ass or if you are already taking an upper-level recommendation dose. But I've had success with this in the past.
posted by bluenausea at 6:26 AM on June 27, 2007

If your situation permits it, I suggest following bluenausea's advice: rewrite the prescription for an upper dosage and then buy in advance.

Note that if you get the prescription rewritten, you & your doc will need to sort out what sizes of pill are available and how that relates to your present dosage. Basically, you want to find a way to get as many single-dose pills as possible (eg: four 20mg pills, not one 80mg pill).

The best way to do this is by determining what sizes are available, and then "upsizing" your prescription to a dosage level that DOES NOT match an existing pill size, but which IS divisible by one of the smaller pill sizes. This forces the pharmacist to give you many many small pills, rather than fewer giant pills.

When I travelled extensively I ordered meds in advance, at my usual dosage. This sucked financially, and I should have been smarter about it.
posted by aramaic at 7:01 AM on June 27, 2007

Samples it is. I quit my job right before I got married and moved overseas with my husband. His insurance wasn't going to cover me until we'd been married three months. I explained this to my doctor, who gave me a year's worth of birth control pills for free dollars.

The alternative is to look into the countries you will be traveling in. The same (free) birth control pills I got in the the US, which would have cost me $30 a month on insurance, now cost me $5 a month without insurance and are sold generic OTC in Korea.
posted by Brittanie at 7:14 AM on June 27, 2007

One important thing to keep in mind is to check with the embassies of the countries you will be visiting to see what types of controls there are on the medications you need. It would suck to to have needed medications confiscated at customs. It does happen. Plan ahead and look into where and if you can get the same prescription abroad.
posted by JJ86 at 7:27 AM on June 27, 2007

My doctor knew I was going overseas for a while, so she wrote on the prescription that I am allowed to buy two boxes instead of one. Doctors can be really helpful if you explain the situation.
posted by divabat at 7:41 AM on June 27, 2007

What if you ask your doctor about switching to a less expensive antidepressant? There may be good medical reasons for you to take the expensive one, but if not, then Paxil and Prozac are available as generics.
posted by happyturtle at 10:55 AM on June 27, 2007

I just asked this question at the pharmacy two days ago! You can buy a year's worth of meds at once as long as your doctor approves and it's not a controlled substance. The insurance, however, will likely not approve, which means you either have to purchase the meds out of pocket or convince a pharmacist to call your insurance company. I did this a few years ago but for only six months. I had a fantastic pharmacist who called my insurance company and got me some sort of leave of absence waiver and six months of generic Prozac.
posted by lunalaguna at 11:10 AM on June 27, 2007

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