Insulin

I take insulin and of course need to use Syringes. I am concerned about taking a months supply with me to Italy.. American Airline says it is ok to get them on the plane but what about through Italian Customs? Can I buy it over the counter in Italy? I can get a prescription but I am concerned of that. I also take sleeping pills and have them in prescription bottles and properly labeled for the Untied States.. But then I am taking a controlled substance to another country. Does any one here have any experience with this?? Michelle Valrico FL

Posted by Michael
Seattle, WA, USA
5770 posts

The European authorities aren't going to care about your bottle of prescription sleeping pills. As for insulin, I'm assuming that it needs to stay refrigerated. Have you considered how you're going to do that on the long flight? When we went to Italy this past May, there was a woman near us who handed some medication to a flight attendant and asked her to refrigerate it. The flight attendant told her that they didn't have a refrigerator. (Hard to believe, but she stuck with that story.) They ended up rigging a lot of plastic bags within plastic bags with some regular ice and some dry ice they found. What a mess!

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
10884 posts

Customs is a walk through the "Nothing To Declare" door so no one is going to look at anything except maybe your backside if there is anyone standing by the door. Nothing to be concerned about.

Posted by Michelle
Valrico, FL, USA
120 posts

AS long as it is unopened it does not have to be refrigerated.. My concern is bring medication into another country. I am concerned that the customs agents will not understand English well and give me a hard time over it. I am a nurse and checked with my pharmacist It would be easier if I did not have to take a months supply and could get syringes in Italy.. Michelle

Posted by James
HENDERSON, Nevada, United States
46 posts

I spent last New Years in Rome and took enough pens for 2 weeks. We traveled through London and Rome and there was never an issue going through customs. My only issue was I could not find a place to dispose of needles and just brought them home with me. Buon Viaggio!

Posted by Michelle
Valrico, FL, USA
120 posts

I would get an empty plastic bottle with a top and take them to a hospital and ask them to dispose of them. as a nurse I would recommend you not carry them around much.. it is a biohazard to other people Michelle

Posted by Sheron
Alta Loma, CA, USA
1202 posts

Hi Michelle. You might consider an insulin cooling wallet such as the one in this link: http://www.readycareco.com/splashpage_frio.htm I saw them at my local CVS pharmacy & you can get them on-line of course. I've heard that they're very good at keeping insulin cool & I think you only need to refresh the cooling part of it every day or so. As far as disposing of the needles, I use a BD clipping device to clip off the needle & then I can dispose of the rest of the syringe anywhere: http://www.insulincase.com/BD-Safe-Clip-Insulin-Syringe-Needle-Clipper-P387.aspx I have not traveled with a ton of syringes as I normally use a pen-type syringe so I have traveled with 3 weeks worth of the needle tips (and at 3/day, the quantity adds up fast). I have never had trouble either getting through Security in the U.S. or at Customs in Italy. I do travel with a letter from my doctor stating that I use medications that require injection & that is why I travel with the needles but I've never been asked for it. My husband & I both travel with a lot of supplements & pills and we never take them in the original bottles. We use little baggies to separate the pills for each day for breakfast, lunch & dinner and we've never been questioned. I think to be on the safe side you should carry the original bottle for your controlled substance but don't worry too much about it...it is extremely doubtful that Customs will question you. Have a great trip!

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
10884 posts

Michelle = let me repeat this for you a bit more direct. You will not see or talk with a custom agent. You walk through a door or passage way that says, "nothing to declare." Done, finished !! You will speak for ten seconds with an immigration office who will stamp your passport and may ask, in good English, the purpose of your visit. He/She will have absolutely no interest in what you are carrying. You will smile and say, On Holiday. It is easy. You have nothing worry about. You are trying to make a mountain out of nothing.

Posted by Dean
El Cajon, CA, USA
126 posts

You do need to pass through security prior to boarding the plane. I have travelled to and from several European countries with about one months supplies of insulin, pump supplies and syringes and have never been stopped. I think it is good advice to carry a letter from your doctor explaining that you need to have these items due to your Diabetes. I also find it useful to learn how to say in the native language that I am a diabetic. I wear an insulin pump and was asked by security at St. Chapelle to remove my pump as I passed thru the metal detector. I just replied in French that I was diabetic and they let me pass thru without removing the pump.

Posted by Larry
Madison, WI, USA
7 posts

I just want to add my two cents' worth on the diabetic issue. I am a nurse who is a lover of travel, has been a type 1 diabetic for 25 years and am heading to Italy this fall for 3 weeks....Can't wait! To feel you need to refrigerate open bottles of insulin is very old school. You actually have it backwards - only need to refrigerate UNopened bottles that you are not in the process of using, for storage. I keep two sets (incl syringe, meters, pokers, insulin) actively going, one in my purse and one at home. The only time I may throw my insulin in a cooler is if I am at the beach for the day. I carry both sets when traveling, and always in my carry-on till I get to destination, never checked baggage. I do carry a note from doctor stating I am diabetic and what I need with me at all times....but have never had to use it. Also I would hope people would know to re-use your personal syringes. I use a syringe several times, until injecting starts to sting (dull needle), then switch it out. No need to make B-D richer off me....and no need to take nearly as many when traveling (I have NO hyperlipotrophy.) I also bring my used syringes home with me - or sometimes public restrooms will have needle boxes now (the last thing on a trip I am going to do is look for a hospital to dispose of my syringes). I also take my OTC meds in baggies, but a controlled substance I would leave in original container. Good idea Dean to know "I am diabetic" in native language! Frank--Too Funny!! Glad to know it's so easy - thanks!
Happy Travels! Annette (Larry's wife)

Posted by Michelle
Valrico, FL, USA
120 posts

I am very surprised.. I would think they would be concerned of illegal drug traffic. not to mention that a needle is a sharp instrument.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
10884 posts

I am sure they are very concerned about "illegal" drug trade but they are not stupid (contrary to our opinions sometimes) and recognize that a significant portion of the world population is diabetic. They will have seen needles and insulin before. A US prescription is not valid in Italy. You need a prescription from a local doctor. This is really a non-discussion.

Posted by Michelle
Valrico, FL, USA
120 posts

Why would anything be a non discussion Sir? Answering questions on this site is voluntary.. nobody is forcing anyone to answer. Michelle

Posted by Galen
Dallas, United States
390 posts

Michelle, My wife is also diabetic and has carried a boat load of supplies on each of our trips to Europe and other places. She also wears an insulin pump and has received the most grief from security/TSA agents here in the US about it, but has had no problem entering countries in Europe. She has carried at least a month's supply of unopened insulin and uses a cooler from www.frioinsulincoolingcase.com. She places other prescription drugs in baggies (easier to pack) and has the pharmacist print a second prescription label to carry along. She has a physician's statement also. Though she has never had an issue with syringes at customs, maybe one of the italians or italian residents will come along and answer whether syringes can be purchased by tourists without local prescriptions. I think you are getting some good answers/advice here. Have a great trip!