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Get rid of big pill bottles but keep labels

I finally found a way to travel without the bulky med pill bottles, but keep the labels for documentation. I found an online suggestion to use a hair dryer to heat the labels so that you can melt the glue and easily peel off the label. That was too time-consuming because i had five bottles, so I filled the bottles with water just above the label's edge, then microwaved the whole batch at once, being careful not to melt the bottles. I was cautious, so I heated it three times to slowly heat the water so that the labels came off easily. Then I affixed the labels to my travel med organizer, or you can stick them on baggies or other smaller, or flat container.

Posted by
2454 posts

You can also ask your pharmacist to print out your labels, or take a photo of your labels with your phone. 😊

Posted by
421 posts

At my pharmacy the receipt comes printed with a part of it that is a small peel off label you can use that way.

Posted by
5034 posts

Yeah, the pharmacy has always given me labels just for the asking.

Posted by
4988 posts

Great idea, thx. All my meds are from online pharmacy, so this is a handy tip.

Posted by
471 posts

A question: Just how often has anybody been asked to show the original label of a pill bottle? Granted, I do only take one prescribed med and do take a picture of my bottle/ Nobody official has ever asked for anything. Has this happen to anyone? I'm just curious.

Posted by
1625 posts

I only worry about controlled substances to have an original label, and take the original bottle for that...everything else gets packed in small daily baggies and then those all go in a sandwich ziplock bag and off I go.

Posted by
18507 posts

Letizia; you of course mean "controlled substance" by the definition of the country you are traveling to. I would love to get my hands on the EU and each country outside of the EU's list.

I remember a post a while back where someone discovered that the antidepressant they were taking (I assume a controlled substance in the US) was flat illegal in the country they were going to.

I also dont know the rules in each country for requiring that the meds be in the original pharmacist issued packaging (lets not fight over bottles, its not the point); but I assume there is a strong possibility some do require it and none would object if you did.

On another recent thread an individual stated a preference for wearing natural fibers while flying in the even the plane caught fire in mid-air he didn't want to have the nylon glued to his skin and I joked about it to be reminded that the definition of Risk Management is taking those precautions that are in your power to take.

What is not relevant when responding to this sort of question is what i personally do as someday I might get nailed for it; the correct answer is leave them in the original packaging.

Posted by
1625 posts

Mister- Out of an abundance of caution I feel I can't go wrong with taking the pill bottle, exactly because I do not know all the different rules for each country, BUT I do know for the US and I don't want a problem trying to get back in. Never had a problem, but also don't want to kick myself later on for such a simple small fix.

Posted by
18507 posts

Letizia. I always carry extra, too. Could lose some, could have a delay getting home, might want to stay longer. Without them, I am dead, so cheap insurance and convenience.

Generally, 50% over, packed separately in the carry-on, while the main stash is in the personal item. One of the drugs, the most important, is not sold in Europe, so the peace of mind is nice.

Posted by
1625 posts

Well to get very personal I take with me a "just in case" medicine that is a schedule IV drug that has a high street value. Sometimes I very much need to take it, sometimes I don't, so yea I could leave with 30 pills and come with a full bottle of 30 pills (which is a reasonable amount for a trip). I know if I got stopped in a car with this medicine on me I better have a prescription, which my bottle clearly states I have. I Usually don't travel in a car with it, but if I am on my way to the airport, yup got it in my purse.

I also plan for worse case scenario and take a few days extra of all other meds with me, but more so for a delay in travel plans.

Posted by
1625 posts

"A question: Just how often has anybody been asked to show the original label of a pill bottle?"

Not a pill but a prescription gel for my arthritis, I carry it in the original box affixed with the prescription label just to be allowed for it to not fall under the carry on ounce limits.

Posted by
18507 posts

Letizia, you are correct. https://help.cbp.gov/s/article/Article-1160?language=en_US and i think its fair to assume that other countries might have similar requirements. How often do they get checked? Not really the point. Like how often do i get a speeding ticket; justifying speeding. But I understand the point.

*Title
Traveling with Medication
Summary
Date Published
12/28/2021 12:13 PM
Content

Prescription medications should be in their original containers with the doctor's prescription printed on the container. It is advised that you travel with no more than personal use quantities, a rule of thumb is no more than a 90 day supply. If your medications or devices are not in their original containers, you must have a copy of your prescription with you or a letter from your doctor. A valid prescription or doctors note is required on all medication entering the United States.
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for pharmaceutical admissibility determinations. If you have any questions as to whether a specific pharmaceutical may be imported into the United States, visit the FDA's website, or call (301) 796-0356.
If you are traveling with medication and have questions about the airport checkpoint screening process, and other special circumstances, you may call the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), 72 hours prior at (855) 787-2227 on weekdays, 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET and weekends/holidays, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET.
To learn what to expect on your next flight, view the video TSA Cares: Traveling with Medication | Transportation Security Administration.
For additional information about traveling with medication, visit FDA's web page on 5 Tips for Traveling to the U.S with Medications.

Article Number
000001444*

Posted by
881 posts

Mister E, the target "audience" for that CBP warning is foreign travelers entering the US. Of course the requirement applies to returning US citizens, too, so to be 100 percent compliant, one should carry all Rx in original packaging, that is pretty clearly the letter of the law.

I also agree with you that it is probably safe to assume you will encounter similar requirements entering another country. I am familiar with Japan, and you really need to study their stringent Rx laws very carefully - they prohibit many common over the counter cold medicines, for instance, and they impose strict quantity limits on many other meds including anything you take for depression.

So I am traveling to France next month, and here is the link to their embassy, and indeed, you are required to travel with meds in original containers. It appears that for non-narcotic Rx, while it says you should only have enough for the duration or your trip, it also says you can have up to a 90 day supply (wiggle room I assume because of the prevalence of 90 day Rx supplies), but there are strict quantity limits for "narcotics" and possibly other scheduled drugs (what about psychotropics?), and it appears you must declare these at customs, with you prescription translated into French. https://franceintheus.org/spip.php?article791

What to do? I am thinking about it...

Posted by
881 posts

Although not very applicable to this discussion of foreign travel, the TSA does not require you to carry Rx in original packaging. Of course this applies to flying within the US, and once you leave the US you are subject to the rules of other countries, and when you return to the US, you are subject to the CBP rules, not TSA.

https://www.tsa.gov/travel/travel-tips/can-you-pack-your-meds-pill-case-and-more-questions-answered

At least when you go through security in the US enroute to a foreign destination, you will not be in violation. of any TSA rules if you have unmarked pill containers with your daily pills, etc, and you comply with the rules on liquid meds. But what can happen on the other end of your flight abroad is another matter...

Posted by
1152 posts

I take a few weeks extra supply of prescriptions. I started when I read about cruise ship passengers being put into quarantine and running out of medicines while prohibited from leaving their ships. (Remember the Diamond Princess in Japan at the start of the COVID pandemic?) Quarantines have been imposed as a result of COVID in other situations, too.

Besides viruses, circumstances have also caused unexpected delays. For example, remember when flights were grounded when a volcano erupted in Iceland, spewing lots of ash that caused delays for many travelers? Or when all flights were suspended after 9/11? These situations are stressful enough that I wouldn't also want to be stressed about running out of some medications.

Posted by
899 posts

I print out my prescriptions from my MyChart account. They go in a quart sized Ziploc with my tiny Ziploc daily doses plus about a week extra just in case. I also have a couple of liquid meds like nasal spray. The print out is mainly in the very unlikely case that I needed medical care or a refill.

Posted by
881 posts

I have deleted some of my early postings in this thread because this discussion has helped me sort out what I will do on my trip to France in 2 weeks vs what I have done previously.

In the past, I carried all Rx in daily pill cases, but I never did carry the original packaging. For my upcoming trip I will carry on all of my Rx in original packaging with the Rx label affixed (bottles for pills, other packaging for gels and injectables) so that I will be in compliance in case I am questioned at the border. Knock on wood, I have never had an issue, never had to declare anything or been subject to an inspection, but this morning I did a test packing of my carry on and it really is no bother carrying the Rx in original packaging.

Thanks to all who contributed to this discussion, it made me rethink my way of doing things. Gives me one less thing to be anxious about, I do enough of that with leaving the US for a month, having someone check on the house, get the yard done, etc.

Posted by
18507 posts

JoJo, where you and I might be a bit more cautious it could be because the meds are literally life and death. And there is always a chance (like in my case) where the drug is not available in Europe. I am not saying I comply every trip, but I dont want to be responsible for giving advice that ended up really screwing up someone's trip. The US law was an example of what you might expect, but it can be even more confusing. Look at the UK requirement: https://www.gov.uk/travelling-controlled-drugs

And it "never" gets checked is bad planning. You know the $10,000 cash limit for leaving the US. It "never" gets checked either. What are they going to do, search your wallet. Well, I got checked once. Turns out they have Currency Dogs that some how sniff out large sums of cash, sort of the way my ex-wife did. I had a huge wad of bills, almost 300.000 in relatively small bills and got caught by the dog. Thank G-d it was 300.000 in Hungarian forints.

And I have had them pull my syringes out of my bag once, give me a funny look and put them back. In that case they were searching for something else that looked odd in the x-ray, but thats how a bunch of pills in baggies might get caught. Not for the pills, just part of a check for something else. In the Istanbul airport every carryon going to the US gets searched at the gate; another time you could be discovered.

Posted by
881 posts

JoJo, where you and I might be a bit more cautious it could be because the meds are literally life and death. And there is always a chance (like in my case) where the drug is not available in Europe. I am not saying I comply every trip, but I dont want to be responsible for giving advice that ended up really screwing up someone's trip.

I agree with you, Mister E, and your philosophy is a big part of the reason I have changed my attitude. I do not want to give advice, no matter what my experience has been in the past, that is contrary to the letter of the law. Also, while I do not take anything that is too exotic, I don't actually know if it would be easy to replace in Europe, so the last thing I need to have happen is for some border control agent to make me dump my unmarked meds into a waste bin...I have to deal with the risk of losing or having my meds "stolen" no matter what I do (in original packaging or pill packs), but that is a risk I mitigate as best I can.

I wish everyone good luck on this. I try to manage my risks and allay some of my anxiety over these trips, which I hate to say has gotten worse as I have gotten older...that is another story, I guess...

Posted by
49 posts

Thanks for ideas. I have a few conditions (nothing terribly serious except a seizure disorder that is controlled at this point--well of course I need the meds though). So I take 5-6 prescription meds. All those bottles take up so much space! But the labels and a sheet... that would be critical. (TSA is not interested--but customs might be). I take two highly controlled medications, so I am going to take the bottle/jar. (One of them is a cream.) Yikes complicated to travel.

Also since medications may have a different name in Europe it's good to know both generic US names but what they might be called in some other countries.

BTW, the following might be controlled outside the US (and there may be others): anti-anxiety drugs, (regardless of why you are taking), ADHD drugs, steroids including testosterone, pain medication (not including NSAIDs), etc.

Posted by
49 posts

I saw my PA yesterday and she handed me a list of what I was taking, doses, etc. Still may take controlled substance in the bottle (I only take one as of yesterday). Seems like she was prepared for this. Note: I always put in my carry-on. Technically both my suitcase and backpack are "carry ons". But I check the larger one.