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Canadians can't take meds to US if they are available there?

Travel Forums General Talk Canadians can't take meds to US if they are available there?

1. Posted by Belize Me (Full Member 137 posts) 10y

Anyone had problems with this ruling?

http://www.voyage.gc.ca/main/sos/ci/cur-en.asp?txt_ID=752

Canadian visitors to the United States should be aware that their personal medication may be subject to U.S. drug importation laws and regulations.

In general, personal importation of a 90-day (three month) supply of medication is allowed, but only if the drug is not available in the United States.

For further information, please visit the Web site of the US Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/ora/import/pipinfo.htm

[ Edit: Edited at Aug 5, 2006 4:31 PM by Belize Me ]

2. Posted by Cupcake (Travel Guru 8468 posts) 10y

I read the article and it says a 90 days supply is fine (of anything) it is too make sure it isn't brought in for resale, but only for personal use. I have a morphine perscription, I have a feeling I might have a problem bringing that into a LOT of countries...:(

3. Posted by Belize Me (Full Member 137 posts) 10y

Quoting Cupcake: I read the article and it says a 90 days supply is fine (of anything)

I read the article also (before I posted originally) and it definitely does not say that a 90 day supply of anything is fine. It states that if a drug is manufacturered in the US, it has to be purchased in the US, which is exactly what the Canadian government site reported. See the Canadian url in my original post. I'm sure the Cdn. gov. would read and re-read such an important US ruling before posting recommendations for Canadians on their official website.

Here is the excerpt from the US guidance article (paragraph 8). "Likewise, a drug such as Valium is available in the U.S. and, as such, a foreign-made version of the U.S. approved drug would not generally be considered a candidate to be permitted entry under the guidance".
They are not just talking about valium, they are talking about any drug that is available in the United States. The US gov. url is included in my original post if you want to re-read.

Quoting Cupcake:.....it is too make sure it isn't brought in for resale, but only for personal use. I have a morphine perscription, I have a feeling I might have a problem bringing that into a LOT of countries

You're not a Canadian travelling to the US...that is what my original post was about. ;)

The ruling will affect a lot of Canadian 'snowbirds' who winter in Florida and Arizona etc. for longer than 3 months. I guess they would either have to find a US physician willing to refill their prescriptions, or find another warm country to go to during the winter. I've been talking to a lot of people who are re-considering their winter holiday destinations simply because the US government is making things very difficult for tourists.

4. Posted by Isadora (Travel Guru 13926 posts) 10y

You can thank the pharmaceutical companies and their lobbying power for the regulations. But, with that said, and whether it is right or wrong (I vote wrong) - it is what it is for the moment.

I would think that Canadian snowbirds, especially those spending months at a time in the US, will have copies of their prescriptions with them. They may not have needed them until now, but no one on prescription meds should ever travel without a copy of their prescription. Even before the regulations, in many areas, an empty labeled bottle would not have been sufficient enough to have the medication refilled if the patient and/or prescribing physician wasn't a resident of the US.

I would also think that those who are "regular" snowbirds (those who have been residing here in winter over the years) would already have a physician, and possibly a pharmacy, they use when here. The regulations are an inconvenience for Canadians and designed to keep us from buying cheaper medications from Canada. They do not, however, keep someone from obtaining the meds that they need.

The holiday visitor from Canada rarely spends more than one month visiting the US. The amount of medication that they carry should cover them for that period and kept in a labeled container. A copy of the prescription should also be in their possession. The regulations do not concern those visitors. The long term (3 months or more) part-time residents will be the ones most affected, but only because the cost of their medication will be at US prices.

Though, I'm sure there will be some, especially those taking a large number of expensive medications, that may change their winter residency plans, but I am hard-pressed to think it will be many. There are other countries out there that will only allow you to enter with the amount of medication you need for your visit. If you are staying longer than 30 days, you are required to fill your prescription there. (Another good reason to carry a health letter from your own physician, listing your meds.)

[ Edit: Edited at Aug 7, 2006 8:28 AM by Isadora ]

5. Posted by Belize Me (Full Member 137 posts) 10y

I personally couldn't care less about the US legislation really,...I don't carry drugs while travelling...prescription or otherwise.

The Govt. of Canada website posting was to inform Canadian travellers (who would be spending more than 90 days in the US) about the legislation, and I thought Canadian TP'ers might find it interesting. The legislation goes as far as to say that it is up to the discretion of US customs whether or not to confiscate. Canadians who take prescription drugs that are not available legally in the US (even with a prescription) could very well be in deep doo doo.

Read it/believe it or neither....as you see fit...I didn't write the article...I'm just the messenger. IMO it's just another money grab.

Regarding the number of Canadians that spend the winter (November - April) in Florida, I personally know quite a few, but I have no statistics to support any claims about the exact number who spend more than three months at a time in the US. If those people change their plans...so be it. It would be a loss to the economy of the US towns/cities where they reside during the winter, but other than that, I don't think most people would give two hoots about it.

Having said that, thank you Isadora for confirming that 'it is what it is for the moment', and also for reminding everyone it is never a good idea to travel without a copy of their prescriptions... no matter what country you are visiting.

6. Posted by Isadora (Travel Guru 13926 posts) 10y

My apologies if I read more into your post than what was meant. I agree with you completely that Canadian travelers should be fully aware of the regulations before they leave home. Forewarned is usually forearmed, and when it comes to medications that someone needs, they should be informed. And, as someone who travels with 5 prescription meds, information such as this is important to know. (Granted, I'm live in the US, but if the tables were turned, I'd want to know!) Again, I apologize for taking the discussion in a direction it didn't need to go... ;)

Regarding the number of Canadians that spend the winter (November - April) in Florida, I personally know quite a few, but I have no statistics to support any claims about the exact number who spend more than three months at a time in the US.

My comment was meant to delineate between the holiday traveler (short term) and those who reside here temporarily over winter (90 days +). I do have a suggestion for those who fall into the long term catagory (90+). Speak with your attending physician about all meds they have prescribed. They will know, or have the resources available, and can pinpoint which ones will be unavailable here. Having worked for many years in the pharmaceutical industry, I know there are few drugs that don't have an equally affective alternative and consider changing meds to an alternative available in the US and Canada. (Until this prescription drug "war" is over, it's the best way to work within the system. Albeit, a pain in the a**!!)

It would be a loss to the economy of the US towns/cities where they reside during the winter, but other than that, I don't think most people would give two hoots about it.

It would actually be nice to think that there are enough "snowbirds" from Canada to make a dent in the economy of the areas they reside. When the reasoning behind the decline was realized, it might just be a cause for change in the regs. But, I think that's wishful thinking on my behalf... And, you're right - most people won't give two hoots. I, for one, do because I find this a rediculous regulation. (Needless to say, I'm not a big fan of the industry that used to pay my salary... But, I also digress - again.)

7. Posted by Belize Me (Full Member 137 posts) 10y

Isadora...no apology necessary. Your's was an interesting read no matter where you thought I was headed; which honestly was actually no where at the time, but since we're discussing it, I went back and re-read the US gov't website's posting.

If I'm reading it correctly, it could very well affect short term Canadian vacationers to the US also, if they are taking prescription meds that are not sanctioned by the US Food and Drug Administration.

Granted it says that refusal to allow entry, or confiscation of the 'illegal' prescription drugs, would be at the discretion of customs, but that leaves the door wide open for personal decision making which could open a big can of worms I think.

8. Posted by Cupcake (Travel Guru 8468 posts) 10y

Belize, my apology is necessary....I re-read the article and I am sorry...I totally misread it. It does piss me off though...it is just another way for the drug companys to make money...totally ridiculous!

9. Posted by ChubbDub (Full Member 132 posts) 10y

Thanks NAFTA. Benefits all us Canadians.