In-flight medicines: rules, advice and everything you need to know

When you are about to leave for a trip, you usually prepare a first aid kit with the necessary medicines to continue the therapy you are following or cope with any unforeseen unforeseen events such as fever, nausea, diarrhea, muscle aches, tonsillitis, injury. But the doubts are: which medicines can be taken by plane? Are there drugs banned abroad? Here is a useful guide to know all the rules relating to the transport of medicines by air.

Drugs on board and medicines in hand luggage

We start by informing you that medicines are allowed in hand luggage. Medicines in syrup or drops must comply with the rules on liquids and can therefore be transported in packages not exceeding 100 ml (for a total of liquids not exceeding 1000 ml) and placed in a transparent plastic bag that can be closed.

They are exempted from the limits on liquids only if – specifies the EU Regulation n.185/2010 of the Commission of 4 March 2010 – they must be used during the flight and are unquestionably necessary for medical purposes or for a special dietary regime, including baby food. Proof of the authenticity of the exempted liquid must be provided on request. In cases such as these for travel to Europe and the rest of the world, it is necessary to bring the prescription with you in English, so that it can be shown upon request at airport security checks. The prescription must contain the patient’s data, his date of birth, the date of the prescription, the doctor’s data and, in particular, those of medicine, with the relative dosage.

On the other hand, medicines in tablets on the plane can be easily transported and there are no restrictions or rules to follow.

It is also possible to transport medicines in the hold, but do not forget that, in addition to the fact that the suitcase may be lost or damaged, some medicines, such as insulin, cannot be stored due to the change in temperature and the risk of freezing.  

Restricted medicines in the country of destination

It is advisable to limit the transport of medicines by air to what is really necessary for the duration of the journey. In particular within the countries of the European Union it is possible to transport medicine for a use not exceeding 3 months.  

As you already know, it is generally possible to take medication by air to Europe without any problems, provided that it is for personal use only. In contrast, other countries such as India, Pakistan, Thailand or the United States have stricter regulations.

If, for example, you are using contact lenses and your destination is the United States, not only will you not be able to carry more than 100 ml of solution in your hand luggage, but you will also need a medical prescription to buy new contact lenses.

If you’re afraid of flying and you’re looking forward to so many hours of flying, whether you’re flying to Mexico or the United States or Japan, you can take a few valerian tablets with you!

Transporting medicines by air: our advice

If you are suffering from a chronic or pre-existing illness or if you are travelling with babies or children, your doctor will be able to give you the best help.

Depending on the destination of your trip, vaccinations and prophylaxis may be recommended, as well as preventive measures to be taken depending on hygienic conditions or endemic diseases.

In addition to the doctor, the pharmacist can also give you valuable advice on which medicines to take by plane and help you to know if you will find certain medicines in your travel destination (composition, name, equivalent brands) or which medicines need a medical prescription to be purchased abroad.  

Once you have gathered all the necessary information, you can finally prepare your travel kit and take the medications by plane, which are absolutely essential for you. To prevent any unexpected situation in addition to the drugs needed for your medical treatment, you should bring with you analgesics, anti-inflammatories, antidiarrheals, broad-spectrum antibiotics, plasters, disinfectant, some sterile syringes and necessary for a quick dressing, a mosquito repellent and a cream anti-scald.

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