Drugs and Travel
Drugs and Travel
Travel medicine is unique in that drugs and vaccines are given to perfectly healthy people either to prevent an illness that they have only a remote chance of acquiring, e.g. Japanese encephalitis, or to treat an illness that they do not already have, e.g. travellers’ diarrhoea. It is therefore incumbent on travel health advisors to be fully familiar with the nature of the drugs/vaccines they use, the indications and contraindications and the individual cost/benefit ratios. It is useful to give travellers a printout about any drugs prescribed so that they can refer to it when overseas, where medical help may not be always available. It is also useful to know the cost of medicines because this may play a part in choosing a generic versus a proprietary brand. In the opinion of many, buying drugs on the internet is not to be encouraged because of doubts about quality and effectiveness. Purchasing drugs abroad may be easy but beware of the profusion of illicit and counterfeit drugs which are for sale at deceptively cheap prices. There are electronic methods being developed so that any drug purchased anywhere has an identifiable secure ID. However, such methods are not available in the places where they are most needed. Some drugs deteriorate over time, especially in warm climates, so that if the patient is given a large supply before travel, e.g doxycycline, there may be difficulty in storing it correctly. Finally, carriage of drugs across borders is fraught with danger, even if the drugs are accompanied by a doctor’s letter. All medications, including codeine, should be declared at Customs if problems are to be avoided.
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