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Logistics for importing >3 months prescription medicine

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13 posts
1 review
Logistics for importing >3 months prescription medicine

This is a 2nd post related to my move to Sydney (first was at: https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g255060-i122-k9666504-Transport_at_SYD_for_solo_traveller_with_a_lot_of_luggage-Sydney_New_South_Wales.html)

I have a 12 month physical supply of prescription medication in the United States. The prescription was granted for a medication by a U.S physician. In Australia, the medication would be considered Schedule 4 (prescription required).

The TGA is very clear that you may not carry more than a 3 months supply into the country. (Source: https://www.tga.gov.au/entering-australia).

On the border agency website (Source: http://www.border.gov.au/Trav/Ente/Goin/Arrival), it says, "If you are carrying more than a three month supply of prescription medication, the medicine should be declared on arrival. We suggest you keep it in the original packaging."

This language suggests that it indeed is possible to bring more than 3 months of medication into the country. I reached out to the TGA, and they reiterated 3 months is the limit. My specific questions are:

1. I don't want to break any laws, so is it fair to say the 3 month supply limit is a clear rule?

2. How do I operationalize the process of bringing in the medicine into the country that I cannot carry on the plane? The TGA referred me to the personal importation scheme, but it's not clear what the specific procedures are. Would it be as simple as: Obtain a prescription from an Australian licensed doctor for the same medication, arrange for a relative to send a 3 month supply at a time with a copy of the prescription in the shipping box?

I only have one opportunity to get this right and want to avoid any surprises at the airport customs. Your continued insight is very appreciated. Thanks

Edited: 06 July 2016, 09:48
Melbourne, Australia
Destination Expert
for Perth, Antarctic Adventures
Level Contributor
17,044 posts
30 reviews
1. Re: Logistics for importing >3 months prescription medicine

Honestly your best and only resource for a question like this has to be the Border authorities.

You cannot hope to get 100% reliable and correct info from strangers on the net.

You can also take a look at Medicare.gov.au it has pages for travellers and info on reciprocal agreements etc.

At best - and this is not definitive advice in any way - you would likely pay the full scheduled fee at a doctors office and the full non PBS price for any prescriptions that doctor writes for you. This I know purely because my doctors office deals with foreign students and I hear the translator explaining that to them.

So that is purely hear say and a broad assumption from me.

Get what you can in writing from TGA and Border and search the Medicare page for the additional guidance.

Brisbane, Australia
Destination Expert
for Brisbane
Level Contributor
13,075 posts
117 reviews
2. Re: Logistics for importing >3 months prescription medicine

An Australian doctor won't necessarily give you a script for the same medication ... there is no guarantee of that at all. The doctor you see will make that decision.

Level Contributor
13 posts
1 review
3. Re: Logistics for importing >3 months prescription medicine

@PerfectlyPerth: Agree, I have sent notes to the Border authority and TGA. Unfortunately, I fall into a grey area (I am making a transition to a long term stay in the country, and the allowances really only help short term travelers). The TGA responded with their boiler plate language, so I will see if the Border authority comes back with a better response.

@able58: Understand there are no guarantees. Let's say the same prescription was granted, do the procedures I typed in my original post make sense? Amazingly, I cannot find any guidance on how you would ship a package and be compliant with the personal importation scheme.

Edited: 06 July 2016, 10:43
Buckfastleigh...
Level Contributor
86 posts
784 reviews
4. Re: Logistics for importing >3 months prescription medicine

Oh, bugger

My wife is on daily medication for high blood pressure and is also on inhalers for asthma, and may yet have more medication after recent DCIS surgery.

We are going to be away from the UK for nearly 6 months, starting with a few days in Abu Dhabi, then 11 1/2 weeks Aus, 8 weeks NZ, 2 weeks Hawaii, 1 week Vancover.

We had intended to take prescriptions and doctor's letter but hadn't even thought about limitations on amounts of prescription medicines.

I'm sure this must happen to many people so should be solvable but it is a complication I hadn't anticipated nor particularly want.

Brisbane, Australia
Destination Expert
for Brisbane
Level Contributor
13,075 posts
117 reviews
5. Re: Logistics for importing >3 months prescription medicine

From what I know you can import your own medication with a US prescription ... you can get an Australian script for imported medications however you probably can't get a script filled in the US with an Australian script. That's the problem.

If your US doctor will write you a years worth of scripts you can then import 3 months worth at a time you are good to go.

Edited: 06 July 2016, 17:24
Brisbane, Australia
Destination Expert
for Brisbane
Level Contributor
13,075 posts
117 reviews
6. Re: Logistics for importing >3 months prescription medicine

PipPaul ... UK citizens have reciprocal arrangements with our health care system ... if you are here for six months you should get a Medicare card for use while here ... that will give you easy access to doctors or hospitals.

I "think" you can just buy inhalers over the counter here, not 100% sure of that.

Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
1,670 posts
30 reviews
7. Re: Logistics for importing >3 months prescription medicine

You found this:

"If you are carrying more than a three month supply of prescription medication, the medicine should be declared on arrival. We suggest you keep it in the original packaging."

If that's correct, easy as!

Declare the medication, keep it in the packaging, maybe even get a note from your doctor.

How long are you holidaying in australia for?

Level Contributor
13 posts
1 review
8. Re: Logistics for importing >3 months prescription medicine

I am moving to Australia under a 4 year visa. The problem is there is other written text contradicting the statement I found. Specifically, there is clear language stating the maximum amount of prescription medicine you can bring is 3 months.

Perth, Australia
Level Contributor
7,065 posts
49 reviews
9. Re: Logistics for importing >3 months prescription medicine

I must be missing something. Mike, if you are moving here for 4 years, won't you start a doctor/patient relationship with an Aus Doctor and be able to obtain any medication deemed necessary referred from said Dr? Why the need to import from the US? (Excluding the fact that you have 12 months "physical supply" so obviously would prefer to use it but may need to just see that as a sunk cost of moving).

Edited: 06 July 2016, 19:11
Level Contributor
13 posts
1 review
10. Re: Logistics for importing >3 months prescription medicine

Exactly the point. It's a considerably more cheap medicine in the United States. It would be a waste to throw a 1 year supply away and a silly extra cost to incur.