Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Overseas Medication

Burlington, Vermont
Burlington, Vermont, home of no allergies!
Photo by Doug Kerr
I was in Vermont a few years ago, working on a contract and was pleasantly surprised to discover that my perpetual summer hay fever was gone. Sadly, it's the only place on the planet I've found which allows me to escape my annual three months of summer hell.

My niece is now here and she and I went to an apotheek (pharmacy) so I could get a nasal steroid spray for my sniffling, but no luck. Unlike the US (and I believe the UK), you have to have a prescription for them, so I need to go to a doctor. Apparently they're worried that I'd be lifting weights with my nose or something.

In the UK, by comparison, you can't buy asthma inhalers over the counter, something you could do in the US for as long as I can remember. Again, you have to go to a doctor. So this is a top travel tip: don't take over the counter medicine for granted. If you need some medication, take it with you or find out if your target country requires a prescription for it.


  1. I visit Canada once a year from the US. Some of the differences there astound me as an American. For example, in the US, Neosporin (topical salve for wounds) is OTC, but in Canada it's available by prescription only. On the other hand, you can walk up to a pharmacy counter in Canada and purchase Tylenol-1 (Acetaminophen with codeine), which can cause you big trouble in the US - if not from the law, then from your job (due to drug testing).

  2. I learned that in the UK, jet lag medication required a prescription. But here's the thing: how many Britons need jet lag medication? Isn't it by its very definition a problem for tourists?

    That said, when you don't have to pay 1000$ to visit a medical professional, I can see how these sorts of details get overlooked.