By Russ and Tiña De Maris
Not long ago, we ran a video tip showing how easy it is to get drug prescription refills while traveling. The upshot of the video was to simply carry your pill bottles with you, and when you get close, take them to a pharmacy wherever you are, and ask the local pharmacist to have the prescription transferred to that pharmacy.
One of our alert readers pointed out this could be a problem for Americans traveling in Canada – that Canadian pharmacies can only fill prescriptions written by Canadian docs, and that the reverse is also true – prescriptions written by Canadian doctors can’t be filled in the United States.
Yet another alert reader, Joel Lefkowitz cautions that while that advice may be true in some places, it ain’t necessarily so across the board. Joel knows of what he speaks – he’s a retired pharmacist from the Sunshine State of Florida. Well, it all got us to thinking, there must be more to the picture. And it’s true.
We propounded this question to authorities in several states popular to snowbirds, and here’s the answers we received:
Florida writes, “[Florida] law allows the pharmacist to fill a prescription from Canada only if the pharmacist determines that the physician writing the prescription is appropriately licensed in Canada and the pharmacist determines in the exercise of her or his professional judgment, that the order is valid and necessary for the treatment of a chronic or recurrent illness.”
Both Texas and Arizona state officials gave us a similar response, a prescription written by a Canadian physician would generally be acceptable to be filled. While we could not get an official comment from any California state officials, across the board, several California pharmacists told us they COULD NOT fill prescriptions unless they were written by U.S. physicians.
But beware; one overarching federal law trumps all of this. In order to get a prescription for a controlled substance filled, the prescription MUST be written by a physician with a valid Drug Enforcement Agency number – and those DEA numbers are issued only to U.S. providers.
Bottom line: If you’re from out of the U.S. and traveling the country, bring enough of your medications to cover your needs, or call a pharmacy in the state you’ll be traveling through to find out if you can get your prescriptions filled.