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Old 30-07-2014, 14:28   #1
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Question Prescription Meds in the US

Hi Guys
I have read the previous threads on this subject and it seems that prescription drugs are fairly easy to get in the Caribbean. We are sailing from the UK this autumn to the Caribbean and up into the US for the hurricane season. Expect to be out for two to three years but will go back to UK annually to check the house (and grand kids),
How will we be able to purchase (no insurance) standard asthma and generic blood pressure tablets in the US. Will a UK Doctor's prescription be OK? Is it still the same in the Caribbean?
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Old 30-07-2014, 14:59   #2
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Re: Prescription Meds in the US

The Rx drug situation in the US varies by state, so you might want to check for the specific states that you will be in. Or consider having your meds shipped to you, shipped ahead, filled for a "vacation refill" which is often longer than the normal fill.

In some states, like NY, even if you present an rx from another state, it will be filled ONCE and then cancelled. One fill is all you get, even if the Rx says "May be refilled six times."

So, whatever our federal laws allow for this, you need to check individual STATE laws as they are still partly sovereign over pharmacies.

For that matter, there may also be a limit (i.e. 90-day supply?) to what Customs will allow you to bring in. They will want original containers and proper labels, of course.
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Old 30-07-2014, 15:12   #3
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Re: Prescription Meds in the US

You won't be able to use a prescription from a UK doc in the US. That said, once you are in the USA it would be easy to visit an urgent care and get prescriptions for asthma and BP meds. The BP meds will likely be generic and cheap, but I think you will be shocked at what you will pay for inhalers. An albuterol HFA runs about $70 and if you need inhaled steroids, well, brace yourself. You would do much better to have your asthma medications sent from the UK.
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Old 30-07-2014, 15:19   #4
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Re: Prescription Meds in the US

Speaking of shocking costs, www.goodrx.com (smartphone app too) can be a good way to be sure you're getting a good cash price at pharmacies in the US. There are other "discount rx plans" but this one generates a coupon on the spot, no joining needed.

And of course some of the drug and supermarket chains have extremely low cost fills for some of the common medicines, so anyone who is buying meds for cash can sometimes save a huge amount by just doing some homework before they buy.

I'd bet the cost of having meds fedexed over, or sent by postal "priority" packet service of some type (no customs brokerage that way) would still be less than half the price of seeing a doctor for an rx, even at a care clinic. Much simpler that way, if your regular pharmacy can post them to you, or you can leave a prepaid mailer with them, all set to go.
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Old 30-07-2014, 15:31   #5
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Re: Prescription Meds in the US

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Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
Speaking of shocking costs, www.goodrx.com (smartphone app too) can be a good way to be sure you're getting a good cash price at pharmacies in the US. There are other "discount rx plans" but this one generates a coupon on the spot, no joining needed.

And sometimes if you take the goodrx coupons in you get a BETTER price than the coupon once they enroll you in their "program" (that is what I found at Target)

Generic BP medicine is cheap (I pay $10 for a 90-day supply no insurance involved)
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Old 01-08-2014, 07:30   #6
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Re: Prescription Meds in the US

As advised, you'll need to hit a clinic up for a US script. We have places like CVS, Walgreens and rite aid and centra care that are both a pharmacy and have a medical professional to make this happen... just google the pharmacy to ensure the specific one has this service, not all do.

Keep in mind some places like walmart and publix (grocery store), have free script fills on generic meds for BP, antibiotics and such. So stock up on your antibiotics there. Again google their site, or call their pharmacy for the list of free meds, some are only $5 for a 30 day fill. Your inhalers are much more expensive though. THe above advice for the inhalers is excellent.

General fees are about $80 a visit, in uS $$.
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Old 01-08-2014, 10:06   #7
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Re: Prescription Meds in the US

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Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
For that matter, there may also be a limit (i.e. 90-day supply?) to what Customs will allow you to bring in. They will want original containers and proper labels, of course.
This is important. A bunch of pills in a Ziploc bag can easily result in issues. All meds, even over the counter stuff should be in original containers. You can get away with the weekly pill containers but it helps to be able to make the link between the pills in the weekly thingy and the original container.
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Old 03-08-2014, 13:27   #8
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Re: Prescription Meds in the US

A thousand thanks guys. I was very concerned about how we would manage but you have reassured me. Plan A is definitely to get a years supply from the UK and bring it with us, failing that PLAN B when we run out to get a supply via a local pharmacy such as Walgreen etc. Plan C would be to get them collected by my son from the UK and sent to an address in the US. Tricky as we are cruising and never know where the wind will take us..

Once again many thanks to you all.

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Old 03-08-2014, 14:32   #9
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Re: Prescription Meds in the US

Costco is a great place to get scrip's filled for cash buyers. They mark-up only 10% period.

The trend here lately seems to be raising the price of generics to cheaper than name-brand, but the pharmacy margin on many generics is now ridiculous.

Btw, you can make purchases from the Costco pharmacy w/o being a member. Just state at the door your intent and they'll let you right on in. You will not be able to make other purchases other than medications on the way out though.
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Old 03-08-2014, 14:35   #10
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Re: Prescription Meds in the US

Dawn-
While PlanC, posting them over from home, would in theory be simplest & cheapest, you'd probably need to look into the details. The two primary package services in the US are Fedex and UPS. (DHL has just returned to the market as a new player.) Parcels sent by the post offices as mail tend to be exempt from brokerage fees, but parcels sent by any other courier service can have brokerage fees imposed, surprise.

Our post office (USPS) will hold mail "care of general delivery" which is our version of "poste restante" but only at a primary post office, not at branch stations. So if you have anything sent that way, you need to confirm exactly which post "office" they are going to. That's free, and I think held at least 30 days. They also rent post boxes, and anything that doesn't fit is simply held for will-call at the counter. They won't rent them unless you first come in with government ID, so a post box is out if you haven't already been there. But general delivery is available without advance arrangements.

FedEx and UPS both have franchised retail store locations, and a "UPS Store" usually rents boxes (not mail boxes, only the USPS can call them mail boxes) and has extra services with them, like notifying you by email when something has arrived. I have no idea if you could rent a box in advance of your arrival someplace, you'd have to contact them to find out. But that's another option for having a delivery address with a physical pickup location.
American Express at least used to offer parcel holding for cardmembers traveling abroad, I have no idea if you could use a service like that, much less how scarce their offices in the US might be. Between our eternal war on drugs and our post-9/11 hysteria, sending drugs and having someone hold them may be a bit problematic outside of the commercial options, unless someone has a good personal friend.
Some of the airlines used to have parcel services for unattended parcels. Before there was a FedEx, you could literally send a parcel on a particular flight. Perhaps BOAC or someone has something similar, where your parcel could be held at a US airport for pickup?
In any case, good luck.
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