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Taking prescription medication to Middle East

Taking prescription medication to Middle East

Old Feb 11, 12, 1:48 am
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Question Taking prescription medication to Middle East

I wonder if anyone knows the answer to the following question?

I am flying to BAH on a business trip next weekend. I am on several prescription medications, one of which is co-codamol which contains codeine.

I understand this is illegal in the ME. I have a letter from my doctor listing the medications I am on and the tablets are in a clearly marked box with my and the pharmaicsts details on. Will I be permitted to take these into BAH?
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Old Feb 11, 12, 2:19 am
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Originally Posted by StevieJ View Post
I wonder if anyone knows the answer to the following question?

I am flying to BAH on a business trip next weekend. I am on several prescription medications, one of which is co-codamol which contains codeine.

I understand this is illegal in the ME. I have a letter from my doctor listing the medications I am on and the tablets are in a clearly marked box with my and the pharmaicsts details on. Will I be permitted to take these into BAH?
I don't know country by country in the ME, but Codeine based drugs are illegal in Dubai for sure. There was a high-profile case a few years ago of a British woman being sentenced for quite a few months in jail - I think she served about a month of it before release.

Co-codamol is available over the counter in the UK as opposed to prescription only so not sure if this would make a difference. Therefore the amount of Codeine must be of lower proportion.
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Old Feb 11, 12, 2:25 am
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I was on prescription co-codamol when I went to Dubai, but after doing some research I didn't take them and just took codeine free meds.

Probably best to contact the Embassy and ask to be sure.
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Old Feb 11, 12, 2:44 am
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Definitely contact the Embassy to be sure.

I can only speak for Abu Dhabi, which may be different- I was told for Abu Dhabi I needed to keep meds in original packaging, carry a letter on letterheaded paper from my doctor itemising each medicine. I also got this letter, along with a photocopy of the prescription, notarised. It's very cheap to do that in germany. When I got to Abu Dhabi, I told the customs guy who'se response was 'that's fine sir' and I was on my way.

So do check with Bahrain embassy, but the moral of the story is to be prepared. Ultimately, if they don't want it in the country, there's nothing you can do.

Last edited by IAMORGAN; Feb 11, 12 at 2:49 am
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Old Feb 11, 12, 3:41 pm
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Thanks everyone.I think I'll err on the side of caution and not take them with me.
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Old Feb 11, 12, 3:53 pm
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This is such a FAQ on tripadvisor (not unreasonably) that there's a sticky on the Dubai forum. Take a look, but the advice broadly matches IAMORGAN's above.

Can't help with BAH, but the UK embassy is pretty active and responsive on FB and there are a number of ex-pat forums worth mining.

hth
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Old Feb 11, 12, 5:38 pm
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Originally Posted by StevieJ View Post
Thanks everyone.I think I'll err on the side of caution and not take them with me.
Good idea It's just not worth the hassle.
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Old Feb 11, 12, 9:25 pm
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Unless you are carrying a suitcase of drugs, the chances of you being stopped are extremely low. Do not declare anything, carry a letter from your doctor, and if you are stopped, be extremely courteous.
If it's just one box, put it in your pocket, and not in your suitcase
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Old Feb 12, 12, 2:02 am
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Originally Posted by BOH View Post
Co-codamol is available over the counter in the UK as opposed to prescription only so not sure if this would make a difference. Therefore the amount of Codeine must be of lower proportion.
This is not correct. Codeine is present in Co-codamol and since the UAE has a zero tolerance of the drug it does not matter how low the percentage; just the word on the packet is enough to start alarm bells ringing. I lived in the ME for 12 years and would not risk taking it there or anywhere else with similar views.

Oh and I do take the stuff and am not so sure that it is available over the counter in the UK.

Edit: you are correct that there are some low level versions of Co-codamol that are available without prescription, but I still wouldn't take them into the UAE; even Paracetamol Plus, which I believe used to contain a low level of codeine, was illegal in the UAE when I lived there

Last edited by SteveF; Feb 12, 12 at 2:18 am
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Old Feb 12, 12, 3:13 am
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Originally Posted by SteveF View Post
This is not correct. Codeine is present in Co-codamol and since the UAE has a zero tolerance of the drug it does not matter how low the percentage; just the word on the packet is enough to start alarm bells ringing. I lived in the ME for 12 years and would not risk taking it there or anywhere else with similar views.
Yes but I wasn't making a statement that it was OK, simply posing a question given Co-codamol is available over the counter in the UK

Originally Posted by SteveF View Post
Oh and I do take the stuff and am not so sure that it is available over the counter in the UK.

Edit: you are correct that there are some low level versions of Co-codamol that are available without prescription, but I still wouldn't take them into the UAE; even Paracetamol Plus, which I believe used to contain a low level of codeine, was illegal in the UAE when I lived there
It certainly is available over the counter in the UK as have personally bought it. The pharmacist did ask me lots of questions though before she sold it.
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Old Feb 12, 12, 3:35 am
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Originally Posted by StevieJ View Post
Thanks everyone.I think I'll err on the side of caution and not take them with me.
I think you made the right decision.

rb211.
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Old Feb 12, 12, 3:39 am
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It may be down to stupidity but I have traveled to the UAE with Ritalin many, many times. Never a problem. Once they checked my bags, I showed them my 'medication passport' and that was it. I never even contemplated this problem....
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Old Feb 12, 12, 4:26 am
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Originally Posted by BOH View Post
It certainly is available over the counter in the UK as have personally bought it. The pharmacist did ask me lots of questions though before she sold it.
Yes, the 8, 10 and 12.8mg versions are, but the 15 and 30mg versions, which I assume are what the OP is taking, are prescription only in the UK.
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Old Feb 12, 12, 4:36 am
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Originally Posted by henkybaby View Post
It may be down to stupidity but I have traveled to the UAE with Ritalin many, many times. Never a problem. Once they checked my bags, I showed them my 'medication passport' and that was it. I never even contemplated this problem....
I'm sure that most people don't and if I hadn't lived in the region neither would I have.

The craziest case I know of was a colleague (a UK citizen of Indian descent) who was posted to the UAE by his (US) company and had his entire house contents shipped. When the container was opened for inspection, customs found a jar marked "poppy seeds" in his kitchen stuff. The customs officer decided that poppy seeds = poppies = heroin and, despite his insistence that they were used in bread making he was chucked in jail. He was eventually released after about 2 weeks, but only after very high level intervention. The joke was that our local baker in Muscat, which has similar laws to the UAE, sold bread with a label stating "poppy seed bread".
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Old Feb 12, 12, 6:28 am
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I have never been stopped even in the most stringent of ME and gulf countries..but if you are that worried, how about having your prescription filled over there, they must have the equivalent. You can take the empty box to any pharmacy and they'll fill it no problem....
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