Sunday, March 6, 2011

Over the Counter Drugs: Pack’em if You’ve Got’em

You might assume that Italy and France; first world nations with all the comforts of the good old U. S. of A, would have all the consumer goods we might want on our trip? Yes and no. In almost every instance, you can find what you are looking for or a reasonable substitute in a local market. But with over the counter drugs, maybe not. 

On early SM Euro trips it wasn’t a big issue. Ron Lyle, a professional pharmacist, seemed to have pills for every malady tucked in his luggage. I’m not sure how he did it and never asked questions. But he could treat and cure most conditions from the depths of his boot bag.

Last trip to Switzerland I was shopping for basic cold medications and came up empty. The ladies in the white uniforms at the local pharmacy couldn’t come up with NyQuil, my favorite nighttime cold medication, or anything else that was familiar. Perhaps they don’t allow the sale of cold remedies that we take for granted. I don’t know. Now, they didn’t leave me without treatment. I explained my condition, in my best fractured French or German, after which she went behind the counter and came back with some small white pills that were supposed to do the job. They didn’t and, since I couldn’t read a word on the box, I wasn’t sure what they were intended for so tossed them when I returned home.

I don’t recall what is on the pharmacy shelves in Italy and France. It’s just that they might not have the ones you are comfortable with and you can’t read the box to make a reasoned selection. They may have meds for any condition you might have. But if you have a favorite, that you are comfortable with, why not take along a few pills from home to avoid the confusion and increase your peace of mind.

As an aside, some experts suggest you keep pills in the original packaging so there is no confusion at customs as to what the pills are for. We don’t want anyone busted on drug charges.
Read more on the topic at Martha’s Travel Blog

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