Pill containers (Ep 536)

David and Stephen mentioned keeping a few days’ supply of medications in their carry-on bags when traveling. But note that some states have laws requiring medications to be carried in containers that identify pills with the pharmacy’s printed prescription information.

Not quite accurate. States may require controlled substances to be kept in the containers in which they were dispensed, not all prescription medications.

For example, here is Washington state’s code on the subject.

Pill containers that store a weeks worth of meds, sorted by day, and time of day are valuable and useful, no matter your age. I made fun of them forever - saying they were for “old people”. Well, once I got over it, and just put my pills in one I’m never going back. It automatically tells me if I skipped a dose, and makes finding things super easy. I put my real pill bottles in the same shaving kit where the pill sorter goes. Worst case scenario some jerk makes me dump a weeks worth of pills. Probably the only time anybody might look at your pills is at an airport anyway.

This was me until a couple years ago, I can understand your motivation. After getting on the GTD path and pre-planning became a way of life, anything (including sorting pills) became a friction point that had to be handled. A weekly pill container is a must, and I use Due app To remind me to take things when I need to.

True, unless you are traveling internationally and have no way to get refills. I use pill contains too, but I also carry a duplicate supply of meds (in the original containers) in my checked luggage when out of the country.

If I’m checked everything in my backpack is in clear bags for that “I have nothing to hide” look.

International travel is a different issue entirely, but again there are no country rules I know of requiring keeping pills in the dispensing containers - it’s not as if someone couldn’t put one pill in a different container, after all. I don’t know of anyone in decades who had someone dump pills, certainly not anyone who brought copies of their prescriptions with them. The main restriction I know of is many countries limit travelers to 30 days’ worth of prescribed drugs. In some countries, like Thailand, a permit must be acquired prior to travel as an attachment to the travel visa form. But again, no law about traveling with medicine in their original containers.

The NYTimes has a good general article on this here.

I’ve occasionally traveled to locations where inspections don’t necessarily stop when you leave the airport. I try to be as prepared as possible.

Anyone can exceed their authority at any time, for any reason. But again, I haven’t heard of any travelers I know, or from any travelers I know, having trouble with pills in travel containers as long as they followed actual rules, and had copies of prescriptions with them.

I’ve never done this but I will next time. If there ever is a next time.

FYI in this post-paper-prescription world I have my doctor’s office send me a dispensing summary on letterhead (which I also scan and put into a locked file [1Password or Notes]).

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I’ve seen the potential problems discussed on the websites of several law firms, as well as this forum:

Depending on advice from people who claim to be cops on the internet, giving sketchy advice (“my suggestion to you would be to carry the few pills you need in the actual bottle itself” - as if that proves the pills are what the label indicates) is a recipe for disaster or hilarity, along the lines of https://www.reddit.com/r/badlegaladvice/

If someone can point to a law or regulation stating that anything other than a controlled substance must reside in the dispensing container I’d be happy to learn about it.