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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Bad Medicine - How Cold and Flu Pills can Spoil a Holiday



Many travellers are unaware that bringing simple, everyday medicines from Australia into certain countries can result in hefty fines or even a jail sentence. SureSave, a leading travel insurance provider for travel agents, has provided Aussie travel agents with a range of tips to provide to holidaymakers to prevent their next case of the sniffles from turning into a stint in a lockup.

Executive Director at SureSave, Michael McAuliffe, says it's important for travellers to carefully consider which medicines to pack and which to avoid.

"Over the last decade or so, countries around the world have been cracking down on pseudoephedrine-based medications to stem the manufacture of illicit substances, such as methamphetamine," says McAuliffe.

"Japan is a prime example of a country that's very tough on cough and cold remedies containing high concentrations of pseudoephedrine and codeine. While these are commonplace in Australia, anyone found bringing sizable amounts of these types of remedies into Japan will immediately be treated as a drug dealer."

Even more stringent laws are in place in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). A wide range of common medicines, including codeine-based painkillers, valium and ritalin, are illegal in the UAE.

"Should they be found on a traveller, there can be serious consequences. Even the most miniscule traces of any controlled substance on an individual's person, or in some cases, in their bloodstream, can potentially land them in prison. In one high profile case, a British woman was found to have codeine in her body and was held in a Dubai jail for eight weeks before being sent home. Travellers need to be aware," says McAuliffe.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) advises that any traveller requiring medications check with the appropriate consulate or embassy regarding what is allowable and what extra information may also need to be supplied. It may be necessary to obtain a customs clearance or import permit, even for a medication which has been subscribed to them.

"A good rule of thumb is not to bring any medicines into a foreign country, unless absolutely necessary. If you're suffering from a cold, feeling under the weather is a small price to pay compared to potentially spending a few weeks in a foreign lockup," says McAuliffe.

Agents can read more about how to protect themselves from being treated like a drug dealer in Japan on the SureSave website, or download a PDF for their customers.

For more information, visit suresave.net.au or call 1300 787 376.


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