What To Do: Your Prescription Runs Out

What to do when your prescription runs out when traveling

Has this ever happened to you? You arrive at your vacation spot and everything is idyllic until you realize you forgot your prescription medication you know you can’t live without?


You are in a foreign city in the middle of your journey filled with adventure and exploration when you use the last pill in your prescription bottle.

Each of these situations is equally frustrating, so here is what you do if you need a prescription filled and…

You are in the United States:

Some pharmacists recommend that you call your doctor or pharmacist and ask them to contact a local pharmacy to provide you a new prescription.

This won’t work for every prescription however.

“For controlled substances, those medications which have an addictive quality to them, the situation is more complex,” said Dr. West Conner, pharmacist in Nashville, Tenn. “The rules change depending on the individual state, medication, and comfort level of the pharmacist. Some states do not allow controlled substances to be transferred in from another state. If the pharmacist cannot transfer your prescription for any reason, you will have to visit a local clinic or see a local doctor to get your medication.”

You are in a foreign country:

When traveling internationally, you will need to visit a local doctor and explain the situation. Once you’ve seen the doctor, he or she will be able to prescribe the medication, or at least something similar.

If you need a doctor and do not have travel protection from Travelex Insurance Services, visit travel.state.gov to find the phone number for the local U.S. embassy or consulate. They can furnish you with a list of local doctors.

No matter where you are, it is important to inform the physician what medications you are taking, the dosage, and why you are taking them. Most physicians will not have quick access to your medical records back home so any information will help them help you.

Consider compiling all your health information ahead of time:

If you are particularly fastidious, check out these instructions for creating a medical portfolio. This will make sure you are ready for anything a doctor or pharmacist might ask.

If you purchase travel protection from Travelex Insurance Services, our travel assistance and concierge services provided by On Call International will assist you with replacing medications that are lost, stolen or spoiled during your covered trip. This includes getting them from a local pharmacy, or if necessary, sending them to you via courier. If you run out however, this is not something TIS policies would cover.

Travelex Insurance Services plans are underwritten by Transamerica Casualty Insurance Company, Columbus, Ohio; NAIC #10952. Travel Assistance & Concierge Services are provided by the designated provider as listed in the Description of Coverage. For a summary of the plan details on coverages, benefits, limitations and exclusions of the insurance plan, please refer to the applicable Description of Coverage and/or Group Certificate/Individual Policy.