My wife takes a prescription medication that cannot be stopped. Her supply is running out while in the US and we've tried faxing her foreign doctor's prescription to Walmart but they wouldn't accept it. What options do we have for getting a prescription quickly? We've thought of going to a walk-in clinic or urgent care but fear a lengthy diagnosis with costly lab tests.
First, it is unlikely that you will find any US pharmacy that is willing fill a foreign prescription. I would not count on it. (Apparently this depends on state rules, so you might want to google "[state] pharmacy fill foreign prescription" or try asking your nearest consulate if they know any.)
From the US Food and Drug Acency (FDA)
Q: Can a foreign traveler get a prescription filled when visiting the U.S.?
A: If you’re traveling to the United States from another country and need a prescription filled, you should visit a health care provider. Very few pharmacies can fill a foreign prescription, and this is determined on a state-by-state basis.
Further unofficial sources that match with your experiences:
- Source 1: Immihelp
Source 2: Forum Post:
I'm a pharmacist. I can tell you that no pharmacy will fill a foreign prescription in the US, controlled substance or not. It's a legal issue, foreign prescriptions are not recognized in the US. All prescriptions has to be on official prescription forms now with sequence number.
Second, you could consider have someone at home ship your medication to you in the US, accompanied by a letter from your doctor. From the CBP website (links removed by me):
I am traveling or living temporarily in the U.S. and I need to have my prescription medicine sent to me. What should I do?
As a general rule, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not allow prescription medications to be mailed to the U.S. However, if you are here temporarily and need to be sent your prescription medication, there are a couple of things you should do. Ask your physician to write a letter explaining that you are under their care, and that they have prescribed the drugs for your use. The letter should also explain the circumstances for sending the drugs to you, including that you are a citizen of (whatever) country, that you are temporarily in the U.S. (for travel, study, etc.) and have either run out of your medications, lost them, etc. The letter should accompany the package and be addressed to a CBP Officer or broker.
We strongly recommend that it be in English. If the medicine is sent through the mail, it could be informally detained by CBP until an FDA Inspector is available to examine it. This can take as long as a month. It is very important that the outside package be marked with a statement that the package contains a physician's letter so that the CBP Officer will be more proactive in bringing it to the FDA's attention. A better option is to send the package by a courier service. Ask the courier service how best to flag the package so that their U.S. Customs broker will be able to tell the FDA about the special circumstances for sending the package. For more information please email the FDA Import/Export Team at firstname.lastname@example.org. See the FDA Regulatory Procedures Manual for Importations for more information.
Finally if none of that works, get a prescription in the US. Contact your travel health insurance provider (and maybe also your health insurance provider at home) for where to go. I imagine that bringing results from tests done at home, diagnosis and other relevant documents might greatly facilitate the process and save you from added costs. The American health system is infamously expensive and I would go as far as getting an estimate for this last step and compare it to the price of airfare to your home country to stock up on the medication there and bringing it personally to the US.