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We're travelling for 7 months (from the UK) to Australia, New Zealand, and back via Australia again (with less than 3 months in each country).

My wife has obtained a 7 month supply of her prescription medicine for the trip; just some blood pressure pills and a mild antidepressant; nothing controversial. (It's probably worth mentioning that both medicines seem to be readily available from online pharmacies in Oz and NZ, but only with a prescription from an doctor in those countries).

However, we've discovered Australia apparently has very strict rules not allowing import of more than 3 months personal supply of prescription drugs. Apparently any excess would be seized and destroyed at customs!

I can't believe we're the first people to be in this situation, so I'm curious how other folks have dealt with it?

Options which occur to me:

  • Find a doctor in our two entry points to Australia (Sydney and Perth) who can prescribe a few months supply of the needed drug to top up the 3 months supply we could take initially. (Any recommendations for specific services we could contact in advance and line things up with would be welcome).
  • Ship 4 months supply of medicine from the UK directly to our friends in NZ (probably in 2 separate less-than-3-months-each batches). However the NZ rules on "reasonable excuse" for importing medicines still seem to need a letter from an NZ doctor, so I'm pretty dubious about this one.

but maybe there are other possibilities we haven't thought of or discovered.

Outcome: I've added a comment on Mark's answer below on how this turned out in the end. We've heard from another doctor at the same practice that my wife shouldn't actually have been prescribed more than 3 months medication in the first place, and of course that would have forced us down Mark's suggested route of resupplying a couple of times along the way. However, after talking to someone very helpful at NZ's "medsafe" it does turn out to be possible to ship the excess supply she has got hold of to NZ to await our arrival (subject to complying with various things about documentation and shipping).

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    Have you looked into getting the prescription in your home country (UK) and the actual medication where you are (New Zealand)? – Willeke Sep 22 '16 at 10:54
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    Lying to customs people is about as bad as lying to immigration officers. – Willeke Sep 22 '16 at 11:39
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    Alright if you have medication with a sliding scale of use. I always bring a few extra of the medication but with 'x per day max' medication it is not going to work to bring 200% over prescription. – Willeke Sep 22 '16 at 11:44
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    I'm not sure I'd consider any mind-altering substances as "nothing controversial". Mental health drugs are very much the kind of thing that people do get in to trouble for, even "mild" ones. I'd check that the specific drugs are permitted if at all possible (I'd imagine that Oz/NZ/UK rules on SSRIs etc are similar, but still...) – CMaster Sep 22 '16 at 12:01
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    @Traubenfuchs no reasonable doctor in the UK would do such a thing as it opens them up massively to liability issues, as a prescription is a legal document. Source - the doctor I'm married to. – Moo Sep 22 '16 at 13:59
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So I've sort of been in your situation. I've needed more than 3 months supply of medication (heart/blood pressure and more) as a New Zealand citizen living in the UK (before a trip to South America and before a trip overland Asia). I've also needed several months supply as a NZ citizen living in Australia for a trip.

There's two sides to the problem, as you've identified. From what I recall, NHS would only let me have 3 months at a time max, but maybe that's drug specific as you seem to have managed to get more. That's great.

I got 3 months, and then when I needed more, I simply went to the town's hospital with my original prescription and a letter from my doctor. I did this for blood tests as well - would just wander into the hospital and ask - and someone would always help.

I've done this and re-filled my supply in countries like Ecuador (no prescription needed), Estonia, Canada and the US. If you see a doctor and explain what it's for, and have a letter to back you up, there's no reason they'd be likely to not give it to you.

I also looked into shipping drugs ahead (amusingly my plan at one point was to ship drugs into Colombia), but it got too complicated as I wasn't sure where I'd be.

If you're entering Australia, note that under the reciprocal agreements they have with the UK you might even get discounts on certain meds, and have access to healthcare services.

The same applies in New Zealand, unless things have changed since I was last there.

I can recommend Broadway Medical center in Sydney - my local doctor who has a pharmacy and blood test lab all together about 10 minutes walk from Central Station, so you could do a 'one stop shop'. In Christchurch, I can recommend Ilam Medical Center and Ilam Pharmacy, both know me by name, and it's a 5 minute drive from the airport, or about 15 min from the city center.

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    @Lilienthal they're specifically talking about NZ and Australia, and they've mentioned the drugs (anti depressants and blood pressure). I've taken/am on the same type of drugs, and have direct knowledge of the doctors both here and in New Zealand. – Mark Mayo Supports Monica Sep 22 '16 at 13:20
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    So far as this specific question is concerned, the medicines we're after are certainly available from online pharmacies in Oz and Nz... with a prescription from a doctor in those countries. In fact I'll clarify that in the question... – timday Sep 22 '16 at 13:37
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    Blood pressure and anti-depressants - extremely common, very interchangeable (as in there are alternatives if say, quinapril 5mg is not available like at times in Australia) - I could literally quote several brands and the rough prices in both Aus and NZ (incidentally - far cheaper in NZ!). Supply won't be a problem. – Mark Mayo Supports Monica Sep 22 '16 at 13:56
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    sounds great, and hopefully that will help some people. in any event, this QA ia about Aus/NZ, I guess. Cheers! – Fattie Sep 22 '16 at 22:04
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    OK, an outcome: It turns out that NHS policy is not to prescribe more than 3 months supply of medication at once, and my wife should never have been given 7. (Agrees with Mark's answer above.) Now our schedule (more by accident than design) would actually work quite well with hitting major cities at good times for picking up a 3 months resupply from local doctors, but since shipping the extra stuff she now has to NZ avoids that, we decided to look into that some more. Turns out to be quite possible for NZ if you talk to "medsafe" at the Ministry of Health and follow their instructions. – timday Sep 28 '16 at 21:16

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