Crossing borders


One stakeholder has issued a warning to Australians after a man was arrested for bringing his medication into Bali

Seven News reports that Michael William Petersen, a former Australian Air Force technician, was arrested on Saturday after he arrived in Bali with a bottle containing dexamfetamine sulfate 5mg, which he has been prescribed for major fatigue.

Mr Peterson, who suffers from myasthenia gravis, went to the holiday destination with his wife, Linda, to celebrate her birthday on Monday, November 25. He brought a bottle containing 87 of the pills, for a four-day stay. According to Seven, he takes four pills a day.

However, he did not bring his prescription or any documentation from his doctor, though he declared the medication at Customs.

“As far as I was concerned I didn’t realise that I had done anything wrong and I put my hand up and did the right thing and I would hope that that plays a big strong part in my case as well,” Mr Petersen told Seven.

“I have now got all the information needed so I am hoping to have a good outcome and be home soon, back to Australia.”

Indonesian police were concerned that a bottle of 87 tablets would be more than Mr Peterson needed for such a short trip.

Indonesia considers dexamfetamine as a type one narcotic and requires documentation if it is brought into the country.

Following the incident, NPS MedicineWise has reminded Australians that they need to plan ahead when it comes to travelling with their medicines.

As well as the legalities involved, “Taking your medicine documentation when travelling overseas is also important for other reasons,” said pharmacist and Medicines Line Team Lead at NPS MedicineWise Nerida Packham.

“Carrying a copy of your prescriptions and a letter from your doctor explaining what the medicines are for can help if you go to a doctor or pharmacist while overseas.

“They may not be familiar with your medicines, and different pharmacies may not carry your regular brand of medicine,” she said.

She also urged Australians to become familiar with the active ingredients in their usual medicines, in order to ensure they can access the right medicine as well as avoiding doubling up.

Associate Professor Ian Heslop, of the James Cook University College of Medicine and Dentistry, who teaches the undergraduate Pharmacy program there, recently told the AJP (see December 2019 edition, Travel Health feature) that pharmacists have a key role in talking to people about international restrictions on medicines.

“The International Society of Travel Medicine actually has a Pharmacist Professional Group which has done some work on this, and looked at what sort of medicines are acceptable for travellers to take across borders – some countries aren’t keen on travellers going into that country with that particular type of medicine,” A/Prof Heslop said.

“So the PPG has been working on a project for pharmacists, who are often faced with these questions.

“If anything, this is one area that pharmacists are very good at, in terms of advising on travel health.”

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1 Comment

  1. Karalyn Huxhagen

    Travel consults is an area of practice that pharmacists can and should specialise in. In previous employment I conducted travel consults where I discussed the parameters snd legalities of travelling with medicine. I also explained risk e.g. cardiovascular risk on long haul flights.

    There is a dirth of support we can offer esp if a patient has a chronic disease.

    Countries are changing their regulations in recent yrs. A comprehensive assessment can be a Medscheck plus a fee for a longer consult.

    I provide a summary of what needs to be discussed with their GP plus a time frame for immunisations

    This is an area that we can support both patient and GP

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