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Getting supplies of your epilepsy medicine outside the UK

This information is relevant to people who live in the UK.

If you’re going to be spending some time abroad, there may be times when you need to get extra supplies of your epilepsy medicine. For example if:

  • Your medicine is lost or stolen
  • You are delayed getting home
  • Your doctor can’t prescribe enough medicine to cover your whole trip

Brexit: deal or no deal

If we have a deal, many of the current reciprocal arrangements will stay in place, at least until the end of the transition period, sometime in 2020.

The EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) may or may not be valid.

In the event of a no deal the EHIC will not be valid. The government is working hard to build up new reciprocal arrangements.

What should I do?

Always get travel insurance. Be sure it covers pre-existing health conditions.

Check for country specific information on the government or NHS website.

Will my medicine be available in the country I’m visiting?

It’s possible your epilepsy medicine might not be available in the country or countries you’re visiting, or it might be called something else. So before you travel, it’s a good idea to check:

  • Is your epilepsy medicine available in each country you will be visiting?
  • If it is, what is it called?

You can find out this information by phoning the drug companies that make your epilepsy medicine. Their details should be printed on the box or on the patient information leaflet.

My medicine is available in the country I’m visiting. How can I get supplies of it?

If your medicine is available in the country you are visiting, you can get a prescription from a doctor there. You will usually need to show the doctor a copy of your prescription or a letter from your family doctor in the UK. You may need to get this information translated into the language of the country you’re visiting.

Depending on which country you’re in, you may need to pay the doctor to write the prescription, and also pay for the medicine when you collect it from a pharmacy. If you’re in a country where the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is accepted you may be able to use your EHIC to get these services for free or at a reduced price. The NHS website has country-by-country guides to using your EHIC to access healthcare.

See also the information in the Brexit box.

My medicine isn’t available in the country I’m visiting. How can I get supplies of it?

If your epilepsy medicine isn’t available in the country you’re visiting, it may be possible to have your medicine sent to you there. For this to happen, the country has to have a licence or special authorisation for medicines to be brought in from abroad. You can find this information from the country’s embassy. The UK government website has a list of foreign embassies in the UK.

If your epilepsy medicine can be sent to you, you can pay a doctor in the UK to write you a prescription. They can send the prescription to a company that can export medicines to individuals, such as John Bell & Croyden (details at the end). John Bell & Croyden will send your epilepsy medicine to you. You will have to pay for this service.

Alternatively, if you’re in the European Economic Area or Switzerland you can pay a doctor there to write a prescription for you (it must be written in English). The doctor can arrange for John Bell & Croyden to send the medicine to them. You then collect the medicine from the doctor. You will have to pay for this service.

Useful contacts

John Bell & Croyden
Tel: 020 7935 5555
Website: johnbellcroyden.co.uk

If you would like to see this information with references, visit the Advice and Information references section of our website. If you are unable to access the internet, please contact our Epilepsy Action Helpline freephone on 0808 800 5050.

Code: 
F022A.04

This information has been produced under the terms of Epilepsy Action's information quality standards.

  • Updated June 2019
    To be reviewed June 2022

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