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Small pseudo-ephedrine drama.

South Coast NSW
Level Contributor
3,114 posts
93 reviews
50 helpful votes
Small pseudo-ephedrine drama.

It was very stupid of me not to think ahead and take any pseudo-ephedrine with me considering that is the only thing that works for clearing my sinuses when I have a cold.

Of course I ended up getting a sore throat on day 3, and the beginnings of a cold on day 4 of our trip and by lunchtime on day 5 I was feeling pretty miserable. So we were at Ala Moana and went into Longs Drugs where I asked for some pseudo-ephedrine.

Now I am not a complete idiot, I know this drug is involved in making illegal drugs and is difficult to get in Australia - we have to show our drivers licence and they take our info and enter it into the computer for future reference and even then we can only get 3 days worth of tablets at a time. I figured it would be a similar deal in the US.

Imagine my surprise when the pharmacy girl told me I needed to have a US passport or drivers licence in order to get this drug. When I told her I had both my Australian passport and drivers licence, she told me neither of those were acceptable and to go outside and ask people going past to find a US person with their licence or passport who would be willing to buy this drug for me. Alternatively to go and see a doctor and get a script.

I wasn't going to do the former, so I bought a different option (the one with phenylwhatever they call it, that has never worked for me anytime I have tried it, but I hoped it might this time) and some throat lozenges, and went back to the hotel.

I cannot tell you how frustrating it was that the drugs were right there, and I had bunches of ID on me, and they would not accept them. Grrr!

A couple of hours later, with my sinus completely and totally blocked, I gave in and called the doctor clinic - it would have cost me $130 to see the doctor - possibly more. They told me to try calling Walgreens and see if they might help me. So I did, and they told me my Aussie passport would be just fine with them.

We caught the bus there, with me fearing the whole way that I would get there and suddenly my passport would not be ok, but they were as good as their word on the phone, and I left with the tablets I needed.

While I was there I discovered pretty much all the make up I had wanted to buy in Longs was cheaper at Walmart/Walgreens anyway, in some cases considerably cheaper, so I spent my money there instead.

I am posting this for two reasons - as a cautionary tale to make sure you take every possible drug you think you might need with you just in case - and to let people know that Walgreens accept id other than US id for those drugs, in case you run out or forget to take them.

Elk Rapids, Michigan
Destination Expert
for Lanai
Level Contributor
10,170 posts
55 reviews
141 helpful votes
1. Re: Small pseudo-ephedrine drama.

I sympathize with you. The only thing that works for me is Advil cold and sinus with pseudo-ephedrine.

Longs was wrong, all you need is valid ID to get you limited supply, thier loss Walgreens gain.

If anyone does bring their own don't carry more than 9 grams (about 3 packages) as that would violate Hawaii law.

Ice is a huge problem in Hawaii so I do not blame them for limiting this drug.

Level Contributor
24,291 posts
2. Re: Small pseudo-ephedrine drama.

I'll use this thread to add the following:

If you take any drug that is a 'controlled substance' (usually means it contains an opiate), bring plenty with you. Best to bring it IN the prescription bottle with your name on it. By law, no pharmacy in Hawaii can fill or refill a prescription for these drugs that is not written by a Hawaii-licensed MD.

This law was enacted to curb illegal drug sales in Hawaii. I don't know if it's had the intended effect, but it's surely increased patient load for Hawaiian MD's.

Buffalo, New York
Level Contributor
1,076 posts
20 reviews
54 helpful votes
3. Re: Small pseudo-ephedrine drama.

I feel your pain. I don't know whether it is the stress or being in a crowded plane but every time I travel I come down with a cold and sore throat. So I travel with cold meds but I learned another hard lesson on a recent trip to London. While there I came down with a urinary tract infection which I only get maybe once a year. A trip to a wonderful UK emergency room fixed me up but the episode was nerve wracking. I made a list of illnesses that I get maybe once or twice a year and will the necessary meds with me.

I'm so glad your situation resolved itself and hope you enjoyed Hawaii.

Level Contributor
51,819 posts
19 reviews
29 helpful votes
4. Re: Small pseudo-ephedrine drama.

Nothing like a long flight to mess up your sinuses. I'm glad that your story had a happy ending.

But, please don't write off the staff at Longs -- or avoid Long's. I have had some amazing service from the Long's at Ala Moana and the one in the Cannery in Lahaina. I remember once waiting for a prescription in the Long's pharmacy in Lahaina, and listening to the staff field questions and offer advice about drugs, herbs and remedies from around the world. A wonderful service for international travelers. I was terribly impressed.

Sorry you got the "bad apple" as we would say ...

Edina, Minnesota
Destination Expert
for Lanai
Level Contributor
4,155 posts
33 reviews
69 helpful votes
5. Re: Small pseudo-ephedrine drama.

Wow, what a terrible experience. I am not aware of anything in the law that says you have to be a US citizen to get sudafed. And I think the law allows at least 10 - 14 days worth of pills. I don't know what else you could have done, except to have spoken to the phamacist. I am glad Walgreens was able to help you. And you are right phenylephrine is useless. It was not even sold for several years because it is so ineffective. It only ended up back on the shelves when sudafed when behind the counter.


6. Re: Small pseudo-ephedrine drama.

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