Is it Illegal To Carry Prescriptions in a Pill Box?

Latest post Thu, Apr 10 2014 3:18 AM by DavieG1018. 26 replies.
  • Wed, Aug 18 2010 1:47 PM

    • Stentorian
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    Is it Illegal To Carry Prescriptions in a Pill Box?

    Prescriptions. Some people take dozens a day and organize them in a daily/weekly/monthly pill container.

    Questions needing to be answered:

    ·     Is it illegal to carry pills out of their original containers

    ·     is it illegal to leave your home with pill boxes or other containers and not have the script

    ·     Is there any way it is legal

    ·     Can you fly, drive, etc. while in possession of an unmarked container

    I would appreciate actual citation or if you are a lawyer commenting even better. Random guesses and speculation, i.e. "well I assume if your prescribed" will not keep my grandma out of jail. Although many people will not give a ticket to an old lady with a bunch of pills I still need to know whether it is illegal or not and it can be done so it isn't illegal. Note: carrying the original container defeats the purpose of a compact pill carrier so don't say that, not an option. Thank you in advance to all legitimate replies.

     

  • Wed, Aug 18 2010 2:06 PM In reply to

    • LynnM
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    Re: Is it Illegal To Carry Prescriptions in a Pill Box?

    No, it is not illegal. Generally all that would be required to defeat the charge  would be to provide copies of the prescription for all pills in the pill box.

  • Wed, Aug 18 2010 2:11 PM In reply to

    • Stentorian
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    Re: Is it Illegal To Carry Prescriptions in a Pill Box?

    Why thank you LynnM. I guess thats why the pharmacist always gives you a copy of the script in the information packet.

  • Thu, Aug 19 2010 12:11 AM In reply to

    • Cica
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    Re: Is it Illegal To Carry Prescriptions in a Pill Box?

    If her travel is overseas, she might want to check the regs of that specific country. 

    Though TSA permitted me to cart kid's paper scissors just to cut yarn while I crocheted, I ALMOST didn't make it through Frankfurt or Prague.

    Country's differ on lots of things, so make sure to question everything.

     

     

  • Thu, Aug 19 2010 2:57 PM In reply to

    • moisunkind
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    Re: Is it Illegal To Carry Prescriptions in a Pill Box?

    Technically YES but it really only becomes case in point when it is a scheduled drug controlled by the DEA.  Narcotics, amphetamines, anxiolytics should never be seperated from the bottle that has your name on it, the reason is if you possess the drug and do not have a valid rx, you have broken the law.  I am a professional medical person..

  • Thu, Aug 19 2010 2:59 PM In reply to

    Re: Is it Illegal To Carry Prescriptions in a Pill Box?

    "I still need to know whether it is illegal or not and it can be done so it isn't illegal."

    Actually Lynn is partially correct. The law isn't interested in your water pill, asthma medication, or diabetes pill.  However is it illegal to carry Schedule II or I narcotics, sedatives, etc. in anything BUT the original dispensing container from the pharmacy. 

    You should be aware that people have been arrested and tried for picking up someone else's prescription in a legally dispensed container in the bag from the pharmacy and charged with possession and transportation of a controlled substance.  Be safe:  check with your dispensing pharmacist about which medications it is legal to carry in the pill dispenser and which need to stay in the dispensing container.

    "That's just my opinion, then again I might be wrong."  Dennis Miller

     

  • Thu, Aug 19 2010 3:07 PM In reply to

    Re: Is it Illegal To Carry Prescriptions in a Pill Box?

    My husband is in the same situation as your grandmother. He takes a lot of pills and organizes them into a daily carrier.

    The reason why the actual prescription bottle or actual prescription is necessary is so that if Grandma is stopped, the police can easily identify the pills. The police would start with the name of the prescription, from the bottle or the script, look it up and confirm that the pill matches the description in the PDR and that matches the bottle and the name on the bottle.

    If Grandma only has a pill container filled with little pink pills, how could it be proved that the little pink pills are truly her prescribed arthritis meds and not something illegal?

    Here is my suggestion.

    Get Grandma's written prescriptions, scan them and then print color copies. Get the color copies, trim appropriately to remove the white space, and then laminate them. Put them in some container that fits nicely in Grandma's purse.

    Then, if she is stopped, the officer can read the laminated copies of the prescription, see Grandma's name and the name of the pill, look that pill up in the PDR, see that it matches the stuff in her little portable container, and send her on her way. That would be a positive confirmation that the stuff is prescribed arthritis meds and not (shock horror) LSD or worse.

    I invite correction on this. We did just that with my husband's prescriptions. He carries the color copies in his wallet.

  • Thu, Aug 19 2010 4:22 PM In reply to

    • moisunkind
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    Re: Is it Illegal To Carry Prescriptions in a Pill Box?

    YES IT IS A VIOLTATION OF FEDERAL LAW.... It's the law: Keep those prescription medicines in their original containers by Heather L. FinleyThe Times-Georgian 08.24.08 - 12:00 am You might have broken the law without even knowing it.

    If you’ve ever removed prescription medication tablets from the original container and placed the pills in a plastic sandwich bag, a purse or in a container along with other medications, you were technically in violation of the law. Carrying or having any “controlled substance,” the law enforcement term for prescription medication, in a container other than the original distributed by the pharmacy is a misdemeanor crime punishable by up to one year in jail.

    “It can be in a Tylenol bottle, a Zip Lock baggie or the bottom of a ladies pocketbook,” said Chief Deputy Brad Robinson of the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office. “If it’s not in the original container, technically they’re in violation of that code section.”

    The law does not pertain to any over-the-counter medications, so keeping a bag of ibuprofen tablets in a desk drawer or throwing a few antacid tablets into a bottle of aspirin is not a crime.

    A wrong container violation seems like an easy mistake to make. However, Robinson said the law was created to punish those individuals who may be keeping prescription medications in the wrong containers for less-than-innocent reasons.
  • Thu, Aug 19 2010 4:29 PM In reply to

    • moisunkind
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    Re: Is it Illegal To Carry Prescriptions in a Pill Box?

    YES It IS ILLEGAL IF THE DRUG IS A rx....

    Even having the RX and having a bunch of pills mixed up is IN VIOLATION OF THE LAW

    YES, you can fly or drive with an unmarked container of NON prescription meds. 

    I am a medical professional, simply call your local walgreens and ask to either speak to a rph OR a PHARMD...

    By the way during my nasty divorce my soon to be ex was in the habit of transferring my kids meds in a sandwich bag, when he called the police to be present at our next transfer he got more then he bargained for in a possessions charge (my sons medication was/is an amphetamine).

    There really is no reason for  Grandma to even risk it.  If her bottles are large and she doesnt want to carry the entire amount there is an easy fix,  With every RX she gets filled ask the pharmacist to supply the smallest pill bottle possible properly labeled.  Easy solution.  If you still want further validation of your question contact the DEA.  The bigger issue as I mentioned comes with controlled substances, however the law applies to ALL RX meds.

  • Mon, Jun 25 2012 12:15 AM In reply to

    • DDowdIII
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    Re: Is it Illegal To Carry Prescriptions in a Pill Box?

    Here is what I've always wondered about this.  As somebody who has had to take anti-anxiety meds from time to time, why is it fair to my right to privacy for me to have to carry these around in a large bottle of obvious pharmaceuticals.  This inevitably leads to questions from aquaintances and friends and even strangers as to what they are.  And non-response or refusal to respond is no simpler, subtler or easier than saying "oh I have an anxiety issue dealing with many mundane things." Especially with the strengthening of HIPAA laws in recent years, I am surprised that this has not been brought up before?  Why should it be public knowledge that I am on anything at all?

    Legal, or rather illegal reasoning for this is beyond inane as far as I can tell.  It's akin to gun laws.  Criminals don't legally buy guns, they buy them on the black market and responsible owners have more hoops to jump through and are taxed as well... so gun laws are irrelevant.  Similarly here, if people are going to purchase and abuse pharmaceuticals illegally, I hardly think the package being legally required to be the original, with YOUR name on it in any way deters them from doing so.  It simply makes more hoops for somebody with a legitimate issue to have to jump through.  This seems neither morally nor legally sound to me.

  • Mon, Jun 25 2012 1:49 AM In reply to

    Re: Is it Illegal To Carry Prescriptions in a Pill Box?

    DDowdIII:
    illegal reasoning for this is beyond inane as far as I can tell

    Frankly, I don't know if it's illegal or not as nobody in this thread actually quoted any federal or state statutes to support their opinions.

    As a matter of fact, the TSA website says the following about travelling with medications:

    • "Non-liquid or gel medications of all kinds such as solid pills, or inhalers are allowed through the security checkpoint once they have been screened. We recommend, but do not require, that your medications be labeled to assist with the screening process."

    http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/specialneeds/editorial_1059.shtm

    During my recent 4 day vacation trip I mixed my 4 days worth of medication in one unlabeled pill bottle (instead of 4 or 5 labeled bottles of each) for convenience, consisting of BP medication, aspirin, vitamins, and homeopathic anti-cholesterol capsules.

    Nobody said boo when those items got screened.

    I'm with you though.

    Carrying several bags of unmarked supplies of oxycodone in one's car is probably good for lots of trouble but travelling with a few days worth of your own prescription medication (with maybe the label in your wallet in case you need to show it to law enforcement for some unforseen and bizarre reason) shouldn't be an issue.

     

    • The right of the people 
    • to keep and bear arms,
    • shall not be infringed.
  • Mon, Jun 25 2012 11:56 AM In reply to

    • LG81
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    Re: Is it Illegal To Carry Prescriptions in a Pill Box?

    adjuster jack:
    Frankly, I don't know if it's illegal or not as nobody in this thread actually quoted any federal or state statutes to support their opinions.

    It would, indeed, be helpful for those adamant that the prescriptions must be in an original container to provide a citation.  Under Federal law, it is illegal for an individual to possess a controlled substance that is not prescribed to him or her, but I haven't been able to find anything that makes it illegal to have it in other than the origianal container.  (Many pharmacists will provide smaller empty-and-labled bottles for patients to use for time away from home; that would be other than the original container, and I doubt many pharmacists are interested in losing their careers and facing jail time.)

    There are laws in some states that address the containers in which prescription medication (all) or prescription medication (narcotics).  Several of these laws, however, address only the dispensing of the medication and not the possession.

    Persons with questions may be best off to consult with their pharmacists.  Pharmacists cannot give legal advice, but they can provide legal information and will be familiar with the requirement of their states since it it the states who grant pharmacist licenses.

  • Mon, Jun 25 2012 12:22 PM In reply to

    Re: Is it Illegal To Carry Prescriptions in a Pill Box?

    For those that are convinced they know everything about every law:

    from the Department of Justice/DEA Title 21 United States Code (USC) Controlled Substances Act  http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/21cfr/21usc/index.html

    Texas has the CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE, DRUG, DEVICE AND COSMETIC ACT

    CT has statute: . § 21a-257

    And NY has:  §6811-a.

    These are but three resources.  While law enforcement does not typically pursue grandma over her hypertension medications, people taking anti-anxiety, narcotic, or other class II substances would be wise to carry the medication in the dispensing bottle with a smaller version provided by the pharmacist for privacy needs with the appropriate label mandated by their state to avoid conflicts with Homeland Security and law enforcement when traveling. 

    More often than not when someone is charged with carrying the medication in an unlabeled illegal bottle it is part of more serious drug case with multiple charges not a stand alone criminal issue.

    "That's just my opinion, then again I might be wrong."  Dennis Miller

     

  • Mon, Jun 25 2012 1:57 PM In reply to

    Re: Is it Illegal To Carry Prescriptions in a Pill Box?

    ClydesMom:

    For those that are convinced they know everything about every law:

    from the Department of Justice/DEA Title 21 United States Code (USC) Controlled Substances Act 

    I'm not sure to whom your remark about people who are "convinced they know everything about the law" is directed since I see nothing in this thread that suggests anyone claim to know everything about the law.

    However, since you are apparently asserting that you know this federal statute penalizes persons for carrying their prescriptions in something other than the labeled container the pharmacy provided, would you kindly point out to me where it says that? I read the prohibited acts portion of the Act and found nothing of the sort. What section 844 of the Act states is this, in relevant part:

    "Section 844. Penalty for Simple Possession

    (a) Unlawful acts; penalties

    It shall be unlawful for any person knowingly or intentionally to possess a controlled substance unless such substance was obtained directly, or pursuant to a valid prescription or order, from a practitioner, while acting in the course of his professional practice, or except as otherwise authorized by this subchapter or subchapter II of this chapter. It shall be unlawful for any person knowingly or intentionally to possess any list I chemical obtained pursuant to or under authority of a registration issued to that person under section 823 of this title or section 958 of this title if that registration has been revoked or suspended, if that registration has expired, or if the registrant has ceased to do business in the manner contemplated by his registration. It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly or intentionally purchase at retail during a 30 day period more than 9 grams of ephedrine base, pseudoephedrine base, or phenylpropanolamine base in a scheduled listed chemical product, except that, of such 9 grams, not more than 7.5 grams may be imported by means of shipping through any private or commercial carrier or the Postal Service."

    The statute makes it illegal to possess the controlled substance if you do not have a prescription for it. Nothing in it that I can see, however, says that you must carry the drug in the original labeled container. It therefore seems to me that under federal the law the issue is simply one of evidence. If the FBI or DEA found you in possession of a controlled substance (and not all prescription drugs are controlled substances — a separate federal statute deals with non-controlled substance medications) the issue is whether you have a prescription for it. If the drug is not in the labeled container and the suspect has nothing else with him/her to show that he/she has a prescription, the agent may arrest you and leave it to you later to show the U.S. attorney or a jury that you had the prescription for it.

    Similarly, the Texas Controlled Substances Act, Health and Safety Code chapter 481 makes a crime to possess the controlled substances listed in that Act except that for most controlled substances it is not a crime to possess the drug if "the person obtained the substance directly from or under a valid prescription or order of a practitioner acting in the course of practice." Again, no mention that the person must have it in a labeled container. Thus, like the federal statute, it seems to me that this is an issue of evidence.

    Your NY citation was incomplete. NY statutes are divided into various codes, so a complete citation will have the name of the relevant code and the section, e.g. Penal Code § 135.25 is the crime of first degree kidnapping. I could not readily find the law you referenced, so if you can provide a complete citation I'll look at it.

    Of the statutes you listed, only in the Connecticut statute do I see a clear requirement for the patient to carry the drug in the labeled container. Connecticut statute section 21a-257 states: "A person to whom or for whose use any narcotic drug has been prescribed, sold or dispensed by a physician, dentist, pharmacist or other person authorized under the provisions of section 21a-248, and the owner of any animal for which any such drug has been prescribed, sold or dispensed may lawfully possess it only in the container in which it was delivered to the recipient by the person selling or dispensing the same except as may be authorized by regulations adopted hereunder." This law only applies to narcotic drugs, however, not to all prescription drugs.

    Thus, there is at least one statute that requires carrying some drugs in the labeled container. There is no statute that I am aware of, however, that requires all prescription drugs to be in the labeled container.

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