General Question

seekingwolf's avatar

How can I carry my pills without all the bottles?

Asked by seekingwolf (10410points) January 29th, 2014

Okay, so I’ve had weight loss surgery (lost over 35 lb so far, very happy) and while I’m off a couple medications, I am still needing my rx antidepressants and a lot of supplements, which means for a LOT more pills.

I’ve taken rx pills for years and either took them in the morning or evening. However, now I need to take pills in the afternoon.

I have several bottles but don’t want to lug them everywhere. I want to pick out the pills that I need and put them into a small pill carrier and take them to work. It’s hard for me to take a bag of stuff to work because there’s no place where I can put it (I don’t have an office or even a locker) so I definitely don’t want to take my pill bottles with me and risk having them stolen or something.

However, I’m concerned about the legality of this. Isn’t it illegal to transport your rx pills outside of the original bottle?

BTW, if it matters, I am not on anything addictive. I don’t take pain meds. Just the same old antidepressants that I have been on since I was a young teen. And now tons of supplements.

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35 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

When I was taking a lot of supplements and traveling, I used mini zip-lock bags. 2 inches by 3 inches There are several smaller sizes….1.5” x 2” and 1.5” x 1.5.” And of course, larger ones. Just fill the appropriate sized bag and put it in your purse or pocket.

It is not illegal to transfer Rx pills into another container. People who fly often use versions of these if the pills aren’t too bulky, here. They are designed to be used for a week. When my mother developed dementia, we used two of these for morning and evening so she wouldn’t get confused with having to open bottles.

hearkat's avatar

There are many pill organizers on the market, and I’m sure a web search will bring up something suitable for you. I’ve never considered whether there are laws regulating the labeling of containers that meds are in – but I don’t think the market would offer so many options if it were illegal.

seekingwolf's avatar

I do have one of those pill organizers. It’s quite small and it’s a “daily” one, with an AM and PM section that are pretty deep. I guess you guys are right. I just was worried.

seekingwolf's avatar

“I don’t think the market would offer so many options if it were illegal.”

This made me giggle but for other reasons. :) I’m in a state where weed is illegal but decriminalized. Near my last apartment there was not 1, not 2, but 3 (!!!) weed accessory stores in 2 blocks. One store even had “420” in its name. And none of them sold tobacco or cigars so definitely not your typical smoke stores.

Illegal but a ton of options!

janbb's avatar

No – not at all. I always carry my pills in one plastic case.

I think when you are traveling abroad you are supposed to carry them in the original bottles but I have used a pill stacking container from LL Bean for years and never had a problem. Not an issue at all.

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

I use those small, snack-size zipper bags.

I need to take medications 3X per day, so I use 3 bags labeled “morning,” “afternoon,” and “bedtime.” I stock each bag with the appropriate pills, for as many days as I’ll be gone plus 2–4 extras. The extra doses are a really good idea; you just never know when you’ll be unexpectedly delayed (my in-laws were traveling to New York on 09/11/01, and they spent several days grounded in Canada).

filmfann's avatar

I use a pill container with days of the week on them, but I understand your concern for carrying the pills without the prescription bottle. Perhaps you can get a print out from your doctor, showing you have been prescribed these medicines.

KNOWITALL's avatar

You should check with your local authorities. In my area, if you have any kind of controlled substance like xanax or hydrocodone then you have to keep them in the updated bottle and the name has to match. I’m not sure if your supplements and things would be applicable with that rule though.

bolwerk's avatar

Something like this?

If you have multiple doses per day, you can sort them in the morning in a few of these.

Dutchess_III's avatar

It’s funny how we make the pill bottle child proof, then turn around and put them in an organizer that any 9 month old can get open.

Seek's avatar

Along with what @KNOWITALL said:

If your partner can’t pick up your pills at the pharmacy for you, you cannot transport them outside their bottle in my state.

For oxycodone and other opiates, every individual pill you’re carrying outside the bottle is a separate felony charge.

gailcalled's avatar

I just mailed in a bubble-wrap package the 30 5–325 Percocet and 20 Valium (that I did not use post-surgery) to a friend in another state. Should I have not labled them “beads” on the envelop? I’ll let you know what federal pen I end up in.

Seek's avatar

Dude, where’s the love? Who needs Valium more than me?

Buttonstc's avatar

Even tho my prescriptions come in various size bottles, the only one I’m seriously concerned about is the pain med.

I asked my Pharmacist for the smallest size bottle they have along with a duplicate label from the one for pain.

About every six months or so, I ask for a duplicate label so its up to date and I just put the new label on the same small bottle.

As long as I always have this small bottle with me (and its proper label, I’m not worried. The info on the label can be easily verified by simply calling the pharmacy which, of course, has the Dr’s prescription on file.

The types of people likely to get in trouble are those who just bought a few pills off the local illicit dealer and have them tucked away in their pockets without any verification to back up their legal right to be carrying them.

As long as you have a duplicate label from your pharmacy, there shouldn’t be a problem.

You won’t be arrested for carrying around a bunch of LEGAL supplements regardless of whether they’re labeled or not.

If none of your meds are UNVERIFIABLE controlled substances, there’s nothing for which you can be in trouble.

Buttonstc's avatar


Aren’t you in Florida, the land of accommodating script writers; the type of clinics where you walk in and come out five mins. later with a script for several months supply of whatever you request ?

Or have the state finally cracked down on them and put them out of business ?

Seek's avatar

Most of the script mills are out of business. It’s a combination of higher prices at the pharmacy and this new thing where the pharmacist can profile you and decide that you “look like a drug addict” and choose not to fill your prescription. I have one friend who is a long-haired Native American who has been in the hospital several times with seizures because he couldn’t find someone to fill his Xanax prescription.

snowberry's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr Yes indeed, that’s quality continuity of care right there! How much more “professional” can they get? Of course, when you think about it, it’s not much different than NYC’s police policy of stop and frisk profiling.

Buttonstc's avatar

Well that’s certainly going from one extreme to another, isn’t it?

The Pharmacist is too lazy to pick up the phone to verify with the Drs. office that its legit? Sheesh.

WestRiverrat's avatar

My mother carries hers in #1 coin envelops labeled with the time of day they are supposed to be used.

Buttonstc's avatar


I really hope you’re kidding since its not necessarily the mailing of them, but just the fact that you’re transferring them to someone for whom its not been prescribed.

(Or did your Pharmacist neglect to stick on that dayglo orange label which states that it LITERALLY is, in fact, “a Federal case” ?)


seekingwolf's avatar

Yeah, it’s illegal in my state to have certain rx drugs out of the bottle, like pain meds.

However, i am definitely not on any pain meds. I actually left the hospital without any, I hate using them! I am just on 2 antidepressants that are not controlled substances or even abused. (actually, if you tried to abuse them, you’d end up in the hospital, not high).

All of my supplements are legal and fine, not too worried about those. More just about my rx drugs. I had to stop taking a sustained release one so now I need to take 3 pills over the course of the day.

laurenkem's avatar

For the most part, @Seek_Kolinahr, but I think they’re still out there hovering. One of my co-workers recently needed something stronger than pharmaceutical ibuprofen for her fiancĂ© who has a nasty sounding hernia. The doctor told her that if she wants actual “pain meds”, i.e. Lortab, etc., he would need a $300.00 “fee” for writing that scrip.

That being said, I have traveled on an airplane with a small bottle left over from my Omeprazole (generic Prilosec) stash filled with Ibuprofen and Xanax in my purse, and no one even looked at me sideways.

They took my friggin’ toothpaste, though. Yep, that shit was dangerous.

josie's avatar

Controlled substances have to be in labeled containers when you travel. Just like firearms have to be in locked hard cases. Non Controlled substances, OTC preps and vitamins do not qualify.

Seek's avatar

@laurenkem The main thing is getting searched for DWC – Driving While Colored. If you get pulled over and end up having your constitutional rights violated to the point that you’re turning out your pockets, or even if you’re in a car accident and they find some pills in your car or on your person that aren’t in their marked containers, you can wake up a felon.

The TSA isn’t terribly concerned with medications, since they’re not baby formula or being smuggled in adult diapers on handicapped old ladies.

gailcalled's avatar

My surgeon is in MA and I live in NY. When I needed a refill script for a post-surgery pain med. (much milder than Percocet), I had to have a written script in hand, given by the doctor himself and not a nurse) to me. The normal routine of electronic scripts, even w. a confirming phone call from doctor to pharmacist, is now illegal.

@Buttonstc: I did notice the orange sticker but never actually read the fine print, since I was not planning on operating heavy machinery.

gailcalled's avatar

@Buttonstc:I finally did read the orange day-glow label on a bottle of Tramadol. It’s a good thing I was joking about sending my friend some of my unused meds., isn’t it?

Seek's avatar

Ultram (Tramadol) isn’t even an opiate.

However, I don’t recommend mixing it with alcohol. I washed one down with a beer and slept for like 15 hours.

gailcalled's avatar

Whatever it is or isn’t, it requiires a real old-fashioned paper perscription, signed by my surgeon and handed to me in his office, which I have to present to my pharmacist since I am traveling over state lines. And the scary orange day-glow label is certainly in-your-face.

As a serious pain killer, without the beer, I found that with two Tylenol, it just took a modest bite out of the post-surgery pain I was feeling. Too bad I don’t drink.

Seek's avatar

Yeah, all that stuff did was make me feel funny. Didn’t help the pain much at all.

gailcalled's avatar

edit; prescription

Buttonstc's avatar


Yeah. now you realize why the term “make a federal case out of it” can be applied very literally if they choose to do so.

And it doesn’t even have to go in the mail. Just handing it out to others, no matter how well-intentioned, can do it.

gailcalled's avatar

^^ So I should stop doling out my extra Tramadols at Ralph’s Pretty Good CafĂ© in town to friends wtih headaches or paper cuts?

Buttonstc's avatar

You got it !


seekingwolf's avatar

I managed to ask a friend of a friend who is in law enforcement and he laughed and said that I would be fine! I’m not on any narcotics, just a few non-restricted antidepressants and supplements. Again, no problem. So I am not going to worry about it anymore. It was nice to have someone in law confirm this for me.

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