I have been in Japan for over 10 years now, with a recent 2 year break in which I went back to my own country. During the break, I was diagnosed with a stomach ulcer and acute pancreatitis and put on medication to prevent the daily onset of extremely painful acid indigestion and to manage the pancreatic pain. When I came back to Japan I bought 60 tablets of lansoprazole (30mg) with me but I had already ran out of tramadol before leaving my home country. I didn't have any problems from customs (I had my prescription and a note from the pharmacy). I decided to remain in Japan again on a permanent basis and this medication has subsequently ran out.
I am not yet on the national insurance scheme so I figured I could look in to importing the required medication.
I checked a certain website and they state that it is not illegal to import certain medications as long as they are not narcotics or stimulants and that they do not exceed one months worth and are only for personal use. Well, all of that does apply to these medications and myself. I am not really worried about the Lansoprazole but the Tramadol is an Opioid (opioids are NOT opium, they are medications which bind the the opiod receptors). Having researched a little about medication in Japan, it seems Japan have all medications listed as controlled substances in the USA banned. Tramadol is not a controlled substance and is not officially recognized as a narcotic in the USA but I can't find any official information in Japanese regarding this medication. I know it is prescribed here, and as usual it is weaker than in western countries - 25mg caps (typically 50mg in other countries) but as for importing, I don't know how they would view it.
It is rather important that I do have this medication. At the moment I am taking ガスター１０ Guster 10 but I need 4 of these tablets in one dose for the same effect on acid production as 1 tablet of Lansoprazole. Acetaminophen can only go so far to reduce the pain from the pancreatitis and it is often mixed with an analgesic anti inflammatory such as ethenzamide which irritates my stomach. Again, I have to take 1200mg of acetaminophen to reduce the pain for just 4 hours or so. This is not good for your liver function and is more than double the over the counter dose in Japan. I am using nearly 4000 yen a week on Guster 10 and 1000 yen a week on Naron Ace. Importing the two prescription medications listed above would cost me 5000 yen for a month.
Going to a doctor in Japan would mount costs. Firstly I would have the national insurance to pay, then a monthly visit to a Naika, then the medication costs. This would all be over 14,000 a month (according to my calculations including the 70% coverage from insurance). No doubt they would also want to run a blood test, do x-rays and possibly even another endoscopy, along with other things to "pad out" each medical bill. Not to mention that I do not like the patronizing attitude of physicians in Japan and the fobbing off with placebo medication (Kanpo) but that's another story.
I would just like to know; Has anybody had any experience with importing medication? specifically Tramadol. Including bringing it to the airport with you from your home country and showing it to customs with a prescription.
Thanks in advance!