Take me, Taiwan?

Howdy folks, I have some research updates to report! This week I’ve focused on finding the answers to the following questions:

1. Is medicine available in destination country?
2. Can I bring medicine into destination country?
3. How much medicine can I bring into destination country?
4. How do I obtain medicine in destination country?
5. How much does medicine cost in destination country?
And, perhaps most importantly,
6. Will my medication/ condition cause me to fail the health check in destination country?

I limited my research to Taiwan specifically since it’s currently at the top of my listΒ and because it’s quicker to search through one country’s information rather than three or four’s at a time. I was able to find answers to my first three questions and touched some on the last.

1. Is medicine available in destination country?
Yes, Humira is available in Taiwan in the form of a pre-filled syringe. I called Humira (1-800-448-6472), left some information, and was later called back by the Abbvie medical information department. The woman that I talked to confirmed that Humira is available in Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Spain, and Italy.

2. Can I bring medicine into destination country?/Β  3. How much medicine can I bring into destination country?
According to the website of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in New York, “Medicines, if not exceeding 6 items, are allowed to be brought in for personal use.” Nothing that Taiwan considers to be a narcotic can be brought into the country. I do not think Humira is included, but I’m currently hunting for that list. My Humira pens come in packs of two, so I would also very much like to know if this rule limits me to bringing six pens or six packages of pens.

I think I’ll need an inside source to be able to answer questions four and five. The American Institute in Taiwan provides a list of several doctors and hospitals located there. Two of the doctors listed specialize in “Allergy, Immunology and Rheumatology,” which seem to be grouped together in Taiwan. I don’t know if they’d have time or be willing to answer an e-mail, but I’m going to try to contact them and see what they know.

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that the health check I reference in question six is what worries me the most about this whole process. I feel confident that I can find my way once I get to Taiwan, Chinese and all, but the health check is the gate that I first have to pass through. If I fail it because I have AS then I can’t get an Alien Resident Certificate (ARC), without which I don’t think I can work legally. I found a very interesting blog post arguing that you don’t actually need one, but I’m not crazy about the idea of getting deported, so this will be a purely by-the-rules venture.

I did find some good, solid information about what they look for during the health check. The Taiwan Centers for Disease Control lists the “Items Required for Health Certificate for Residence in Taiwan” here. If the evaluation is done by the listed criteria alone, then I should be golden. I’ve read that you must also provide your medical history however, and they will surely base their decision partially off of what they find there. I sent an e-mail to the CDC explaining my condition and asking if it will impact my health check- fingers crossed that I get a positive answer back soon!

Another potential resource is the Ankylosing Spondylitis Caring Society of R.O.C.Β I feel like this group is more likely to respond than any individual doctor or office, and will hopefully be able to provide me with information about Humira in Taiwan as well as the health check. They will be receiving an e-mail from em as well πŸ™‚

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