Jules from the MS community: If I’m going away for an extended holiday, what should I do if I have an injectable treatment and I need to take a supply with me? Is there anything I need to plan in advance or think about?
Julie Taylor, MS Specialist Nurse: There is, yeah. What you sort of need to do, I mean most of the injectables will come with a cool-bag that you will get when you first started to go on this treatment. So you put your injections in your cool-bag, your injections must be kept as hand luggage, they can’t be put in a suitcase.
And that’s because, when you’re travelling out they can’t be put in a suitcase, and that’s because when injections go into the suitcase, when the suitcase goes into the hold in the plane, when the plane goes up, the temperatures in the hold go down to minus, and that actually freezes the injections and you can’t freeze and defrost and then use it again. So they must be kept as hand luggage going out. When you come back, they can go in the suitcase, because they’ll be used and the airline’s not bothered because you can’t get to your suitcase on the plane anyway. But most come with like a travel sharps bin that you can use, otherwise if not, just put your injections that you’ve used into your suitcase to come back home.
What you will need as well when you’re travelling is often some of the airlines, and when you check in would like a letter about your treatment, and often that can be your MS nurse can do that, your MS treatment co-ordinator, and often the drug companies who provide your injections can give you like a holiday passport that you can take to the airport. Because often when you check in they’ll want to know what is this injection for, who’s providing it, and it gives lots of details on it of who your consultant is, who your MS nurse is, why you’re on this treatment and what it’s for. So I would always advise before to get that organised. When you do get to your destination, if – there’s a lot of treatments, the injectables now don’t have to be kept in the fridge all the time, which is a lot better now for travelling – so there’s certain injections like Avonex, can be kept out of the fridge for a week.
So if you were going away for just a few days or a week, then you wouldn’t have to worry about refrigeration. Longer than that, then obviously you would have to look have to look at refrigeration at your destination. Copaxone can be left out for 28 days, so you won’t have to again worry about refrigeration. Plegridy, one of the newer injections, that can also be kept out for 28 days. And Rebif can be kept out for two weeks. So there is actually ways round not having to worry about carrying the cool-bag, because it is classed, actually the cool-bag, as part of your hand luggage as well. So you do need to be aware of that. But if you don’t keep your injections in the fridge when you’re at your destination, they need to be kept below 25 degrees, so not, I mean most places are air-conditioned anyway, but they’re not sat in the bright sunshine or they must be kept quite cool, below that anyway, when you are using it. So, it can be worked round, actually, where you don’t have to, sort of have to worry about refrigeration, we can get around that.
Jules: So if I’m going somewhere really hot, would I then need to maybe think a bit more carefully?
Julie: I would do. I would just, again, it’s all about pre-planning isn’t it, before you go away and being sort of, like looking at that there is a fridge if you do need to, if you’re going to be away longer than two weeks that there is a fridge in your room and ensuring that’s there and ensuring, you know, when you’re travelling from the plane to your hotel, how long that is there, you know. Sometimes it can be a few hours’ travelling, do you have a cool-bag that you could maybe put them in till you get to your destination.
But if it’s just for sort of like a short holiday, you might, you’ll be fine as long as they are kept nice and cool. But I would check that before, because lots of patients have got to their destination, realised a fridge wasn’t in the room, and you can be paying quite a few hundred pounds extra to get a fridge in your room when if you’d pre-planned it you would have been able to have been okay without that. So it’s all just a bit about forward planning a little bit and just speaking with your MS team as well, just a bit of advice there, a guide on travelling.