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6 Tips for Traveling With Biologics for Psoriasis

Medically reviewed by Jazmin N. McSwain, PharmD, BCPS
Written by Sarah Winfrey
Posted on March 1, 2024

“Has anyone done any travel overseas with a biologic?” a MyPsoriasisTeam member asked. “How did you keep it cold in hot climes? And what about needle storage?”

Biologic drugs are compounds that may include proteins, nucleic acids, or living cells derived from humans, animals, or microorganisms. Transporting biologic medications — which must be kept at a certain temperature — can be an added stress while traveling. In fact, in one study of people prescribed biologics, 26 percent reported that they simply didn’t bring their medications with them on trips because it too stressful. They said they mostly worried about transporting their medication and storing it once they got to their destination.

If you don’t take your medication while on vacation, though, you may end up like one MyPsoriasisTeam member who said, “I just got back from vacation and am dealing with a flare-up.”

The National Psoriasis Foundation notes that traveling can lead to worse psoriasis flare-ups because the stress that often comes with trips is a major trigger for the condition. One MyPsoriasisTeam member expected that things could get worse. They explained, “I’m traveling, so I was up early with no time to slow down today. Tomorrow, I’ll stop and see how bad the trip affects me!! It’s a liquid situation. You never know!!”

Luckily, you don’t have to avoid making travel plans or leave your medications at home. Here’s what you need to know about traveling with biologics, including tips on how to store them and how to administer them to yourself when on the road.

Transportation Challenge: Refrigeration

People with psoriasis may use biologic drugs if they have moderate to severe psoriasis and/or the first few medications don’t control their symptoms. Biologic drugs affect certain parts of the immune system to control inflammation.

The key to understanding traveling with biologics is to know that some of them need constant refrigeration, while others can be out of the fridge for certain periods of time. Even room temperature is too warm for most of these drugs. Keeping biologics at the right temperature is not only on you but also on everyone involved — from the time the medication is made to the time you take it. This is called the “cold chain.”

Because biologic therapies are important for treating your psoriasis (and no one wants to experience a flare while traveling), it’s essential to know how to transport your medications safely so they’ll maintain effectiveness and continue to work for you, no matter what.

Tips for Traveling Successfully With Biologics

These five tips will help you travel safely with your biologic medications to ensure you can treat your psoriasis from anywhere.

1. Know How Cold Your Meds Need to Be

It’s not enough for your meds to be refrigerated — they also need to be kept at a particular temperature. Cold chain storage protocols have a recommended range of 35 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit (2 to 8 degrees Celsius). One study from the journal Rheumatology considered meds out of temperature range when they were below 32 F (0 C) or above 77 F (25 C). Some deviations are acceptable, and different medications may require different storage temperatures.

It’s not enough for your meds to be refrigerated — they also need to be kept at a particular temperature. These instructions are usually listed on the drug’s packaging.

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You should ask your dermatologist or pharmacist how cold you should keep your medications if you’re not sure. These instructions are usually listed on the box or on an informational sheet inside the box. Temperature information might also be found on the drug manufacturer’s website.

2. Store Your Medications in a Cooler To Keep Them Cold

Make a plan for how you will keep your medication cold. You can use a cooler or small cooling bag, put in the number of doses you’ll need while traveling, and add an ice pack. Test the storage container’s temperature to ensure it’s cool enough before transporting your medications. You can practice ahead of time with a thermometer to determine how cold your cooler gets and how long it stays cool, so you know what to expect when traveling.

Some biologic medications may come with their own storage cooler, or one may be available from the manufacturer. Sometimes, you may need to pay extra for these special coolers. Having a cooler designed for your medication may take out some of the guesswork for you when you travel.

3. Keep Your Medications With You at All Times

If you’re flying, you’ll need to bring your medication as a carry-on item when you board the plane. Never check your medications as luggage. Travel with paperwork about your medication, including a letter from your health care provider authorizing you to have the medications. You may also need a copy of your prescription, as well as a letter from the company that makes the medication.

If you’re flying, you’ll need to bring your medication as a carry-on item when you board the plane. Never check your medications.

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If possible, transport your medication in its original container. That way, officials will see that you are following the rules and have proof that your medication is what you say it is. ​

This paperwork should allow you to take your medications through security without a problem. You will also need to tell the security agent that you have medically necessary liquids before you start the screening process. You may get stopped and have to show your documentation. TSA and other security organizations should let you through without problems. If they have questions, they may call your doctor or the drug manufacturer to find out more.

4. Follow Airline and International Rules for Transporting Your Medications

Different countries have different laws about medications. Even medicines that are common in the U.S. may be prohibited or have increased laws around them in other countries. Make sure you check to ensure that your biologic medication will be permitted in any country you want to travel to. You can check with the local embassy of the country you want to visit or talk to your doctor. You may also want to check with the airline you’re flying to see if they have any special rules about how they prefer to have medication transported.

5. Dispose of Needles the Right Way

If you do subcutaneous injections, carry your own sharps disposal container for your needles (including the plunger), as well as your prefilled syringe, autoinjector, or other injection device. These come in smaller versions that you can tuck in your car’s cup holder or pack in your suitcase. Make sure you have plenty to use throughout your trip. ​

In many cases, you can take your filled container back to your health care professional’s office. They’ll dispose of it for you or tell you where you can get rid of it. If your container gets full on your trip and you don’t want to wait, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends you research local laws for disposing of used sharps. You may have to take them to a hazardous waste disposal location or a supervised medical collection site.

6. Talk With Your Doctor

If you’re well enough to travel but worried about transporting your medications, talk with your dermatology provider. They can help you find a way to bring your medications with you without any issues. You should also reach out to them if you’re worried about experiencing any side effects or allergic reactions to your medications while you’re gone, if you have problems at an injection site during your trip, or if family members or caregivers are concerned about your drug administration or have other questions.

Find Your Team

On MyPsoriasisTeam, the social network for people with psoriasis and their loved ones, more than 126,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with psoriasis.

Are you planning to travel and need to take your biologics with you? Do you have any tips for traveling with biologics? Share your experience in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on your Activities page.

Posted on March 1, 2024
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Jazmin N. McSwain, PharmD, BCPS completed pharmacy school at the University of South Florida College of Pharmacy and residency training at Bay Pines Veterans Affairs. Learn more about her here.
Sarah Winfrey is a writer at MyHealthTeam. Learn more about her here.

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