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Is it safe to put methotrexate injections though airport security scanners?

Q) There seem to be conflicting opinions as to whether it's safe to put methotrexate injections through the airport security scanner. Can you advise please?
Eileen (Winter 2016)

A) It is safe to put methotrexate injections through airport security scanners. Most medications aren't affected by the low doses of radiation emitted by airport screening machines, even if they're exposed several times in a trip.

Certain anti-rheumatic drugs called biological therapies, for example rituximab or etanercept, require special handling and controlled temperature storage for travel and travellers sometimes worry about putting them through the x-ray machine. But according to the US's Federal Drug Administration, any harmful effects from x-rays on these medications would occur only at doses significantly higher than the radiation received from airport screening devices.

If a drug's effectiveness or safety could be affected by airport x-ray screening, the danger will be indicated on the label or package insert. If you're still concerned, you can call the manufacturer of each of your medications. Otherwise, simply ask to have your carry-on bag inspected by hand and make sure your medication is in a bag that can be easily separated from your other carry-on baggage to reduce delays.

Remember you should always carry medication in its original, correctly labelled packages and travel with a copy of your prescription. Read more on flying with medication.

This answer was provided by Dr Tom Margham for the Winter 2016 edition of our magazine, Arthritis Today, and was correct at the time of publication.

Send your questions for Dr Tom Margham to

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