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Semester Abroad in Barcelona


My son was diagnose with UC when he was 15 years old. He tried so many medications throughout the years and was on Prednison for the longest time.

I am from Israel and my husband is from Germany and we live in California for many years.

Our son was diagnosed with UC 5 years ago at age 15. It was a tough time with multiple hospitalization. It was also very challenging to find the right medication…most of the medications only worked for a very short time even thought the doses were high ( like the Humira… he was taking for a while- 2 injection per week…). Through High School he was taking a low dose of Prednisone. That seemed to help a lot but had a visual price… the moon-face that he was so about…

Today he is doing better thanks to a great medication -Entyvio (vedolizumab) that he gets as an infusion once a month.

He is in college and doing well, in remission for several months. Next Semester he would have a wonderful opportunity to study abroad in Barcelona for 3 months. I thought he might be able to take the medication with him and find a doctor / clinic in Barcelona that will give him the medication as infusion, but apparently it might not be possible..
Can I kindly ask for your ideas, how and where can he continue receiving this magical infusion when he is away from the USA?

I contacted as well the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation and here are some very good advices:

“It is important to remember that patients can travel with IBD; it is just a matter of planning ahead. It is important that your son to familiarize himself with health care centers in that country. Since he will be there for the semester it will be important to have international medical insurance and find a doctor in Spain.

As you found out, US health insurance companies will not likely pay for the cost of treatment outside of the US unless it is an emergency. You can also request information on a “vacation waiver” from your insurer to see it that might be an option. The out of pocket cost in the US for Entyvio may be as high as $6,100 per vial for many patients. However in Europe it may be more that 50% less than the cost in the US. Some patients weight the cost of travel back to the US for treatment or cost of international health insurance that may cover the medication. If your son decides to fly back for the treatment, you could ask family & friends for “donated travel miles” to help you get him back home for the treatment. Please review your options and also speak with other patients/families who may have made similar choices. To speak with other patients who traveled abroad with a similar situation log onto Campus Connection or our online community at: . There is a travel forum on our community site that may be helpful for you to review.”

So here I am asking for some more advices…any idea?

Thank you so much for all your help,
wishing you all health and happiness
best regards,
Aviv Alberts

9 thoughts on “Semester Abroad in Barcelona”

  1. Hi, try contacting the pharmaceutical company directly. But these processes usually take time to arrange. The suggestion of him traveling back to the US to get treatment and then back to Spain may be a good option and ultimately the less expensive and safest.

        1. Hey Michele,

          You should give as well a quick look to this page:

          Dr. Cardenas is a GI doc in Barcelona. Also, him and I did a video interview here on the site a while back here:

          Anyways, he’s a pretty nice guy, and I think if you emailed him, he might be nice enough to get back to you with some ideas.

          Best to you,


  2. Hi,

    I have no experience with receiving treatment in a foreign country, but since the medication will probably be cheaper in Spain maybe it would be possible for his health insurance to cover the treatment. Traveling back and forth from Spain might takes a toll on your sons body with the jet lag. Maybe ask the University your son attends or the University he will be attending in Spain how to work receiving medication. They must of dealt with this issue before.



  3. Hi Aviv:

    Our son had a similar situation this past year. He is also on an injectable medication. We get the medication as usual and we fedex it to him overseas. We bought small cooler packs that holds the ice that the biologic injectable drug that is sent to our house comes with. We found these small cooler packs in the 99 cent store. It originally cost us over $200 to send the first set of drugs but then we found a cheaper option through fedex. My husband is the one that arranged this,
    if you would like more details I will find them out. It has been costly, about $70 per shipment but nothing like flying home! It is wonderful your son will be able to study abroad. It has been the best experience of our son’s life so far!

  4. Hi Aviv,

    I hope my answer arrives on time. I work in Barcelona and live in a small town northwards.
    My GI is not in Barcelona city so I can’t help you with finding one here. However, I know there are very good doctors at Hospital Clinic, experts in IBD:
    What I can tell you is that the health system here is free and universal. This means that anyone (no matter what) will be attented for free and prescribed the medications they need which they will be able to purchase at a reduced price. So, I suspect you might not need an insurance. Anyway, it’s never a bad idea to get one.
    In any case, I think that the best suggestion is to contact the hospital, as they will certainly have all the information for you:
    Finally, if you wish, we can stay in contact in case your son needs anything during his stay. I won’t leave my info here, but maybe Adam can get us in contact?

  5. Hello!

    I am very excited for your son, what a great opportunity. I was in Spain in 2017 and got into a flare that sent me to the hospital. I had a horrible experience on Remicade and Humira so I don’t take biologics but I know Entivio well – it is its own drug class, very different from the other biologics but unfortunately there aren’t any other brands and to my knowledge it is IV infusion only. I know Entivio was available in Spain as they wanted me to get a treatment but I hadn’t heard of it at that time and I managed to get well enough to get out of the hospital.

    Go to the Entivio website – they have extensive tool and resources to help you travel outside the country and get treatment:

    If he is prescribed Entivio in the US, you should be able to set up treatment options with the help of Entivio directly via their site. We travel out of country and I am considereing starting Entivio as it is one of the easiest biologics to get outside of the US and Entivio will send your medication anywhere in the world you need it.

    The healthcare system in Spain was far better than I have experienced in Europe – my family is from Greece and Switzerland and Spain was as good if not better than Switzerland. I noticed that Patri commented that healthcare is free in Spain but that is not entirely true for a non EU citizen. If you are not an EU citizen, you have to pay for treatment or have a travel policy unless you have an emergency situation. You may have gotten your son dual German citizenship because of his father but if he is not a dual citizen, then he has to pay for treatment. (If you haven’t gotten him dual citizenship, then he should get it – always a good thing to have and his parents do not have to currently live in German or the EU to get it, if his father is a German citizen, he can file for citizenship via birthright to Germany.)

    I hope that help! Good luck to your son.

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