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BANGKOK 22 March 2019 03:07
Khaeng Mak

Alternatives To Thailand: Pharmacy Drug Situation

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Given the recent immigration rule changes and the impact they have had on my life here in Thailand, I am reading, with interest, the many new posts discussing the ins and outs of alternative retirement destinations.

 

One thing that I do like in Thailand is the fact that I can usually buy the medication that I need from a local Pharmacy without a prescription.

 

This saves me some money but more importantly at my age, it saves me time.

 

I was in a remote area of Malaysia last year and needed some amoxicillin.  It was a massive all day ordeal to sign up at the local clinic, join the massive cue to see a doctor, get the prescription, and then buy the antibiotic.

 

In Thailand I can just walk into any pharmacy and buy a sheet of 10 amoxicillin capsules for 50 baht.

 

I have been here a long time so I am well aware that some drugs require a prescription here also. But for many medications, such as antibiotics and my blood pressure pills, I do not need to go to the doctor first.

 

I would like to discuss whether a prescription is required in the following countries. If you have actual experience please share your knowledge. Perhaps we can create a list. And general comments on the price of drugs (cheaper or more expensive that Thailand) should also prove useful:

 

Malaysia (Prescription required. More expensive)

Indonesia

Philippines

Vietnam

Cambodia

China (Mainland)

Taiwan

 

These are the alternative retirement destinations that are of interest to me.  However, I note that many are discussing South American and Southern European options. Please add those to this discussion if you wish.

 

 

 

Edited by Khaeng Mak

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Common antibiotics or blood pressure pills can be bought without prescription in all of these countries. 

Indonesia: what is available maybe very different from what is available in the West (and what you may be used to). Cheap.

Vietnam: it can be very difficult to find a pharmacy.  Stock may be very limited. 

China: the pharmacist will not know the English names of medication. 

Taiwan: more expensive than Thailand (still cheap though) but overall similar situation. 

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Cambodia is even more liberal than Thailand in terms of what is sold over the counter. BUT care has to be taken to avoid counterfeit drugs and the quality of medical care, when you do need a doctor, is abysmal. Not a good location for an older person ir anyone with chronic medical conditions.

 

Viet Nam is better in that regard but thete too, have to be wary of counterfeit drugs. In fact most of the counterfeits in Cambodia come in from VN.

 

Sent from my SM-J701F using Thailand Forum - Thaivisa mobile app

 

 

 

 

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Mexico, Columbia, Argentina, Ecuador and Peru (and no doubt others) -- you can buy meds without scrips but not certain of specific restrictions in specific countries.

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In the Malaysian states in Borneo, I was able to buy blood pressure meds over the counter at a pharmacies.  About the same price as Thailand for generics.  Believe me, I needed them because the extra-salty Malaysian food was driving my BP through the roof.  Difficult to find a good salad, especially in Sarawak.

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14 hours ago, Sheryl said:

Cambodia is even more liberal than Thailand in terms of what is sold over the counter. BUT care has to be taken to avoid counterfeit drugs and the quality of medical care, when you do need a doctor, is abysmal. Not a good location for an older person ir anyone with chronic medical conditions.

 

Viet Nam is better in that regard but thete too, have to be wary of counterfeit drugs. In fact most of the counterfeits in Cambodia come in from VN.

 

Sent from my SM-J701F using Thailand Forum - Thaivisa mobile app

 

 

 

 

Are counterfeits a problem here Sheryl?  Cant say I have ever suspected anything I have bought here to be fake.

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11 hours ago, Khaeng Mak said:

Are counterfeits a problem here Sheryl?  Cant say I have ever suspected anything I have bought here to be fake.

Only in tourist areas and only for certain drugs specifically aimed at tourists e.g. Viagra, Cialis, Xanax etc.  Prescription-only or controlled drugs seemingly sold on the street openly ---> usually fake.

 

Other than this no, not common here.

 

In Camb and VN the fakes are especially the French import name brands as these sell for enough to be worth counterfeiting..

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33 minutes ago, Sheryl said:

Only in tourist areas and only for certain drugs specifically aimed at tourists e.g. Viagra, Cialis, Xanax etc.  Prescription-only or controlled drugs seemingly sold on the street openly ---> usually fake.

 

Other than this no, not common here.

 

In Camb and VN the fakes are especially the French import name brands as these sell for enough to be worth counterfeiting..

Thanks for that.  So basically if I buy my stuff from a pharmacy and not a hawker or street vendor in tourist trap area not much chance of getting a fake.

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It's actually interesting to see what is legal and OTC here but illegal even though the drug is legal and OTC in other countries.  Pseudoephedrine (decongestant) is illegal here without a prescription which doctors here seem reluctant to give you.  Pseudoephedrine is a precursor to methamphetamine and the government is afraid you will take your 30 tablets of Pseudoephedrine, grind them up, and make a few micro-grams of meth out of them even though it completely beyond the capabilities of anyone but hard-core meth cooks (Think Breaking Bad).
Likewise, the mild stimulant, Kratom, isn't even legal to possess or to dispense in Thailand, but it can be openly purchase in the US and other Western countries. 
But, as you said, all sorts of other meds that would initially cost you price of a doctor's visit in the West and other countries are easily available here.  At the end of the day I prefer Thailand over the West in this regard.

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Do doctors actually give you a prescription you can take to a pharmacy to buy meds?

 

I have always gotten the drugs from the doctor or hospital.

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23 minutes ago, zlodnick said:

Do doctors actually give you a prescription you can take to a pharmacy to buy meds?

 

I have always gotten the drugs from the doctor or hospital.

 They will if you ask.  You pay quite a high premium for drugs dispensed from a hospital (at least a private one, like the Bangkok Hospital group).  There may be times when that convenience (or unavailability elsewhere) makes it worth it, but mostly all my long-term prescriptions are filled outside of a hospital at a local pharmacy (Supercheap in Phuket).  I've wondered if they could be purchased more cheaply from an online source in Thailand but I never really pursued that avenue.

 

I should correct this.  I've never gotten a "prescription" from a doctor, they just write down the name of the drug or tell me the name of the drug and give me dosage instructions.  Sometimes they will even point me to a particular pharmacy or doctor's clinic where the drugs can be purchased.  They mostly understand there's a high markup on the hospital dispensed drugs and so they are pretty cooperative about alternatives especially if they understand you are self-insuring.

Edited by skatewash
added last paragraph

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