Medication in the Philippines

Many potential expats thinking of living in the Philippines are interested in the state of prescription drugs in the Philippines. The news about prescription drugs in the Philippines is basically good.

Expat talks of prescription drugs in the PhilippinesThe biggest problem with prescription drugs in the Philippines is that some of them are not available here. However, my doctor is quite good at dealing with this. My limited experience with other doctors is they are all well armed in this area. They have a little book they quickly whip out and find a suitable alternative in most cases. The alternative is usually a generic and cost a great deal less than what I paid for the original in the USA.

If you have to go with a brand name drug, the cost of the drug will be about the same here as it is in the USA. Sometimes it is a little more but the difference is usually minute and not really worth a second thought. My medication bill went from over $1100 a month before insurance to a bit less than $200 a month in the Philippines.

Many drugs in the Philippines can be obtained without a prescription. That includes prescription medications. When the drug is addicting or very dangerous people are usually not able to get it without a prescription. However, I’ve even known one person buying methotrexate without a prescription. That is a dangerous drug actually. In high doses it use to be common treatment for some kinds of cancer. In much lower dose it is used for auto-immune disorders like lupus. It can cause liver failure and those taking it need to have blood test every six weeks. I would not take that drug if the proper blood test were not being done. So be careful, you can hurt yourself with the wrong meds.

I nearly bought an antibiotic once that could have killed me. It had a black box warning when combined with another drug that I was taking. A black box warning is the highest warning as far as i know. If I had not done extensive research, I wouldn’t have known this and it could have caused death.

There is some problem with fake drugs in the Philippines but usually you’ll avoid that if you stick  with the big chains like Mercury and Rose Pharmacy. I think they are located in all regions of the Philippines. I love to be able to support the small and pop shops but when it comes to meds, I recommend you stay with those two or perhaps another national chain.

The other problem I run into is that like most things in the Philippines sometimes there are outages. Sometimes I have not been able to get my medication. This rare but it does happen. I no longer take one drug because of this. Twice I couldn’t get it and it is one of those that causes severe distress if you suddenly stop taking it. I had quit smoking for two months when I found I couldn’t get this all of a sudden. That’s when I started smoking again and have been unable to quit. The drug has a sedative effect and would probably make me stop smoking easy. However, I don’t want to have to get off the drug again. I’d rather just smoke. Stopping that medication is horrific and it also raises blood sugar a bit when I’m on it.

Last month, Jessie saw people having trouble buying insulin. That is a very bad situation. It really makes me angry. That shouldn’t happen. I don’t know why it happened though and I try to not be critical but it is hard. So you should make sure you have extra of everything you take and order long before you run out.

Medical Treatment in the Philippines

I’m not yet sure what I think of medical treatment in the Philippines. What I’ve had so far is okay but there have been some concerns. I suspect I’ll know a great deal more about that in the coming days. More on that once I have more information.  I went to see the local dermatologist yesterday and he told me it was time for me to go to see my doctor in Cebu. One problem with living in the rural areas is adequate medical treatment. I can see a time that I may have to move back to Cebu City for easier medical treatment. That may come sooner than I want it too.

Medication has not been much of a problem for me though and it is unlikely that it will be for you. It will be difficult to find out exactly what you cannot get here before you arrive. If you have a critical medication, you might want to ask your doctor about that before you arrive.

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Filed under: Medical Treatment In The Philippines

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