Generally, you can get your medications from Pharmacies in the Philippines. However, some medications are not available here. Your doctor can usually help you find a substitute for most of those things. There may be a few items you just cannot get here. When that is the case, I order my medications from Canada or other foreign country and have those shipped her by Johnny Air Cargo.

There are some other details about pharmacies in the Philippines you might find interesting, sometimes troublesome and sometimes amusing. I will share some of my experiences and knowledge acquired over the last seven years.

Pharmacies in the Philippines More Interested in Their Profits than your Cost?

I am not 100 percent sure of this but I saw some things that seem to point that way on my last visit.  I recently noticed that I was payingTwo Pretty Filipina at Downtown Cebu City about P2500 for Zantac or about $60 USD. That is too much. I sent Jessie a text message a couple of months ago, asking her if it was that high in the past but she did not remember. So I cut back on my dose to one a day. Sometimes resulting in pain in my gall bladder. Doctor can’t find anything wrong with it though. I will spew hot burning acid in my sleep sometimes if I do not take it and it is best if I take it twice a day.

This month though, I guess they were out of the brand name so I got Raxide without asking. I did add at the top of my list of medications, “Generic were possible.” That was a lot cheaper. So I changed the list I take to the Pharmacy to Raxide for the future and went back to prescribed dose. That should save me some money.  Less than half the cost or Zantac.

Something else I noticed on my last trip to the Rose Pharmacy on Colon Street, well one of them. There are three close together. I asked for “Fish oil” last month and they were out of what I normally got and suggested Squalene – S.  Seemed to be about the same price but that was in error. Same price for half the dosage. So the price was really double.

This time I put on my list “Omega 3” instead of fish oil on my list. Once again they told me they were out and only had the Squalene. More expensive and comes from deep water shark livers off the coast of Japan. I am sure they are killing the sharks to extract it. Many sharks are now endangered and though I am inclined to be happy about that, I know it really is a bad thing. They need to be in the ocean, I do not need to be in the ocean haha. I really do not wish to contribute to what I consider bad behavior. Like killing endangered species.

I told them no, I would find it someplace else. The branch I go to will check with the other nearby Rose Pharmacies to see if they have it and will go get it for me. That is superb customer service. The other one near there does not do that for me. It is air conditioned but when I went there two times my cost seemed to be even higher. The techs where also not as proficient so back to the hot and old one that does that for me.

Both times they told me they were out of Omega 3 as where the other two nearby branches. I told them I would find it someplace else. They must have wanted to push this new fish liver oil because to my surprise when I got home, I found that they did sell me Omega 3 haha. Not the same brand I usually get. That is just fine with me. I would like to give them the benefit of the doubt but I cannot do so. I am pretty sure they were trying to push the more expensive choice on me.

 Cost of Medication in the Philippines

Prescription Medication in the PhilippinesOne of my biggest fears when Jessie and I split up a few months ago, was dealing with my medications. I was afraid of being overcharged. The first month went well but after that it seems my cost did go way up after that. Jessie told me she usually paid close to P10,000 about a year ago. I am paying P15000 to P20000 a month. I think I am probably keeping closer watch on the cost than she did. I am not sure but that is my nature so it was probably costing more then. Some things have gone up and my dosage has gone up on some things too.

Last month my blood sugar went way up because I stopped taking Actos. It is right around P4000 or close to $100 USD. Just too much for my budget. I told my doctor and he found something to replace with it about half the cost. I am feeling much better after being on it for almost two weeks now. I just took my blood sugar for the first time since the change and it is much better. I was running over 300 much of last month which is horrible. My skin burns and I get weak when my blood sugar is high. I also get yeast infections here and there. Now it is 166 and it has been four hours since I last ate. I am below 180 which is what the doctor wants me to shoot for. While 120 is normal for the high end that is something difficult for me to reach now.  Also, I ate a large pizza last night so that blood sugar result is very much improved.

I should ask Jhen (my girlfriend) to get them for me one month. She wanted to this month but I do not want to depend on someone else for this again and she does not know my medications well. Usually there are choices that need to be made and I like to make those choices myself. Still, I need to find out if they cost goes down. If I send her with my printed out list of medications, they are going to know I sent her so I’ll have to test this with her writing it down.

Generally, generics will cost much less in the Philippines than the USA and probably any other Western nation where you do not get them free. Brand name prescription medication will cost you about the same here and usually a little bit more but the price was so close it was not enough to call it more really. It will cost a little more to get them here, or so I would think.

No Prescription Required for Prescription Medications?

That is not always the case. Jhen went to get me some antibiotics last month, well she tried too. She went to three different pharmacies.Pharmacies in the Philippines All three said she had to have a prescription for that. I gave her my prescription for a different type, that they always give back to me after filling and she was able to buy that for me. However, a week later I was still sick so I went to one of the same Pharmacies that would not sell it to her and they sold it to me, no problem. Perhaps it is because she is a young woman in prime child bearing years that could be harmful to any baby she could be carrying. I do not know why. I just know she could not get it and I could. Often I thought the Pharmacies where telling Jessie they were out of Xanax even though they had it. I do not know. I learned the best place to get that is at the hospital where the doctor writes it.

There are other medications that you must have a prescription for. Controlled drugs. People needing pain medications here have complained because they cannot get them. I have not needed those so I cannot say.

I know I cannot get a prescription for Xanax from just any doctor. In the Philippines, doctors have different licenses and a higher degree license is required for prescribing Xanax. When I tried to get an Rx in Bogo City, I was told the hospital emergency room could perhaps write one for me. That doctor told me it is unlikely any doctor outside the hospital could.

Do you have any experience in trying to get serious pain medication while in the Philippines? Did you go to a doctor in a hospital or just a clinic? I am not talking about NSAID’s like aspirin just controlled pain medications. Please let me know what you found. You can use the comments below.

I do know of someone with terminal cancer that could get morphine but there can be a real need for pain medication without being terminal.

Drug Packaging in the Philippines much Different from the USA

I do not like the way drugs are packaged here. They come in bubble wrap. After seven years, I still really hate it but it is a minor thing. In the USA, they come in bottles. I use to transfer them from the bubble wrap to my bottles but soon I realized why they are packaged the way they are.

Prescription Meds in the PhilippinesI do not remember which medication I opened up and found nothing but powder in the bottle. It may have been Xanax or maybe it was Zantac.  I was shocked, trying to figure out what happened to my meds. Then I realized what that powder was. There were only a few of them in the bottle and if I remember right, it took three weeks for that to happen. So now I leave them in those bubble wraps even though I do not like it.

They will melt in those bottles. I suppose dissolve is a better word. In the Philippines, the humidity is so high that you might open your bottle of medication to find a bottle full of pill dust. Some medications are more susceptible to that then others. I take so many that if I had to take them that way every day, I would lose track of what I had already taken. So I transfer them to a container shown in the picture. These are hard to find here and too small really. I will likely order something from Amazon soon. I found these at the National Book Store seven years ago. I lost many of them. No idea what happened to them. If you are in the same boat, I would bring one with me when I came. I’m going to order this one from Amazon soon.

It is not uncommon for the Pharmacy to be out of stock but I have much less problem with that here in Cebu City than I did in Bogo City. When Jessie bought for me here in the city though she often had to go to three of them to get everything. I have been able to get everything in one stop for the last three months. If you live in a more rural area, having an extra week or two at home is not a bad idea.

Customer Service at a Pharmacy in the Philippines

I am mostly happy with it but I get better than average from the Rose Pharmacy on Colon Street. The old one with no air conditioning. While I wait for my medications to be put together, they offer me a stool to sit on. They try to get the meds from nearby branches if they are out of anything. Recently though they irritated me pretty strongly.

There is a rebate card I will call it. You get points for purchased. Three months ago, I noticed that it appeared my point balance did not go up. So last month, I looked at the receipt and asked them if they added it to it. They told me no, that my card was defective and they could not apply the credits I had already earned either. I did not get credit the previous month. I should have had 500 peso on that card but there were only 300. They asked for my card so they could send it to be replaced. They told me to come back next week. I thought they told me they would add my purchased for that day to it but this time, a month later and still waiting on the card, I am told they cannot add the two months I did not get credit.

First they did not tell me, then they let me lose my credits for two months when they should have given me a new card. I did get a new one this time though so hopefully I am back on schedule with it. The credits for this month were P200. For a place that has been good to me, this is extraordinarily poor customer service. Part of it could be communication issues but I do not think much of it was.

Your Experiences with Getting your Medication in the Philippines

I would like to hear about your experiences with getting your medications in the Philippines. While the VA does not apply to me, many American expats depend on the VA for their medications. It might help them if you tell about the process. I know it is different for vets. And I am sure there have been different experiences for others here in the Philippines. I hope you will share them. Also, if you find this article helpful, please share it with on your social networks.

By Rusty Ferguson

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