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Pharmacy, Medicines, Drugs, Prescriptions?

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Can someone please tell me how medicine is procured in Panama.  For example, we have been living in SE Asia for over a year and we have been able to get all of our meds over-the-counter, in pharmacies.  We take GERD, Cholesterol, Asthma meds for example.  Do you we need to visit a doctor to get a prescription? Or, do they sell these over-the-counter?  

Thank you for your help. 

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My experience has been that purchasing prescriptions in Panama is a lot easier and less paperwork than in the USA. There are "controlled" drugs (narcotics, for example) that do require written prescriptions by a doctor, but that list is much smaller than in the USA.

Most, of my prescription drugs do not require a written prescription. I just walk into a farmacia with the name or empty bottle and they ask how much I want to purchase, and end of story. Frequently the US name is different from the the international or generic name, but they are generally able to look things up in a book (or already know from experience) what the local name is.

Lots of words here, but most everything is over-the-counter.

Do be careful because sometimes the strength (potency) will be different, and so you may need to do some math. For instance, if you are to take 50mg of XYZ, but the locally available version of XYZ may be 25mg, meaning you take two of them. Sometimes the locally available could be 100mg, meaning taking 1/2 of a pill.

Bottom line is that I suspect your experience here in Panama would be similar to what you currently experience in SE Asia, other than the slower service.

Your mileage may vary.

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The GERD and cholesterol stuff is OTC ( over the counter). Dont know about the asthma stuff, but no reason why it should not be the same.  Maybe a good idea to make one visit to a doctor, explain what you need and the strength, use his prescription for the first set of pills then just go back with the packages for subsequent needs.


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When I first came to Panama in 2003, almost all medicines other than heavy duty pain killers were OTC. Now antibiotics are controlled (as well they should be) and also I recently got a prescription from Dr. Gomez for some very mild sleeping pills. I darn near had to sign my life away to get the script filled. Show ID, sign the prescription as received, and leave the prescription at the pharmacy.

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  • Moderator_02 changed the title to Pharmacy, Medicines, Drugs, Prescriptions?
  • Moderators

Be advised that several postings in this topic were split off into a new topic. The general theme of those postings were still related to prescription medicines, but they specifically were addressing the importation of those items, and the paperwork problems and delays caused by various agencies.

Here is a link to that new topic:


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