I keep my vitamins and the one prescription drug I take each day in the kitchen of my house. Three trips in the last year, including my current trip, I have forgotten them.
One time I was only gone for a few days and just skipped the pills. Another time, I was gone longer and had to find a doctor in Germany to write me a prescription so I could get what I needed from the pharmacy.
When I discovered I left my pills at home for this trip, I thought I’d be back on Thursday and get by without them. But with the trip extended another week, I needed a solution.
Hamad International Airport in Doha has medical facilities and a pharmacy. I figured I’d take care of the problem there during my layover. Before going to the medical clinic, I visited the pharmacy and asked if they had my pills.
Turns out a visit to the doctor’s office was not even necessary. Not only were they in stock, but the pharmacist just handed me a box of them. I paid with credit card and was on my way. The pills were even cheaper than in the USA or Germany!
We don’t have any pharmacists in our family, so I don’t know how/why some drugs are over-the-counter in some countries and prescription-only in others. While I know that prescription drugs are regulated differently in different countries, I was (pleasantly) surprised at how easy it was to solve my issue in Doha.
You can also arbitrage dog medication this way
Was it Viagra?
I liked the fact that since ¨you don’t have any pharmacists in your family, so you know how/why some drugs are over-the-counter in some countries and prescription-only in others¨.
Family… that good ol´ source of information pre-google… 🙂
Good to know that the pharmacy was able to assist. Very helpful post.
Many medications in the US are prescription-only just so that doctors can charge you for an office visit. Birth control pills are the textbook case. Some states are finally beginning to change this. For instance, in California you can now get the pharmacist to write the prescription. Expect the same thing to happen with Viagra when generic versions become available.
I don’t think it’s a prescription drug here and OTC drug here so much as prescription requirements aren’t necessarily enforced in some parts of the world. I’ve gotten prescription drugs in India several times. Pretty much every single time, either a family member or friend will ask the pharmacist if they have what I need, ask them for a 3 or 6 month supply – and they just hand them over. Maybe Qatar is the same way.
Bit funny. Because the pharmaceutical mafia in the US has managed to get most of the local population on some form of excessively priced prescription drugs does not mean that in other parts of the world one cannot walk in and just buy what may be needed.
The rest of the world is not using drugs so excessively.
That’s one of the benefits of Southeast Asian travel. On a very extended trip through Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia I got terrible flu with fever, cold sweats and stomach cramps. Much more than just “drinking the water.” My guide took a side trip and bought me a 20 dose box of Cipro for $5.00. I was 100% within just a few days.
Another time in Bangkok I picked up a bad cough and still had several weeks of traveling ahead of me. The front desk at the InterContinental mapped out direction to a pharmacy within walking dustance inside the close-by mall where I bought 2 large bottles of very potent cough syrup for about $8.00 each. I have no idea what it was, but it worked.
It’s great when you’re far from home and everything works out.
It is like that in Spain and Greece where no prescriptions are necessary.
Qatar is pretty good about pharmacies (As is the whole Middle East) even with some pharmacies open 24/7. And most of their stuff works out really well and they are very friendly as well.
The irony that these countries have strict laws on not bringing any medication into the country with you yet will happily sell it to you over the counter without a prescription!
Pharmacies in Thailand are nearly 100% DIY. There are only few legal reqs like scripts for opiates/ benzos – but in practice even those are marginally adhered to. The pharmacist wont even bat an eye for things like anabolic steroids which are scheduled in the US.
When folks in Southern California need subscriptions, they can just go to Tijauna!
I myself have heard that the pharmacies in Kuwait are renowned.
It’s true that in the ME they are super strict about what you bring in but amazingly lax about what they will hand over to you in a pharmacy – no questions asked. These days I simply take every kind of pill (even ibuprofen) out of my toiletry bag and just get whatever I need out there.
And SEA is also a place where few questions are asked. If you can pay for it they will hand it to you. Top of the tree in this respect is Cambodia. I remember passing by a small kiosk (not a pharmacy even) and asking for some aspirin. The guy handed me a box of Ambien. And at the famous Pharmacie de la Gare in Phnom Penh you can get literally anything, and I mean anything!