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Pharmacies and Medications in Panama

By Joshua Wood, LPC

Allianz Care
Allianz Care

Summary: Develop a basic understanding of prescription medication procedures and pharmacies before you need them in Panama.

Pharmacies and Medications in Panama

Moving to a new country comes with its own set of challenges, and for expats and digital nomads considering Panama as their new home, understanding the healthcare landscape is crucial. This includes knowing how to access prescription medications, which is a key aspect of maintaining one's health and well-being while living abroad.

Pharmacies in Panama

In Panama, pharmacies, known locally as 'farmacias', are the primary outlets for purchasing prescription medications. They are widely available throughout the country, including in shopping malls, hospitals, and standalone stores. Many pharmacies in Panama are well-stocked with a variety of medications, and some of the larger chains even offer 24-hour service. Pharmacists in Panama are typically well-trained and can provide advice on over-the-counter medications as well as dispense prescription drugs.

Prescription Requirements in Panama

When it comes to prescription medications in Panama, the rules can be quite different from those in North America or Europe. For many medications that would require a prescription elsewhere, in Panama, they can often be purchased over the counter. However, for stronger medications, including antibiotics and narcotics, a prescription from a licensed physician in Panama is required. It's important for expats and digital nomads to have their medical records or prescriptions from their home country translated into Spanish to facilitate the process with local doctors.

Cost of Prescription Medications in Panama

One of the benefits of living in Panama is that prescription medications are generally less expensive than in many Western countries. This is partly due to the fact that generic drugs are more widely accepted and utilized. However, prices can vary depending on the pharmacy and whether the medication is a brand name or generic. Expats and digital nomads should also be aware that some specialized medications may not be as readily available, and in such cases, they might be more expensive or require a trip to a larger city or hospital pharmacy.

Other Considerations for Medications in Panama

Expats and digital nomads in Panama should consider a few additional points regarding medications. It's advisable to have health insurance that covers prescription medications, as this can alleviate some of the costs associated with ongoing medical needs. Additionally, it's important to check the legality of certain medications in Panama, as some drugs that are legal and commonly prescribed in other countries may be controlled or prohibited. Lastly, always ensure that you have enough supply of your medication, as it might take time to find a local doctor or to get a prescription filled.

Staying Informed About Medications in Panama

For those moving to or currently living in Panama, staying informed about the local healthcare system and pharmacy practices is essential. It's recommended to connect with other expats and digital nomads who have experience navigating the Panamanian healthcare system. Online forums and local expat communities can be invaluable resources for sharing information and tips about accessing prescription medications in Panama. Additionally, building a relationship with a local healthcare provider can help ensure that you have access to the medications you need while living in this vibrant country.

Expats Talk About Prescriptions in Panama

"I need many prescriptions, we have not needed refills yet, and have some waiting for us in the US. I intend to make a list of prescriptions and show it to Dr. Levy and find out what is available here in Coronado and what I need to go elsewhere to find," commented one expat living in Coronado, Panama.

"No the only pain Meds are Tylenol or OxyContin. Only pain specialists can prescribe. Some cardiac Meds are not available and you must mail order them (if this is part of your prescription plan.)," mentioned one expat living in Panama.

"Many common prescriptions are available over the counter just by talking to the pharmacist," said an expat in Panama.

About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.


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