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Prescription Medications and Pharmacies in Vietnam

By Joshua Wood, LPC

Mondly by Pearson
Mondly by Pearson

Summary: Acquaint yourself with the types of prescription drugs and pharmacy services in Vietnam in advance, so you're prepared when the need arises.

Prescription Medications and Pharmacies in Vietnam

Moving to a new country comes with its own set of challenges, and for expats and digital nomads considering Vietnam as their new home, understanding the healthcare landscape is crucial. This includes navigating the availability of prescription medications, which can differ significantly from what one might be accustomed to in their home country.

Pharmacies in Vietnam

In Vietnam, pharmacies are readily available and can be found in every city, town, and even in smaller communities. They range from small, family-run shops to larger chain pharmacies. Most medications that expats and digital nomads might need are available, but the availability of specific brands or formulations can vary. It's not uncommon to find generic versions of medications that are widely used internationally. Pharmacists in Vietnam are typically well-trained and can offer advice on a range of medical issues, but it's important to note that the language barrier might be an issue if you do not speak Vietnamese.

Purchasing Prescription Medications in Vietnam

When it comes to purchasing prescription medications, the process in Vietnam can be quite different from what many expats may be used to. In many cases, medications that would require a prescription in Western countries can be bought over the counter in Vietnam. However, for more controlled substances or specialized medications, a prescription from a local doctor may be necessary. It's advisable to bring a copy of your prescription from your home country, which can help pharmacists find the equivalent medication in Vietnam.

Are Prescriptions Needed in Vietnam?

While many medications can be purchased without a prescription in Vietnam, there are still regulations in place for certain drugs, especially those that are considered narcotics or psychotropics. For these types of medications, you will definitely need a prescription from a licensed healthcare provider in Vietnam. It's also worth noting that the enforcement of prescription requirements can be inconsistent, and while one pharmacy may dispense medication without a prescription, another may adhere strictly to the rules.

Cost of Prescription Medications in Vietnam

Generally, prescription medications in Vietnam are less expensive than in many Western countries. This is partly due to the lower cost of living and the availability of generic drugs. However, expats should be aware that some imported medications or specific brands can be quite costly. It's also important to consider that while the cost of medication may be lower, so might the quality control standards. Therefore, it's crucial to purchase medications from reputable pharmacies to ensure safety and efficacy.

Important Considerations for Expats and Digital Nomads

Expats and digital nomads in Vietnam should take several important factors into account regarding prescription medications. It's advisable to have comprehensive health insurance that covers medications, and to check if your specific medication is legally available in Vietnam. Additionally, it's important to be cautious of counterfeit drugs, which can be a problem in less reputable establishments. Always check the expiration date and packaging of medications, and when in doubt, seek advice from a medical professional. Lastly, consider bringing a sufficient supply of any critical medications with you, as finding the exact brand or formulation might be challenging.

Understanding the nuances of the pharmaceutical landscape is key for expats and digital nomads in Vietnam. By being informed and taking the necessary precautions, you can ensure that your health needs are met while enjoying the vibrant culture and lifestyle that Vietnam has to offer.

Expats Talk About Prescriptions in Vietnam

"Perscription medicines are easily available here at the local pharmacies. I did not need a script for my thyroid condition," commented one expat living in Da Nang, Vietnam.

"Medicine is available over the counter. I have a good pharmacy I go to but, you need to ask around about pharmacy's because, not all medicine is real or unexpired. I have for example, purchased ibuprofen that simply did not work," mentioned one expat living in Vietnam.

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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