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Prescriptions and MedicationsBack to top Back to main Skip to menu
Thailand - Prescriptions and Medications
In Thailand it is not always necessary to have a prescription and there is a wide variety of medications which are only available on prescription in the UK and the US which you can simply purchase over the counter there. You may find that there is not always a qualified pharmacist on the premises, although it is a legal requirement for a qualified pharmacist to be employed in the store. Generally you may only deal with sales people.
If you are in a hospital and referred to the hospital pharmacy you are not normally given a written prescription, but the doctor will just write down what you need on a scrap of paper. However, it should be noted that charges are usually higher at hospital pharmacies than they are at an independent store. It is common for hospital pharmacies to provide only brand name medications but at external pharmacies you can get a cheaper generic alternative. It is also common for pharmacists at a hospital pharmacy to spend more time with the patient, ensuring that they understand the medication and that there will be no interactions with other drugs. In many high street pharmacies the pharmacist may not ask these kinds of questions.
It is common for Thai people to make the pharmacy their first port of call if they are feeling unwell as it is possible to get basic medical advice from a pharmacist and as prescriptions are not necessary for many medications, seeing a doctor is often considered to be unnecessary.
Medications such as anti-depressants and antibiotics are readily available over the counter, although there is an increasing number of pharmacists who are reluctant to provide other drugs such as sedatives without a written prescription.
There are a number of outlets that look as though they are official pharmacies but they do sell ‘under the counter’ recreational drugs and restricted medications. These are generally found in areas that are rougher and should be avoided if you are genuinely looking for medication, as there is rarely a qualified pharmacist there and you would not be able to get medical advice.
Some of the larger pharmacies offer competitive prices and there are those which claim to sell at wholesale prices and some certainly are cheaper than others. Prescriptions need to be paid for at the time of collection, although those who have private medical insurance may be able to get these costs refunded.
Most pharmacies in Thailand have a similar look. They are usually glass fronted buildings and have glass counters in the store and glass cabinets on the walls. The pharmacy sign used in Thailand is white with a green cross and green lettering, which is similar to that used in the UK. In busy areas pharmacies are usually open from 10 am to 9 pm, although in quieter suburban areas some will close around 5 pm or 6 pm. These are the hours from Monday to Friday. Saturday opening hours are generally the same although on Sundays hours are shorter. In some areas the pharmacy will only open on a Sunday to provide emergency cover. In rural areas the pharmacies will be few and far between and will also have limited opening hours.
Many pharmacists do speak English and those that do not have strong English language skills will be able to read the English names of the drugs that you need. It is common for drugs to be marketed under a different name in Thailand but pharmacists do have the facility to check the name of any medication and find the product name for Thailand. They can also advise on generic medications.
In Thai the name for a pharmacy is ‘rong khai ya’, which translates as ‘place to sell medicine’.
South East Pharmacy
Tel: + 66 2889 5188
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