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How to find prices of prescription drugs in Ecuador

I'M TRYING TO PUT TOGETHER A MONTHLY BUDGET FOR LIVING DOWN THERE.

I TAKE SEVERAL PRESCRIPTION MEDICATIONS (none controlled).  I AM TRYING TO GET PRICE ESTIMATES FOR EACH AND SEEM TO BE HITTING DEAD ENDS ON'LINE. WE WILL NOT BE BACK DOWN THERE FOR MANY MONTHS BUT ARE WORKING WITH OUR FINANCIAL GUY TO PLAN AND I REALLY NEED A MONTHLY BUDGET. 
HERE, MY MONTHLY PRESCRIPTION COPAYS COSTS ARE APPROX $400 A MONTH. SO ANYTHING LESS THAN THAT WOULD BE GREAT!
I'D APPRECIATE ANY ASSISTANCE ANYONE COULD PROVIDE.

I'm interested also

All caps is not necessary, it's like shouting.

Here's a list of prices of some 5,000+ medicinal drugs for Ecuador, for 2017.  Scroll down to about the middle of the page and under where it says
LISTA DE PRECIOS MEDICAMENTOS EN ECUADOR
Then just click on the image of the PDF and you can then display and search it, or download it just like any PDF.

http://sinmiedosec.com/lista-nuevos-pre … n-ecuador/

Two columns on the left are for the commercial name, and the generic name or active principle.

The Presentación Comercial column tells you how it's packaged.

The Unidad Por Presentación column tells you how many units are in the package/formulation.

The P.V.P. (Precio de Venta al Público) Presentación is the retail price for the package/formulation.

The P.V.P. Unitario column is the retail price for one unit.

I just checked out the list, and it's just a portion of the meds that can be found at pharmacies in Ecuador.

Price and availability of pharmaceuticals vary from pharmacy to pharmacy. I have found that most medications are less expensive in the smaller towns than in the cities. Also know that while a medicine might be available over the counter in one place, it might not be in another - especially in Quito.  Also, for "controlled" medications, there are usually private doctors who will come to town once a month, and they can prescribe them for you.

Also, know that most Ecuadorian doctors will sit and talk to you for anywhere from 20-30 minutes during an appointment. In other words, being a doctor Ecuador is still a "service", rather than a business like it is in other places in the world.

Finally, if you are planning a trip, be aware that tourists must come with travel insurance now.

This morning when I clicked on the PDF download, it took me to a "Error 404 -- Page not available". When I returned to the original link and reloaded the page, the download link was no longer there. Does anyone know what is going on and whether there is another way to access the information?

I just tried it, and it worked. It is an incomplete list, and I would suggest you get on the Facebook Expats in Ecuador page, and ask about the particular meds. When I first moved to Ecuador, that is where I got most of my answers.

Here is the link:

http://sinmiedosec.com/lista-nuevos-pre … n-ecuador/

In cuenca and in Quito there are pharmacies called Fybeca,,, you can go to their site on line and look up the prices of your drugs...

Yes, but quite often, their list isn't updated. The best luck I have had in finding a medicine, and at the most reasonable price, is to ask in smaller towns if they have a medicine.

Samara, the best way to get what you need at a minimal cost is to join the government health system, IESS. The medications are free. However, there are some medications that do not exist. For instance, I have a genetic issue that prevents me from getting enough potassium, but I have yet to find the medicine I need for this...however, other than that, meds are pretty inexpensive. Using Fybeca is likely the most expensive way to get meds. Also, in most places, most meds do not require a prescription, but in Quito, for some reason, prescriptions are necessary.

I hope some of this helps.

1iguanab1 :

Yes, but quite often, (the Fybeca) list isn't updated. The best luck I have had in finding a medicine, and at the most reasonable price, is to ask in smaller towns if they have a medicine.

Many times, in Quito, when a particular branch of this pharmaceutical chain did not have specific medicine(s) in stock, I have had one of the on-duty pharmacists check via computer to see which Fybeca branch(es) in the city had the meds I needed.

The pharmacist is typically able to tell me a store and its address .. and even the exact number of pills on hand at the stocked sucursal.

cccmedia

Another method is to call the toll-free number, (1) 800-FYBECA.  In my experience in Quito, pills can be delivered to one's casa at a convenient hour .. upon request.

cccmedia

1iguanab1 :

in most places, most meds do not require a prescription, but in Quito, for some reason, prescriptions are necessary.

I have plenty of experience in buying meds in Quito .. and the above assertion that prescriptions are necessary in the capital is a distortion of the facts.

Mind-bending drugs classified as estupefacientes y psicotrópicos do require a receta especial (special prescription) from a specialist doctor -- and perhaps these are what Iguana was looking for.  This class of drugs includes certain sleeping pills and mood-enhancing meds.

However, in Quito, most meds are sold over the counter without a prescription needed.

cccmedia

1iguanab1 :

Samara, the best way to get what you need at a minimal cost is to join the government health system, IESS. The medications are free. However, there are some medications that do not exist. For instance, I have a genetic issue that prevents me from getting enough potassium, but I have yet to find the medicine I need for this.

Expats who prefer convenience over product cost-savings may be entering a world of hurt if they follow the well-meaning advice to join IESS in order to get free meds.

Here are some reasons why...

1.  Joining IESS requires Spanish-language skills .. or a friend/helper who can do the on-line registration for you.  The meds are free when available, but joining IESS is not.

2.  For free meds, it's not a quick fix.  There has historically been a waiting period of several months to be seen the first time and for specialists .. then an appointment with a doctor must be arranged, sometimes with delays.  It's not like you can just walk into an IESS pharmacy and get your pills without a lot of waiting time to see a government-associated doctor .. or, perhaps, an IESS specialist as well.

3.  An IESS hospital may not have what you need.  This could be due to employee pilfering (read up on the IESS's troubled history if you wish).  Or the hospital could just be out of stock in your meds.

4.  Under new rules approved for IESS premiums, though not yet implemented, the cost of IESS coverage for Expats with good pensions or non-pension income may skyrocket.  Supposedly, the government will implement sliding-scale premiums based on income, although there is some sentiment that implementation of the higher rates will be (next to) impossible.

----

Full disclosure:  I am a member of IESS in Ecuador and expect I will continue to be so .. until and unless the government requires me to pay a higher monthly premium I consider to be gouging.   Like many Expat members of IESS healthcare, I keep it as a backup in case of unexpected major medical needs .. and I see doctors and buy my meds from non-government pharmacies for convenience.  When I want to see a doctor, I can choose any physician (not necessarily possible under the IESS system) and make a time-convenient appointment just by calling his or her office.  Thus, I avoid the cumbersome bureaucracy involved in being an IESS patient.

cccmedia

Sorry, I was apparently misinformed regarding purchasing meds in Quito. My bad, and thanks, CC Media, for the correction. I live in the farthest southern part of the country, and a friend had a problem buying something there. I wonder: is it possible to but injectable pain killers like Voltren or Ketorlaco over the counter in Quito? Neither of these are a controlled substance. Ketorlaco is an incredibly strong NSAID as is Volteren. Being able to give oneself injections for long term pain is a great help when living far from a major city.

Hello, I just saw your post.
I don't know of any particular list in Ecuador, like GoodRx in the US.  All I can offer is an example.  I use a medicine that I've paid  from $225 to $400 for in the US for a one month supply.  In Ecuador I pay $74 to $76 for the equivalent.
Good luck.

CC Media, I have heard pretty terrible stories about the IESS situation in Quito. Recently, a friend of mine hurt her arm, and the doctors put her arm in a sling but never told her what the problem was with her arm. As for me, IESS has been a good deal. I have two doctors who don't ask me to make appointments anymore. They tell me the days they will be on duty, and I can just show up and see them.

The new rules are still being hammered out, but for people who are on diploma, CD or property visas the cost is only about $68/month. I have been hospitalized at the IESS hospital in Loja for a back injury and for pneumonia, and both times I received great care. If a person has a problem, there is a social worker who is always available to help the patients if there is a problem. I especially like the fact that many of the IESS doctors have been trained in Cuba, as Cuba is famous for their well-trained medical practitioners. One of my favorite Cuban IESS doctors was taken in by the now-defunct US  Cuban Medical Professionals Parole Program and is working in Miami. Some students in the US have gone to Cuba for their training as medical school in Cuba is tuition-free as are room and board.

You mentioned signing up online, but a person in Loja can go and sign up at the IESS office, but I do have a friend makes all of her doctors' appointments on the IESS wenpage. Luckily, I am fluent in Spanish, and for anyone planning on moving to Loja, learning at least some survival Spanish is a good idea. Ecuadorians are proud of their language and rightfully so. Too many people move to South American countries and expect the culture to bend at their will - and that isn't the South American way, thankfully.

As for having backup care, I can understand if dealing with IESS in Quito is so difficult, but in both Loja and Cuenca, the service is quite acceptable, and I have no intention to deal with any of the new "expat" private insurance companies.

Dear Iguana,

Please contact Fybeca or other source of strong meds in Quito to learn about availability.

I am unfamiliar with the latest pharmaceuticals that you mentioned.

cccmedia

1iguanab1 :

CC Media, I have heard pretty terrible stories about the IESS situation in Quito. Recently, a friend of mine hurt her arm, and the doctors put her arm in a sling but never told her what the problem was with her arm. As for me, IESS has been a good deal. I have two doctors who don't ask me to make appointments anymore. They tell me the days they will be on duty, and I can just show up and see them...

I have been hospitalized at the IESS hospital in Loja for a back injury and for pneumonia, and both times I received great care. If a person has a problem, there is a social worker who is always available to help the patients if there is a problem. I especially like the fact that many of the IESS doctors have been trained in Cuba, as Cuba is famous for their well-trained medical practitioners.

Dear Iguana,

It's good to learn that IESS Loja has been providing good health care service.

For whatever reason, Expats have rarely commented in the popular online forums on IESS care in Quito.  There are several IESS hospitals/clinics in the capital.  I suspect that service varies from facility to facility .. and doctor to doctor.

Guayaquil's biggest IESS hospital was the subject of media reports about two years ago as particularly egregious.  One of many reasons for Expats to avoid moving to the Big G.

cccmedia

ccmedia, I'm laughing. I wouldn't live in Guayaquil for all of the tea in China!

Yes, it would make sense that service would be different in different parts of the country. 

SamaraNP, I hope we've helped you a little bit regarding your concern about medication availability and cost. Also, Fybeca pharmacies are located in most of the major towns in Ecuador. But again, getting your meds, if you are not on IESS, is generally cheaper if you buy them in smaller towns. You do have to wait a day or two for the medicine to arrive, but the smaller pharmacies give nice discounts in order to keep locals from going into the larger towns to get their medications.

By the way, where are you thinking of living? Because of the nature of Ecuador's many varieties of altitude and geographical issues, temperatures can vary widely. For example, where I live, the average temperature in the winter months is 72F/22C with beautiful weather. However, only 25ms/40kms away, the average temperature is 61F/16C, and it rains constantly. I suggest you make a trip just to check the areas you think you might want to live. Also, remember that upon arriving in Ecuador, you must have a traveler's health insurance policy.

Good luck!

1iguanab1 :

upon arriving in Ecuador, you must have a traveler's health insurance policy.

There's nothing wrong with having travelers health insurance upon arrival, but it's only required if you extend past the 90 days granted on the customary tourist permit stamped into your passport at an Ecuadorian airport.

Source: the long-established Cuenca-based website of Gringo Tree, which e-published a good synopsis of key parts of the 2017 immigration law that contains the health-insurance requirements.

Google:  gringotree.com new ecuadorian immigration law

If a visitor to Ecuador remains in the country, for instance by extending tourist status through a 90-day non-immigrant extension, the new law requires that he or she obtain health insurance. 

  -- cccmedia

Back to the original topic, which was .. uh .. oh yes .. getting meds in Ecuador.

In Quito about a year ago, all the pharmacies (I visited at least a dozen at that time) were out of a prescription drug I was seeking.  Except for one droguería, which only had about 15 pills left.  My receta especial  for 100 pills was expiring in two days and the meds could not be brought into town before expiration. 

A pharmacist near MegaMaxi Six sold me the 15 pills and also told me this: 

Next time you need this hard-to-get med, notify us a week ahead of time.  That way, before you bring in the receta, we'll order the product and have it on hand when you come in again.

FYI, in Ecuador the doctor-issued recetas are usually only good for 72 hours.

cccmedia

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