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Pharmacies

I'm having trouble finding out if a medication I take will be available in China. Has anyone had experience with obtaining their medications while in China? What did you do to get your medications? I'm trying to find a solution but I'm coming up blank.

Go into one of the chain-pharmacies. They all are part of a cross-check computer system.

[1] Write the medicine that you need down on a slip of paper. 

[2] Hand it to one of the girls or workers in the pharmacy.

[3] They will log it in their computer data base.  They will come up with the brands or versions that they have in stock, as well as their domestic equivalents.

[4] The worker will then go and get the boxes of medicine and hold it out for you to see.  They will show you a Western version and the Chinese equivalent. You pick the one you want.  Typically the Chinese domestic versions are around 10% the price of Western medicines.

[5] They, probably won't speak English, so they will use the calculator to show you the price. They will type the amount in the calculator and hold it up to your eyes at eye-level to show you the cost you will need to pay.  There are no taxes that you will need to pay.  Like all things in China, what you see is what you get.

[6] You pay them.

That's about it.  Most common pharmacies will have about 90% of the medicines that you are looking for.  If they don't, what you need is a specialized medicine usually reserved for people who are undergoing surgery in a hospital.  You will need to go to a hospital and use the pharmacy there, or nearby (next door typically). This will include such things as special medicines for brain or heart surgery, cancer treatments, and similar activities.

You will not need a prescription.  There are no police registrations, or reporting requirements like there is in the United States.  Medical drugs are not policed like they are in the United States.  The Communist government trust their people.

If you have trouble, ask one of your Chinese friends to go into the store with you and they can help you out.  In general, for most typical ailments, I would recommend domestic medications.  They are identical to the Western formulations, but Chinese law prohibits price-gouging of medicines that is permitted in the West.  Further, medicines "for the people" are subsidized.

I hope this helps.

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