Medication in Ecuador

Good morning everyone,

Whether it's a simple cold or a chronic illness, medication and medicine use vary from country to country and culture to culture.

When you are used to certain brands or types of drugs, being in a country like Ecuador with different rules can affect your daily well-being.

Some drugs also differ in name, price, dosage, active molecule, so we would like to hear your opinion on these issues:

Have you ever had difficulties finding familiar or useful medicines for your health in your host country?

Have you ever been faced with a shortage of medicines in Ecuador?

Would you have said that in Ecuador drugs are more or less expensive than in your home country? Do you find them more or less effective or of similar quality?

What is the place of alternative medicines in your host country? Have you ever used them?

Thank you in advance for your feedback,


I am watching for answers to these questions.   So far I have not been out of the Us for over 2 1/2 months, so always take a three month supply. But I need to know what to do if I want to really move there.

I've been here three years and thus far there are only two drugs I've needed that I haven't been able to find:

1. Calcium carbonate antacid (same active ingredient as TUMS).  Matter of fact, I have not been able to find an antacid here that is JUST an antacid.

2. Pseudoephedrine (been taking for ~20 years for eustachian tube dysfunction).

However, my biggest fear is needing pain relief and not being able to get it (...though I hear that's a problem in the US now as well).

In 2019 I was in Vilcabamba for a few weeks. I was at the coast before that and I had caught diarrhea (Gringo guts). Well, time passed quickly and my insurance ran out. I went to the pharmacy and asked for lomotil, or immodium, or kaopectate. None of that was available. They didn't even have Pepto Bismol. I asked what they had for  "diarrhea" ("las mierdas," "las cagadas" I was finally reduced to standing at the counter and shouting!) The clerk offered a five week course of pro-biotics = $45 which was NOT what I needed.

Let me tell you, a red-faced Gringo standing at a counter, shouting, "las mierdas," "las cagadas" does not endear you to the local mestizos.

A better solution would have been to go to the hospital in Loja, or to find a local doctor. A licensed professional would have been better able to access whatever drugs I needed.

Emigrayo68 (Buster)

I am so sorry, but I burst out laughing at the image!   What a terrible sense of humor I have.

By my age (68) chronic problems have arrived. I've been checking at Ecuadorean institutions that give care, and my newer "designer" drugs that I've been taking in the U.S. may not be available in Ecuador. That's the bad news.  However, some older generics are available, and since the gov't health services buys these in bulk, they get them much cheaper. I've bought generic aspirin, ibuprophen, and acetaminophen at the discount stores for years and they seem to work just fine. My HMO also gets many generics and purveys them at a cut rate price. So, I'm thinking there's some good news here in Ecuador = competent medical care and reduced cost.


Fybeca, a national pharmacy chain, has a good search tool for medicines. Search for the generic name in Spanish to find out if it is available.


Thanks for the Fybeca tip. I'll check that out. Although this closing the borders thing is throwing a wrench into the engine.

Emigrayo68 (Buster)

Does anyone take a biologic like Humira?? Can you get it and how much does it cost? website lists Humira's name as adalimumab (generic, I think). On that site it's mentioned with Ecuador. I checked a couple of pharmacies' drug lists, but no luck.

Bahia is mentioned by your name, so I checked Manta and rheumatologists. Maybe if you messaged, they could say if the drug is available.

Dr. Byron Chanatasig in Manta.

Dr. Jorge E. Manzo-Villavicencio in Portoviejo.

These may not be helpful leads, but I wish you good luck anyway.

Emigrayo68 (Buster)

In Ecuador the locals use a lot of herbs for treating many things, or making teas, etc.  Instead of looking for drugs how about asking around and finding some of the many local people knowledgeable about herbs?  I am sure there must be some for diarrhea.

Thank you, I appreciate the help.

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