Medication in Indonesia

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 Indonesia 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 Indonesia?

Would you have said that in Indonesia 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 a little disappointed with the medicines in Indonesia. Very often we are given local medicines that don't work as well as some of the better foreign medicines. They might have the same basic ingredients but they sometimes don't work as well.

Also for some medicines I will purchase from Malaysia where they are easily available.

However, at the moment, one of our doctor friends has advised us to stay away from hospitals and pharmacies due to the potential of Covid-19. That means that certain important medicines become even more inaccessible without certain risks.

There are many trustworthy outlets where non-prescription medication is available cheaply, but you must never buy from dodgy looking places or, in my opinion, mail order.
There's a notable fake drugs industry so a little care is a good move.

Generic medicines in Indonesia are super expensive, not just that high probability of being counterfiet as Indonesia is notorious for selling counterfiet drugs.

Alternate medicines like; Ayurveda & Homeopathy are a preferred alternate medicines quite popular in India. I have used homeopathy which is highly effective for treating an ailment right from the root cause, one example is hypo-thyroid which is totally curable with homeopathy where as allopathic medicine system makes you a slave of external means to keep it in check for the patients entire lifetime.

In Indonesia, I see the medicine and lab tests are really really very expensive. My wife went through so many lab tests by the way. Here the charges for contrast Thorax is 6 million that's five times higher than my Home country India. Rest others are at the same rate. Shocked while treated in Indonesia.

the sad thing is that in Indonesia almost every doctor's visit
always the prescribed antibiotics,
Doctors receive bonus for prescribing the pharmacy factories :(

A note for posters.
When you visit a doctor or hospital and get a prescription, go to an independent but well known, reliable pharmacy to buy your medication, not the hospital or doctor's own place.
There's a better than average chance you'd get the same stuff but pay a lot less for it.

Medicines here very expensive and also doc fees compare to in my country, India. i am having hypertension problem. The cost of medicine for one month here, if i buy the same from India, I can use for 12 months.

The biggest problem in this country is you are not allowed to have sent here from overseas any medicines, creams, moisterisers etc especially MEDICINE! I have a prescription in UK for medicine that I require, and due to my age it costs me nothing, it's free with the NHS. If I try to send here it will get confiscated. I think its disgusting that this country should consider doing this.
If I was to buy the same medicine here it would probably cost me a couple of million rupiah every month.
I have to get in the back door. Which is not convenient but it works.

I guess that's one of the negatives about living in a place like Indonesia. A lot else here is a lot cheaper than back in the UK but medical care is not. One of my few positives about moving back to the UK is free healthcare including prescription medicine. But at least you've found a way of getting in the back door.

Thanks Shill88,
Was your photo taken in Japan? It looks familiar.

I take high blood pressure medication.

The medications were prescribed by an American doctor.
In Indonesia, I learned that some of the medications do not come in the correct dose. In fact, they only come in one dose like one size fits all. If the dose is too high you can try and cut the pill. If it's not enough you can try and take more. Both solutions are less than ideal. Some of the medications I need here are expensive some are cheap.

Before moving here there should be an Indonesian medication match search engine that will tell you if your medication is available and in what dose. Because of this issue and a very substandard Health Care system, I do not recommend Indonesia as a retirement destination.

Trying to import your medication cost even more and no guarantee you will get them.

Yes the photo was taken in Japan, I think in Kyoto or Kobe. I visited so many of these Inari Shrines in Japan, but I believe this was taken probably in Kyoto in Gion.

I guess for your high blood pressure medication you need to find a good doctor and get the right medication dosage. My father in law has the same condition, he is skinny as anything but has this high blood pressure thing.

Find a good doctor in Indonesia?

It was an Indonesian doctor who told me the medications I need are not sold here in the correct dose I need.

Indonesia's medications are limited and the quality of the medications will be even further substandard if you try and use BPJS.

Good luck.

Pretty much the above posts have summed up medication within indonesia with pro's and con's from a personal point of view, mine and wife opinion we just dont bother with indonedian medication or doctors ( if very basic fine anything above not a chance in hell)
We are lucky and are very near to singapore and malaysia and again in my honest opinion these are miles ahead in quality, service and price (yes even singapore prices in some cases especially kids vaccines are much less)
If i had any illness and wasnt sure i wouldnt hesitate to go elsewhere
That said a hospital near to us does offer good service but anything that concerned / seriousme i wouldnt bother

You're in a lucky situation being so close to Singapore. I visit different doctors or specialists locally when I need to and fortunately nothing serious so far so haven't need to head over to Malaysia for a while.

You are correct. My friend's Indonesian wife has some type of anemia and the Indonesian doctors do not know how to diagnose her. The Indonesian doctors admitted they couldn't help and recommended to go elsewhere. That's after my friend spent over $30,000 USD and get no diagnoses. One time I had a cancer cell on my face and an Indonesian dermatologist specialist looked at it and recommended plastic surgery! I returned to America where it was immediately recognized as cancer and removed. If you have the money do what wealthy Indonesians do and go to Singapore for treatment.

Or what less wealthy people do and go to Malaysia where there are also excellent doctors and hospitals.

The most famous Javanese healer "Ningshi" is my neighbor. I live in Pandaan, East Jawa. Indonesians line up at her door every day and pay 10 million rupiahs each. She makes on average $5,000 USD per day. Many Indonesians still believe in magic.

I love Kyoto, I spent around 16yrs doing exhibitions there for a week every year.
I liked the Golden Palace, beautiful building and pristine gardens, for one example.
I've stopped doing exhibitions there now,  I used to do 5 shows a year like Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto.

Grenadier what does your post have to do with Indonesian medicine or medical care?
I visited a local clinic for a minor ear issue today. While I was there I asked the staff why there were no signs or flyers about the Coronavirus in the clinic. They didn't know what I was talking about and I speak Indonesian. The Government is totally failing the public in distributing information about the virus. I printed my own Coronavirus info flyer and handed them out to over 1,000 locals in my village and schools who have no plan. Most do not have TV, radio, read, or have any information on how to handle the virus. I believe in a few months Indonesia will be a catastrophe. I have booked a flight out. Good luck.

guitarlo wrote:

. I believe in a few months Indonesia will be a catastrophe. I have booked a flight out. Good luck.

Given other countries have experienced the worst of the virus and are recovering in less than 2 months, and many developed countries such as Italy are a mess, I would question the wisdom of buying a ticket anywhere, even assuming your destination country allows you to enter.
It's not impossible you could be refused entry, sent back, the refused re-entry to Indonesia.

If I didn't have to travel I wouldn't. I must take care of my ill daughter in America. What you are saying is if 1st World countries are a mess with the virus what hope is there for a developing country like Indonesia? Maybe not much but the Gov can make a better effort in distributing info about the virus. At least I did something to help. How about you?

Considering that my message wasn't directed at you I suggest you keep your comments out of my message to shill88!
Who do you think you are?

That must be interesting to display your art work over there. I love all those places, also Kobe and Nara, but I always spend a lot of time in Shizuoka Prefecture too. I really love the culture and the people and am learning Japanese at the moment.

That's great you're learning Japanese, it's a difficult language to learn isn't it? I really like Japan, the culture, discipline, cleanliness and the food.
It is good fun at the exhibitions there as I know a lot of the other vendors from places like Russia, Germany, France and many other countries. Business has been good too.

I've lived in Indonesia for 20 years.  I travel to Singapore for all my medical issues other than a common cold or similar.  It's worked out great for me until now. I can't get there to get my prescriptions filled as they've initiated a ban for ASEAN countries unless I want to stay in a hotel for 14 days before even being allowed to see the Dr. I've checked with the pharmacies here they don't have most of my medicines in Indonesia.  Looks like I will have to return to my home country for a few months.

It's not so difficult because I learned to read, write, speak and translate Mandarin in London and then got a scholarship to study in Taiwan for a year. So since some of the kanji characters are similar or the same as Chinese I have a head start. But actually I just want to concentrate on the spoken and not written as not enough time to learn everything.

Is Malaysia also banning everyone too? If not, you can pretty much pick up most of what is in Singapore in Malaysia. It's where I lived for many years and where I usually go to see specialists.

Malaysia is introducing total lockdown either today or tomorrow it will also not allow malaysians to leave the country with the exception to land and sea crossing to and from singspore for work purposes only

Hello everyone,

Can we get back to the original questions please?

Thank you.

Speaking from much experience ,,  if you have physician write letter explanation of your medicine , how often you need and dose with diagnosis they will allow through in your carry bag ,,,  the letter is a MUST
Here is the official instruction both narcotic and Non narcotic medicines for personal consumption … medication

Best of luck next trip

Getting back to the original question, medicines are more expensive than in my home country because prescribed medicines back home are free. But more importantly, they tend to use less effective drugs such as antibiotics and so on which are generic but less good and often with side effects. I have taken drugs here for different ailments and twice they caused me to have vertigo. One time when I got vertigo (I've only ever gotten it twice in my life and both times in Indonesia) I visited a good hospital and saw an internist who prescribed another medicine for vertigo which then caused me to get allergic rashes so I went to another hospital and spoke to a pharmacist that I know and he gave me anti-allergy pills.

So drugs in Indonesia are generally more expensive than back home, and since they often use generic drugs there may be side effects meaning more visits to the doctor and even more drugs to buy, that means expensive bills.

Shill88 wrote:

Getting back to the original question, medicines are more expensive than in my home country because prescribed medicines back home are free. .

I've been away for a long time - When did they become free for everyone?
It was nine quid for each thing you got last time I looked, that being about Rp170,000, a lot more than the cheaper medicines out here (if you buy away from the doctor or hospital)

As an example, these common antibiotics are far cheaper than the near on a tenner you'd pay in Barnsley. However, if prescriptions are now free, that's rather better.

Been free in scotland and wales about 10/ 15 years at a guess (for everyone regardless of financial circumstances) England depends on income, age etc

There is no right or wrong answer Fred. Each of us will have a different experience, different illness and therefore a different answer. You give an account of your experience in your own posting and let others give their own accounts from their own experience would be the best way, otherwise, if you have the only correct answer then the rest of us better keep quiet and you be the forum spokesman for all the members here as you know everything best :)

Shill88 wrote:

Getting back to the original question, medicines are more expensive than in my home country because prescribed medicines back home are free. ..

Shill88 wrote:

There is no right or wrong answer Fred.

I'm trying to see who gets free prescriptions in the UK as you said, but that seems to be for pensioners, inpatients, the disabled, and younger people, that leaving the vast majority paying nine quid (Rp173,000) per item. There are a few more eligible groups, but none of them are very likely to be expats in Indonesia. It's possible unemployed diabetics have swarmed over, but less than likely.
That would leave your assertion medicines here are more expensive up for debate, some being so, others not.
It would be true for inpatients with no medical insurance, or pensioners in the same position but, as Indonesian immigration rules insist on insurance for retirement visa holders, that should not happen.
The best I can tell, the majority of common drugs such as antibiotics are generally cheaper (If bought from local pharmacies) in Indonesia, but others might well be more expensive.
Simple drugs such as paracetamol seem to be about the same price.

That changes if you can show where the NHS site mentions free scripts for all in your native England - I suppose the site I found could be out of date.

Shill88 wrote:

since they often use generic drugs there may be side effects meaning more visits to the doctor and even more drugs to buy, that means expensive bills.

Some fake and poor quality drugs are around, commonly illegally produced or sold, but I always buy the real deal rather than risk back street places that sell dodgy drugs.
It's obviously silly using unknown options you can't be sure of, but I know locals sometimes do it for cost savings.

Are drugs more expensive in Indonesia?

Common, over the counter stuff - About the same price, give or take
Drugs bought from reliable outlets - Some cheaper, some not
Drugs in hospitals - Generally more expensive
Drugs for pensioner inpatients - Medical insurance is required for your visa, so no.
Dodgy drugs - Who cares? just don't buy them - Drrr

Only england pay this is from BBC 2011