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Taking medication to Thailand

Posted by LaraP on 25/8/2010 at 14:46


I think I'm most probably being overly worried about this but have heard how some prescription and over-the-counter drugs we take for granted in the UK are not necessarily allowed in Thailand.

I'm going to be taking about 10 months' worth of the contraceptive pill with me (Cilest) - would I need a GP's letter for this or is that unnecessary?

Also, with over-the-counter drugs, are there any that I may take for granted in the UK that are not allowed in Thailand? I'm planning on taking the usual - diarrhoea tablets, Pepto Bismal, rehydration sachets, Brolene eye drops, paracetemol, ibuprofen, Motilium and Lemsip sachets.

And of course I'm taking an awful lot of prescription doxycycline.

I know this is probably a silly question but it would ease my worries if someone could let me know they're ok to take!



#1 LaraP has been a member since 17/8/2009. Posts: 20

Posted by neosho on 25/8/2010 at 20:45

Lara.....don't really know about the "pill", I'm a man, but for any prescription drugs you take have a doctors letter. A lot of the over the counter drugs you mention , that I recognize anyway, are readily available here. You really won't believe what you can buy over the counter here that you would have to see a doctor for in your home country. Without trying to be intrusive, why are you bringing all that stuff anyway? It's not like everyone is running around half naked carrying spears and clubs. LOL

#2 neosho has been a member since 13/8/2008. Posts: 386

Posted by exacto on 25/8/2010 at 23:46

I actually did see a guy wearing just a loin cloth and carrying a spear once near Chiang Dao. But it was just the one time, so I think neosho is right on that one.

I agree with him on the other stuff too. Generally it is a good idea to bring a copy of your prescription and/or a doc's letter for any prescription meds you take with you. Odds are you won't need it, but I have seen on rare occassion such a letter come in handy during a luggage search when crossing a border, etc.

There are a few medications that are legal in the west that are controlled in Thailand, but it isn't that many and I didn't recognize any of them in the list you mention. Besides, as neosho says, you wouldn't believe what you can purchase over the counter in Thailand and other southeast Asian countries. You should be able to find most if not all of what you need at the local chemist, and those seem to be on every corner of every town. The meds will likely be cheaper in Thailand than back home too. Cheers.

#3 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,840

Posted by LaraP on 26/8/2010 at 00:08

Lol yeah don’t worry I’m not expecting to be greeted with the sight of loin cloths and spears – though shall keep my eyes peeled in Chiang Dao J

I know I prob am being a bit OTT with the over-the-counter medication but I prefer to know I have them and if I do get under the weather there’s no need to try and find a pharmacy and get the stuff as I will already have them and know they’re safe to use.

As for the pill and doxycycline (anti-malarials), as they’re not prescription drugs in Thailand do you reckon just having the label on the packets will be enough? In the UK we don’t get to keep a copy of the prescription once you’ve handed it in and I don’t think my doc would be impressed writing a letter about the pill (which isn’t essential and can be obtained without a prescription from family planning clinics) and the anti-malarials given the reason for having them is obvious. I know I’ll be taking quite a lot of them but I could show them my round the world ticket and show how I’m travelling for over 7 months to explain the quantity – would that be enough? Yet again the reason why I’m bringing them from home is that I feel happier knowing I have them and can be assured that they are safe to use.

Cheers for your responses so far – it’s been really helpful!

#4 LaraP has been a member since 17/8/2009. Posts: 20

Posted by exacto on 26/8/2010 at 00:31

Fair enough. Truth is I don't know specifically what Thai law states about those prescription medications. I know I'd be comfortable enough about taking them with me with just the prescription labels we have here in the states, but those include the name of the person receiving the prescription.

You might want to contact either the Thai Embassy in the UK or the UK Embassy in Bangkok for more specifics on this. Perhaps a travel clinic would be willing to give you a letter for those meds if your own GP will not.

Just curious too. I realize it is a personal choice, but what made you decide to take anti-malarials for the entire time you are in Thailand? Will you be travelling in undeveloped areas or areas with malaria issues? Regards.

#5 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,840

Posted by LaraP on 26/8/2010 at 01:00


I think you're right that it should really be ok with the label - ours have our names on it too so there'd be no doubt that they are for me - but think I'll double-check with the UK Embassy in Bangkok just to ease my mind (I'm ever the worrier)! Thanks for all your help again!

Re: anti-malarials, I'm only planning on taking them when in Chiang Mai and travelling over into Laos, then when I'm in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam and when I'm back in Thailand in Kanchanaburi and Sangkhlaburi and throughout my time in Malaysia. As you have to take Doxycycline 28 days after you're out of a malaria area I find that I just have to keep taking it even when I'm not in a malaria area as I end up in one before the 28 days are up. Also I think I'm being overly cautious taking them in Malaysia - it's more to appease my mum who worries more than me! Better safe than sorry I guess!

Thanks again!

#6 LaraP has been a member since 17/8/2009. Posts: 20

Posted by neosho on 26/8/2010 at 07:18

Glad to see you have a sense of humor Lara. :) As exacto says, you should be ok. I make a yearly trek back to the states and bring back a year supply of a med I can't get here. It always makes the knees kind of week though when you make a plane change in some country and see the sign that says "Drug smuggling punishable by death". Maybe someone can help us here, but I thought the malaria problem was more of a southern coastal problem. Myself, I've always been concerned about Dengue fever and it's close cousin, Hypockywacus. Not it's real name but a generic term I use for an illness I don't know how to spell. :)

#7 neosho has been a member since 13/8/2008. Posts: 386

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