Where I lived in the US we had pharmacies every few blocks in the retail areas. Additionally, most supermarkets had one in the back of the store.

Here in the Philippines you’ll also see a abundance of pharmacies, even more so then back in the US. There are some similarities between the two countries’ pharmacies, but some big differences, too.


The pharmacies in the US are geared around prescription drugs. Especially the ones in the supermarkets and such. Larger stores like Walgreens are similar to a Mercury Drugstore here though, and carry many other grocery and household items. Many smaller drive-through type pharmacies carry very little OTC drugs. You tend to visit the local store to got those items like cold medicine, pain killers, anti inflammatory, etc.

Most of the pharmacies here are your one stop drug source. OTC and prescription. The small neighborhood type might not carry everything you are looking for, but you have sari-sari stores for those household items. They will have what you need for your medicine, almost without fail.

With regards to prescriptions, they generally aren’t needed here. This is by far the biggest difference to the US. Some of the bigger outfits, Watson’s, Mecury, etc., may ask for a prescription for certain drugs, but I’ve found that you can just go to another pharmacy, and so far I’ve found nothing that couldn’t be bought. Though I’ve not tried anything out of the ordinary, as in morphine. I’m sure there are lists of illegal drugs, but that’s not an area I care to research.

Yes, you can even get the popular men’s drug here without prescription, both name brand and generic, for those of you wondering.


There are generics available in both countries, and I usually go that route. I’ve found that I’ve had much better luck with getting those at smaller pharmacies, or pharmacies that specialize in generics, such as The Generic Pharmacy (catchy name, huh?).

In some cases the cost difference here can be extreme. If you have the time, I really recommend doing your homework on this. I bought some antibiotics a couple of weeks ago that I would have saved over P2500 if I had gone generic. Evidently Watson’s didn’t carry a generic. I was in a hurry and not near a generic pharmacy and I paid the price, literally, for it.


It is common in the US for prescription drugs to be dispensed per pill. It is not so common to get OTC meds that way. They usually come in a box or bottle of varying quantities, but always multiples.

Every drug here is bought per each. Sure you can get a whole pack, but they are dispensed or calculated just like the prescription drugs in the US. I’m not sure if it is cheaper that way, and at first I found it somewhat inconvenient, but I’ve changed my mind on that. I’m used to it now, and prefer it.

For the most part I’ve had about as good look with my little pharmacy in the small town outside where we live as I have with the ones in town. Prices are usually as good or better. I try to avoid Mercury and Watson’s now, as they are always more expensive than the others, and their selection of generics is very limited.

It’s unfortunate that I’ve had to gain so much experience with the pharmacies here. I rarely got sick back in the states, and when I did I could usually get through it without medicine. If I did need medicine, I could almost always get by with the OTC cold and flu stuff.

It’s been a different story for me here. One that I had never considered. I guess I’ve been sick about 50% of the time I’ve been here. You plan for many things when you make a move like this. Some things never occur to you. I’m hoping that it is all still adjustment and getting my immunities built up. Riding the jeepney with 20+ very intimate people multiple times a day probably isn’t helping either.

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