Pharmacies and Prescriptions
Pharmacies in Costa Rica are known as farmacias. They are scattered all over the country. They are all very well stocked and offer a variety of products other than over the counter drugs such as baby formula, deodorant, shampoos, vitamins, diapers etc Many of the drugs sold are generic brand. One thing that may shock most people is that people do not need a prescription for many drugs that you would in North America. Only if someone is looking for antibiotics, narcotics, or psychotropic drugs will they even need a prescription. For these reason, the Costa Rican culture tends to self medicate and overuse pharmaceutical drugs. For example, at a farmacia and without a prescription you can get birth control, viagra, and even injections of many drugs over the counter.
One does not even need a doctor's consultation usually. All one needs to do is go to the pharmacy and describe the symptoms, as the pharmacists are well trained in recommending treatments. Local Pharmacists are registered and qualified through the Colegio de Farmaceticos. However, to be safe or if someone has severe symptoms definatly consult a doctor.
Prices for perscriptions are significantly less expensive than in North America. With some drugs individuals can get an additional discount for returning the original box like for Lipotor or Viagra. Also, one is able to buy pills separately and do not have to buy the whole box which makes the transaction much more economical. Plus, any additional pills will not remain lying around that could expire, simply pay for what is needed.
Another interesting fact that is frequently highlighted in the news is the extreme difference in prices from one pharmacy to another even if they are the same chain. In areas that are more touristic or wealthy areas pharmacies are significantly more expensive up to a $5 per pill difference.
To see a list of countrywide farmacias to find one in the area click here.
The three most popular and most well known pharmacy chains are: