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Monday, September 19, 2005

Medicine in Argentina

Since last Thursday I've been sick with a sinus infection -- something I frequently get during winters. Since I'm going through two winters this year (I left the U.S. last May, just after winter ended) I'm going through two seasons of sinus infections. Joy.

Well, dealing with new medicines here is a quite a bit different. First, the brand names are all totally different. So, if you're looking for Sudafed (a common drug in the U.S. for nasal decongestant), you can't find that here. Instead, you have to rely on the name of the ingredients. The name of the medication in Sudafed is "pseudoephedrine". However, all those names have to be translated first. So, in Spanish the name is "pseudofedrina". So, that's the drug you have to look for.

You have to be careful too about all the ingredients. In addition to the QURA PLUS medicine that I was taking (which has the pseudophedrine for the decongestant), I was using another med for pain and another for my sore throat. Well, it turns out that the QURA PLUS also included something called "paracetamol", which meant nothing to me. I found out later that paracetamol is the same as "acetaminophen" which is also a pain reliever. So, I was doubling up on pain meds, which wasn't necessary.

For anyone living in Barrio Norte, there's an English-speaking pharmacist at a small pharmacy at Santa Fe and Sanchez de Bustamante (on Santa Fe street between Bustamante and the Disco supermarket). Buying meds here is not the easiest thing in the world and since its so different with all the names, its best not to screw around and find someone who speaks English who can make sure you're not going to be taking the wrong things.

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Blogger rickulivi said...

Be careful with self medicating. It is easy in Argentina because you don't need a prescription to buy whatever you want.
I used to buy a headache pill there--based on the recommendation of a friend--and it worked fabously well. But I kept getting more and more headaches. Some times, the headache would disappear within minutes of taking my pill. I thought that was miracolous. Finally, I went to see a doctor in the US, after about 15 years of suffering. He looked at the ingredients in Spanish, and he told me my body was addicted to the pill. It was triggering the headaches so that it could get a dose of the pill. Spooky. I gave that pill up, and I put up with some terrible headaches for a few days -- withdrawals symptons now I recognize. Then, the headachas have stopped. They do come maybe once every 2 weeks, but I was getting them before 4 or 5 days per week.
So, be careful with self medicating, and get the best possible doctor in Bs. As. because there are that, in my opinion, are not very competent.

9/20/2005 01:35:00 AM  
Blogger Deanster said...

Thanks for the info on the local English speaking pharmacy at Santa Fe and Sanchez de Bustamante (on Santa Fe street between Bustamante and the Disco). This is around the corner from where I will be staying in November & December. Last year, I was unable to find simple over-the-counter medications, (e.g. Tylenol PM) at the local Pharmacia and they didn't speak English.

9/20/2005 07:39:00 AM  
Blogger said...

Hope you get better!

9/23/2005 06:08:00 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

I'm acquainted with a few internists and surgeons in Argentina; I've had an inlaw recently operated on in Mendoza (for heart surgery); two other Argentine inlaws of mine are doctors; these friends and some comparative literature I've read assure me that medicine is not wanting in Argentina. What's especially amazing is the cost-- it's quality medicine at U.S. 1950's can't beat it. They even have the '50's customs of doctor visits to your home...all this included in a premium monthly policy that costs well below $75 US. It's simply amazing.

9/24/2005 09:38:00 PM  
Blogger akakak said...

I don't really know the situation in Argentina, but in most countries, the pharmacist can prescribe, if you get one who can understand you. For minor complaints and for continuing medication, you just ask what is appropriate or what is equivalent. Pharmacists know more about drugs than doctors anyway, even in the US. The doctor's speciality is the diagnosis of disease, and if you don't know what is wrong, go to the doctor.

11/04/2005 03:00:00 AM  
Blogger Gonzalo said...

Hi there guys. I'm Argentinian and working for Americans since a few years. I'm working now for Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield Central Region, as you all may know, the health insurance.
Having one of the best health insurance companies here in Argentina, Galeno (we call them pre-paid medicine or "prepaga") I can tell you that it's not as different as in the US and I would tell in many cases that they cover more than what I am used to deny in the know plans with Anthem. I was reading also that medicine here is not that well recognized and no, that is not true. Reallity here is that everybody seems to be a doctor because we think we can solve from a headache to building an empire state. Buuuut, if you're an educated person and go to a good doctor or good hospital there is nothing to be afraid of. Self-medicating here is very, very easy and that is also a shame, but everything is changing now and nowadays it's more restricted.
For all you foreign people that need help with anything you need you can contact me!

9/19/2007 12:41:00 AM  
Blogger mike said...

Can anybody tell me if I can buy Advair or Singular in Argentina over the counter? I've also heard that I can use a US script at a BsAs pharmacy?? True? I'm staying in BsAs for 6 months and need asthma medicine to be attainable. Thanks all

8/16/2008 04:42:00 PM  

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