Medical Tourism?

I hadn’t given a lot of thought before about medical conditions and international travel other than buying a couple of Z-Packs in Mexico or trying to find an over the counter medication in a non-English pharmacy and being sure that I have my prescriptions with me. But recently while traveling in Ecuador I ended up in a bind that turned out being a real shock.

I have a medical condition with my eyes that require me to use drops daily. Shortly after starting on a trip of several weeks I discovered that my sealed bottle of Lumigan had only a couple of drops in it. It was new, sealed and with no liquid in my TSA clear bag – I was concerned about going so long without using these drops. In the U.S. this is a prescription medication. Currently my prescription plan doesn’t cover these drops and it costs $287 a month with coupons. There is a generic version that also isn’t covered and still costs about $100 but I seem to have developed an allergy to using these. What to do?

Just around the corner from our hotel in Quito, Ecuador was a pharmacy, so I decided to start there. With a picture on my cell phone and a few words in sort of Spanish the pharmacist looked up the drug. Turning the computer screen toward me it showed Lumigan 2.5ml 0.01% for US$37. After some more exchanges in broken Spanish it appeared that she would have it in 2 hours and I didn’t need a prescription. Problem solved.

This experience raised a whole bunch of questions and as an American I would really like some answers. Why do people in Ecuador pay only 12% of what Americans pay? I did know that I could save $100 by buying from Canada but the authorization got complicated. How many other drugs are like this? Maybe I should have bought a years supply?

Medical issues in travel maybe needs a bit more attention?

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