Getting medication in Taiwan

Can someone tell me a little bit about prescription medications here in Taiwan? I’m specifically interested in birth control pills and anxiety medication (like Paxil). Do you have to get a prescription from a doctor? Do you go to one of those little pharmacy shops? If you have a prescription from a doctor in your home country, will that work? What are the prices like? Also, just out of curiosity, what are the general views regarding both birth control and mentil illness/depression/anxiety issues here in Taiwan?

There are two ways to get drugs:

(1) Get them dispensed at a public hospital or doctor’s clinic. You will need to pay for the drugs and doctors if you are not enrolled in Taiwan’s national insurance program.

(2) Just go to a drug store and by them. You need to find a store that carries ‘prescription’ drugs, rather than just the usual range of headache pills and cold cures. There is one on Pa Der (Ba De) Road near the Pacific Core Shopping Center. There are also some near the 3-Services Hospital in Gong Guan on Ting Chou (Ting Zhou) Rd. There are doubtless many more! In my experience the prices are high, but if you know what you need and don’t want to waste time with doctors it works.

I would say Taiwan is far behind the west in medial treatment of mental heath, except for the chronically sick. One could argue that a stronger system of social support, and traditional meditiation, belief systems, and Chinese herbal medicine compenstate to some extent (although bushi bans, work hours and pressure, overcrowding all act the other way!)

Birth control is not my field, sorry.

Hope that helps!

As far as from what I know and have been told you need a perscription for both types of medicine you are talking about. Probably any hospital can get your birth control pills, but for anxiety meds, you may need to go to a specific hospital depending on if you are talking about psychology durgs or not…


Jeff, are you sure a prescription is needed? Seems to me drug stores will sell you anything.

Here is an example: I wanted to take Zantac (a beta blocker, available in regular drug stores USA but not in Taiwan). I went to the hospital and they said they could only prescribe it if they did an endoscopy (stick a TV camera down your throat and film your insides). However this drug can be bought in one of the ‘prescription’ drug stores with no fuss.

I have bought all manner of things - Insulin and syringes, antibiotics, …does anyone know if a prescription is really needed, or do I get special treatment because I am a foreigner?

You dont need a prescription for most medicines here including birth control pills. Just go to any pharmacy and buy them. Its that simple!!

But can you get the specific brand/kind you want? Or do you just get whatever generic type they have on hand? There’s quite a range of birth control pills (and anxiety meds, for that matter), and I want to stick with my trusty brand.

Try the Message Board at My Taipei Baby. It’s a new board, but you’ll find more women there I think who can offer some advice on birth control.

I use rhythm myself, because I could never remember to take the pill every day, but am considering an IUD.

Interested in seeing any replies you get.

My Taipei Baby
Resources for pregnancy and parenting young children in Taipei

Originally posted by littlemissflip: But can you get the specific brand/kind you want?

They carry quite a lot of brands, but sometimes they use different trade names - it is a good idea to look up the correct drug name and all the brand names first before you go. Most drugs are sold under 3-5 different names. You can use Internet to do this.

Thanks to all for the useful tidbits of info. I will check out the MyTaipeiBaby site too. Of course, if I didn’t have this silly social anxiety disorder, I would have already gone and checked things out personally long ago! A bit ironic, isn’t it…

just last week i wandered into my local pharmacy looking for NyQuil or some kind of cold medicine that would knock me out for a good 12 hours. first, he offered me some herbal pills which i declined. he went into a cupboard and pulled out three tins of valium, xanax, and something else he referred to as “very popular in U.S.A. right now. i take before and you be very relaxing.”
this is also the same pharmacy that never hesitates to give me anitbiotics when i get my monthly pollution cough.
they also have every brand of birth control pills… Diane 35, etc. i’m sure the rest of Taipei’s pharmacy operate the same way. as far as anti-depressants i think you have to go to a doctor and just ask for them and they will be given. there isn’t much regulation in this country as far as medications are concerned.

Readers may be interested to know there is a pharmacy in one of the lanes of Li Shui Street that specializes in American branded drugs. Start from the junction of Hsin Yi Rd and Song Jiang Rd. Walk east on Hsin Yi on the south side of the street. Turn left on Li Shui Street and right on the second or third lane (I forgot exactly, but it should not be hard to find). The area is well known for resturants, especially Dian Xin.

I guess it is about time someone mentioned that treating yourself with prescription drugs is not always a smart thing to do. If you are looking for a refill for a medication you know you need (for example Insulin if you are a diabetic, or birth control pills if you are a woman), then just buying it might sometimes be a good choice. Otherwise, doctors in Taiwan are well trained, inexpensive, available at all hours. Many speak good English (Chinese and Taiwanese if you prefer). Waiting is usually minimal in local clinics, hospitals are slower! If you are in Taiwan’s heath insurance program, you only need to may a copayment for drugs. They are a lot cheaper that way.

Self diagnosis and treatment is not even recommended for doctors! If you get it wrong you can waste time, money, end up sicker, or even dead!

quote[quote] Start from the junction of Hsin Yi Rd and Song Jiang Rd [/quote]

I think that should be Xinsheng S Rd, not Song Jiang. Thanks for the address though.

I think it would be great if we could get some addresses here of GOOD pharmacies that have more than the average amount of drugs. There’s a really good one called Shanghai Pharmacy near 228 Park. I think the street is called Hengkang St or something liek that (I’ll check). From the West side of 228 park follow that street and cross Chungqing S Rd and it’s ont he right hand side with a sign saying ‘since 1950’. They have some special asthma drugs (liek Serevent) that I haven’t seen elsewhere. There’s a couple fo other things I’m looking for though, so any more addresses would be appreciated.


I’ve got a question about getting meds in Taiwan. Does anyone know if the national health insurance plan covers meds, and if so, what percentage of the cost do they cover? Also, do most meds in Taiwan keep their English names or do they have translations?

What KIND of medication?

web page

If you like to live on the edge, Taiwanese brands of famous label Western meds are available for much lower prices. Some even work. I’ve had good luck with a few in fact. You can often buy the med of your choice at your local pharmacy without the luxury of a prescription (try the one at the corner of Hankou St. and Huaining St. [I think] near the Taipei Train Station; they’re really most obliging!)

Generic names and well-known Western brand names will be usually translated or transliterated into Chinese, but sometimes you might see them printed in English on the labeling or box.



Does anyone know where you can you get Ventolin from?

Well, I need to get Allegra, an antihistamine for allergies. Though, it may not be a problem there, since there aren’t as many poll-producing trees and plants as here in Maryland. Then again, the air quality isn’t exactly that great. But, anyway, does the national health insurance plan cover meds, and if so, what percentage of the cost do they cover (okay, I had to add this gremlin…he’s kinda cool)

Hmmm, I’m not sure about trying a Taiwanese version of the medication. I did have a roomate last time I was in Taiwan who was a pharmaceutical company representative, and he was a reputable guy. I’ll have to think this over. I wouldn’t have a problems getting the medication without a prescription, though. I already take Allegra, have read through the long prescription thing you can get, and am very familiar with it. Though, if I had any problems with it, I would definitely see a doctor…

vicoden? Oxycotin?

Fluphenazine hydrochloride ? Meprobamate ? Amylobarbitone ? Cyproterone acetate (tee hee!) ?