Thursday, February 2, 2012

Foreign Equivalents of Over-The-Counter Meds

One thing we know for sure is that we will get the occasional headaches, muscle aches, cold, sniffles, etc. while traveling. We have our favorite over-the-counter (OTC) meds in the States, but will we be able to find the same meds anywhere else?

The answer is, most likely long as we know the generic drug name (e.g. diphenhydramine instead of Benadryl). Many countries come up with their own brand names. Surely, visitors to the States are equally as confused by the plethora of strange sounding meds when they walk down our drugstore aisles.

Interestingly, acetaminophen (Tylenol) is only called that in the US, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, and Iran, of all places. Anywhere else, and they won't know what we're referring to. We would need to ask for paracetamol. Sometimes abbreviated APAP.

Ibuprofen seems to be a truly generic name and universal around the globe. Some brand names to watch for besides Motrin and Advil are, Nurofen and Nuprin.

We also swear by Advil Cold and Sinus. The pseudoephedrine component with the ibuprofen really helps clear up cold symptoms. It's unclear as to how the rest of the world handles the sale of products with pseudoephedrine, but some of the countries are similar to the States where a pharmacist supervises the purchase and the purchase quantity is limited. Interestingly, the Japan Consulate website says the following:

"The following over-the-counter medications are prohibited in Japan since they contain narcotic or stimulant ingredients in excess of the Japanese standard: a) Tylenol Cold b) Nyquil c) Nyquil Liquicaps d) Actifed e) Sudafed f) Advil Cold & Sinus g) Dristan Cold ("No Drowsiness") h) Dristan Sinus i) Drixoral Sinus j) Vicks Inhaler k) Lomotil."

Naproxen sodium (Aleve) is also a go-to OTC med for me, especially with the 12-hour dosing. The fact that it comes in many brand names around the world is useless because outside of the US and Canada, it is apparently a prescription only med. We will not be making a doctor's visit just to get some Aleve!

Fortunately, for those who are not allergic, Aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) or ASA is widely available.

We should be fine wherever we go, as long as we know the generic name, and don't expect the same exact dosing. We certainly don't plan on taking a big supply with us so we will have to make it work, wherever we are.