When you are about to set out for your expat adventure in Hong Kong, don’t worry about packing three years worth of prescription medicines, pain killers, and dietary supplements. After all, your average Hong Kong pharmacy sells all of these, and importing a large quantity of any medication will only cause trouble with customs authorities.
Hong Kong does not only have a very good healthcare system, but pharmacies are also widely available. There are close to 550 pharmacies in Hong Kong. At a Hong Kong pharmacy, you can get most, if not all, medicines available anywhere else in the world. This applies to prescription medicines as well as non-prescription drugs. The government closely monitors Hong Kong’s pharmacies, and medications also have to be approved by the Health Department before they can be registered and sold at a Hong Kong pharmacy.
Pharmacies in Hong Kong must be run by registered pharmacists. To be registered, the applicant first has to obtain a pharmacy degree and then pass another written examination set by the Department of Health. Only then can they be officially registered. The Pharmaceutical Service of the Department of Health provides a list with all registered pharmacies in Hong Kong. If you need to get any kind of medication, make sure to go to a of registered Hong Kong pharmacy on this list, to ensure your own safety in Hong Kong. There have been reports of cases where drugs purchased from non-licensed pharmacies were spiked with other substances and caused serious injury to patients. You can also recognize an officially registered Hong Kong pharmacy by the “Rx”-symbol on the storefront.
In Hong Kong, pharmacies are generally open 7 days a week between 10 am and 7 pm. You might find some pharmacies which have even longer opening hours. For late-night emergency cases you can always go to a hospital pharmacy. In every district, there is at least one clinic which has a 24-hour pharmacy service for emergencies.
However, you cannot just turn up in a Hong Kong pharmacy and request any kind of medicine. About 40% of medication sold there are prescription medicines. This means that you need to produce a personal prescription from your doctor in order to purchase it. If you are just moving to Hong Kong, keep in mind that prescriptions from a doctor in your home country are not valid in Hong Kong. If you take a prescription medication on a regular basis, make sure to get a prescription from a Hong Kong doctor before you run out. Non-prescription drugs are either sold by pharmacies only or are available in general stores, too, depending on their classification by the authorities.
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