Many medicines are available from pharmacies without prescription, including some that require a prescription in most western countries (although antibiotics can no longer be bought over the counter). On the other hand, some medicines that can be bought without prescription in other countries require one in Kuwait and you should check with a doctor. Most pharmacies also carry non-medical items, such as cosmetics and perfumes, but costs are likely to be higher than at other shops. General medicines, such as painkillers, cough medicine and eye drops, are widely available in supermarkets and larger stores.
Note, however, that Health Ministry in Kuwait has banned the use of tranquillisers, anti-depressants and in some instances sleeping pills, except for extreme cases associated with certain types of mental illness. (Ministers have seen the problems caused by their overuse in the west.) If you’re dependent on any of these medicines and carry them with you, you must ensure that you’re also carrying the doctor’s prescription and preferably a letter from your doctor confirming that you need them. You’re most unlikely to be able to obtain new supplies when in Kuwait, so have enough for your requirements, but not so many that you could be suspected of carrying drugs for sale.
If you take a medicine on a regular basis, make sure that you know the content name and formula, not just the brand name, as many brand names vary from country to country and between manufacturers. You might have to renew your prescription from a local doctor, as many pharmacists aren’t authorised to accept foreign prescriptions.
Most pharmacies are open from 9.30am to 1pm and from 4.30 to 8.30pm or later, Saturdays to Thursdays. A notice in the local press indicates the duty pharmacy open outside these times. Many hospitals have a 24-hour pharmacy, where you can obtain prescription and non-prescription medicines.
It’s important to obtain a receipt if you want to claim from your insurance. Medicines are quite expensive and there have been cases of over-prescribing in the private health sector, perhaps because of a link between the prescriber and the pharmacy.
This article is an extract from Living and Working in Gulf States & Saudi Arabia. Click here to get a copy now.