I recently visited two farmacias in Coxen Hole... a few observations...
A friend back in the States asked me to price some medications for her. As has been indicated on the forum, no prescriptions were needed for drugs that do require a prescription in the US. These were common drugs - nothing narcotic or anything... not sure what would have happened if i'd asked for oxycodone...
But blood-pressure meds and amoxicillin were available - and cheap.
First I priced at the farmacia at "the Triangle" - that's where the main road into Coxen Hole splits off the main road on the west side of Coxen Hole... near the new taco shop and just west of the road up to Plaza Mar. This is a smallish place.
The bad news - all the drugs I checked are higher... considerably higher... than the other farmacia I used. For example... the blood pressure medication - a generic - was $.15 a pill here. That's lots lots lots less than my friend pays in the US... but at the other place they were only 2.3 lemps apiece, about $.11 each.
The good news - this farmacia has a TIGO franchise. I learned to read the fine print when my month long TIGO purchase was used up in 20 days... turns out it is 30 days or a certain amount of data, whichever comes first. So much for those youtube downloads! Anyway, last year I schlepped over to French Harbour and the megaplaza for a TIGO stick. If it is possible to do this online, nobody I talked to knows how.
This time, I went into the nice lady at the farmacia and she clicked a few numbers on her phone and needed the phone number associated with the stick - and it was recharged in just a couple of minutes on a Sunday morning.
The second farmacia I visited is the one across from the Petrosun - the gas station below Eldons on the main road at Coxen Hole. It was closed Sunday morning, but open on Monday when I visited. This is a larger store with lots of workers and a lot more and varied stock. They had a better selection of sizes and prices - and as previously mentioned, their drug prices were typically around 25% cheaper than the other place on my admittedly narrow range of comparisons.
By the way... when the issue of farmacias and prescriptions and drug prices came up on the forum some months back, one of our knowledgeable-but-somewhat-snide contributors said all the drugs would be a lot cheaper than in the States except maybe if you were looking for "the little blue pill." I didn't know what that mean so I Googled and learned this was a reference to Viagra.
Inquiring minds want to know!
While I was having my TIGO stick renewed (no snide comments, please) I noticed the glass case below had a colorful and numerous display of condoms. Next to it were Viagra and Cialis pills. So, for research purposes... the Viagra was about 1800 lemps for 4 100mg pills. Thats ballpark $22.50 a pill! I had no idea!
I had my friend back in the states call our discount mailorder pharmacy and they confirmed that our insurance plan doesn't cover Viagra and that the same 100mg pills are about $30. Who knew?!
So the first Roatan farmacia was a lot cheaper... but still high.
When I went to the other farmacia I checked, and the prices were lower than the first. I didn't write it down, but I think it was about $17.50 per pill there. The guy also suggested looking at the Cialis, because the generic is available at much reduced price. A single dose of Tadalfil is 20mg and costs around $7.50... compared with a US price reported to be around $30 for the brand name Cialis.
Bottom line - prescription drugs are available without prescription. I make no guarantees about their authenticity - there are lots of reports of counterfeit drugs in developing countries. I do know that the pills we bought... and all the pills we looked at in these two farmacias... have the packaging and looks of the real things. I happened to see a fresh box of amoxicillin opened - a guy wanted just four pills... appeared that's all he could afford. They looked exactly like the amoxicillin I had in my first aid kit from the US and that looked exactly like the amoxicillin I picked up to supplement my supply in Nairobi in January. (The pills were cheaper in Kenya, btw.) The capsules are pretty distinctive in color...
so I make no claims to the quality of the drugs - just comparing the prices...
and don't forget the TIGO tip. A friend on the island lends me his spare stick, so I don't know what that costs. I believe charging the stick for 30 days/5.4 Gb... whichever comes first... was about $22. There are plans with more data, but not more time... if I'm careful about downloading, I don't run out. It is advertised as a 4G connection... but only 3G is actually available in Roatan. It is surprisingly fast... we even video Skype with not so bad quality.