Tuesday, January 27, 2015

TWO TRIPS TO PHARMACIES IN MAZATLÁN: TREATING A MILD INFECTION WHILE IN MEXICO

EASY ACCESS TO PRESCRIPTION MEDICATION IN MEXICO SIMPLIFIES HEALTH CARE

 
Jon Purchasing "Prescription" Medication
   
Fear of illness or injury while living or traveling in Mexico is a real concern for many people. It may ease the minds of travelers to know that pharmacies, Urgent Care Clinics, and hospitals are readily available in tourist areas of Mexico. Here is one story of treating a health issue while in Mazatlan that I hope will help others realize that medical care is easily accessible in most areas of Mexico:
    My husband, Jon, awoke one morning with a stye on his lower eyelid, a small, red, painful bump with a whitehead. He asked me what I thought he should do since I am a retired pharmacist. I gave him the same answer I have given my patients for over 30 years. A stye is a mild infection in the oil gland of the hair follicle of the eyelash. The best treatment initially is to apply warm, moist compresses for 10 minutes, three to six times daily, using a clean washcloth each time. A stye will usually clear up in three to five days using this treatment. If not, then a prescription medication will be needed.
     Jon followed my advice diligently, but the stye persisted. I recommended that he use an antibiotic eye ointment (without steroids) which he could purchase over the counter in most pharmacies in Mexico. Between my knowledge and his research on the internet, we decided to go to a pharmacy and ask for an ophthalmic (eye) ointment containing the antibiotic polymixin b. Jon used www.SpanishDict.com to translate "polymixin b ophthalmic ointment without anti-inflammatory steroids" to "polimixina b ungüento oftálmico oftálmico sin esteroides antiinflamatorios . He printed this and we took our request to Guadalajara Pharmacy (Farmacia Guadalajara), a very professional discount pharmacy one block from where we
Farmacia Guadalajara in Mazatlan
were staying at Mar Rosa RV Park. The friendly pharmacy clerk confirmed that he wanted ointment for his eye, and then showed him an ophthalmic ointment containing the three antibiotics in Neosporin
®  ophthalmic ointment: neomicin, polymixin b, and bacitracin. We verified that the dating was not expired, as always. This medication would require a physician's prescription in the United States, but we were able to purchase the eye ointment over the counter without a prescription for only 90 pesos (about $6.50 U.S.), saving the cost of a visit to the doctor's office and, additionally, saving on the price of the medication. 
     However, after three days of treatment with the antibiotic eye ointment, the persistent stye, though improved, had not healed completely. I recommended that an oral antibiotic was needed. I suggested a five day course of azithromycin, 500 mg on day one, followed by 250 mg daily for four days. Jon confirmed my advice with more internet research, printed out the Spanish translation "azitromicina", and we headed to another pharmacy. We needed to stock up on groceries and wine that day also, so we decided to go to Mega Comercial, our favorite "one-stop shopping" store in Mazatlan. At this pharmacy when Jon handed his printed request for his medication to the pharmacy clerk, she told him it required a prescription. I asked how we could get a prescription, knowing that some Mexican pharmacies have a doctor who can write a prescription when needed. She brought a professional woman in a white coat, possibly the pharmacist, to the counter to help us.  The white-coated professional said it would cost 30 pesos (about $2.15 U.S.) for the prescription. When we agreed, she wrote the medication name and quantity along with Jon’s name and date of birth on a piece of paper. Then she sold us three tablets of azitromicina 500mg for 78 pesos (about $5.50 U.S.), enough to complete the five days of therapy. So, that’s how it works to buy “prescription” medication in many pharmacies in Mexico now! This "prescription writing" is a fairly recent development in the routine of selling prescription medication in Mexico and often doesn't occur in small town pharmacies. I never did figure out if the woman who wrote the prescription was a physician or a pharmacist. But we saved another doctor visit expense and purchased the prescription medication for a very low price. Jon's stye has finally healed after spending a total of $14.15 U.S. 
     The same treatment in the United States would have involved the same three consultations with a pharmacist (free), two visits to the doctor (around $100  each), and two prescriptions (around $75 U.S.) for a total of $250 to $300 U.S. Our health insurance may have reduced the prices some, but our out-of-pocket expense, after it was applied to our deductible, would have probably been at least $200 more for the same treatment in the United States as in Mexico!
     Treatment of some illnesses, injuries, and infections while in Mexico may require a visit to a physician for proper diagnosis and treatment. We like to locate a nearby clinic or hospital in each town we visit so we are prepared in case of emergency. In Mazatlan the Nuevo Mazatlan Medical Center is an Urgent Care clinic a short distance south of Mar Rosa RV Park where we stay in the Golden Zone, a quick taxi ride or bus trip down the street from us. It is located at: Av. Bugambilias #3172 Esq. Sábalo Cerritos, Marina Gardens, Local 2 (Av. Camarón Sábalo) Their phone number is: 52-669-191--3195.
     I recommend locating a doctor or hospital in your area when you are in Mexico so you know where to go if you become injured or ill. Below are emergency phone numbers to keep handy while in Mazatlan, though hopefully you will never need to use them (reminder, always verify this information as things change in Mexico):
     Emergency from a landline in Mazatlan: 066
     Red Cross Emergency: 52-669-981-3690
     Mazatlan City Police: 52-669-986-8126
     Mazatlan Fire Dept.: 52-669-981-2769 and 669-983-9920

     For more information on Healthy Living and Traveling in Mexico, read my book now available on Amazon.com worldwide. Take a look inside the book at:
"Healthy Living and Traveling in Mexico" Book on Amazon.com
   

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