Medical Costs in the Philippines: A Visit to Generics Pharmacy

Decided to visit one of the Generics Pharmacy in nearby Iloilo. Mindanao Bob had recommended checking out this chain of drugstores in the Philippines which can offer up to 80-90% savings from other outlets. Anytime we can reduce our medical costs is something we always want to investigate. My asawa had recently had an ultrasound and blood test done at a local healthcare clinic in Guimaras, and we discovered we were able to save a substantial sum by having the tests performed in our local province instead of taking the pump boat to Iloilo City and having the local hospitals perform the procedures. DSC

The cost of the medications needed to shrink a kidney stone discovered in the ultrasound for my asawa turned out to be 4,800 pesos(110 US Dollars) for half the prescription.

With our annual fiesta looming, my spouse did not want to spend the money on her needed medication but decided to wait until after the festivities to make the purchase. I did not agree with her, but she held firm. Unfortunately, before we made our return trip to Iloilo, my wife's favorite uncle in Guimaras passed away. Instead of using the money she had saved for the fiesta, she donated the money to her uncle's family for funeral expenses.

The Generics Pharmacy has 20 outlets in Iloilo City, and we found one next to a Chow King near the Mary Mart we occasionally frequent. Checked on the necessary medication for the kidney stone, but they did not have the generic equivalent.

My asawa decided to see if they carried the generic equivalent of high blood pressure tablets my mother-in-law, The Giant Lizard Killer, uses. They had one of the pills, at a reduction of 2 pesos from what my wife was paying at Mercury Drug. Well, that would help shrink our medical costs a bit since we order 30 of these tablets on a monthly basis. So at a overall savings of 60 pesos that would amount to about  1.38 in US Dollars. 

Now $1.38 might not seem like a huge chunk of money. Well, it isn't, but if you're on a fixed income (I have an retirement account investment from AT&T that we live on), any small savings we can find do add up.

While we will get reimbursed for the ultrasound and blood test my wife had done at the healthcare clinic in Guimaras, we were able to save over 40 dollars on the initial expense by having the procedures done in our local province. The medical facilities we went to were very reliable, and the technicians we encountered were friendly and professional.

Thanks again to Mindanao Bob for his suggestion, and we're definitely going to check out the other Generics Pharmacy outlets in Iloilo since the particular store we visited was quite small. The staff was helpful and friendly, but I think a larger outlet may offer us more choices. Anything we can do to reduce our medical costs is welcome, and I'll be sure to pass on any additional information that I find.

9 comments

  1. My only concern would be about the quality of some products. I remember watching a news show a few years ago about some generic drugs made in India and it was sort of scary as far as the counterfeiting going on and the poor oversight, lack of quality control, impurities, etc.

    1. Tony, “fake” drugs in the Philippines is a concern. I’ve seen various reports such as you’ve mentioned. However, I feel that The Generics Pharmacy outlets found throughout the Philippines is a trusted chain of drugstores. Mindanao Bob has been going to one outlet for years and purchasing medication as he has noted in a previous comment and has had no problems with them at all. That said, there are many unscrupulous outlets that will indeed sell you fake drugs. I think as long as you go with one of the established chains in the Philippines you hopefully should be ok. Thanks for the comment.

  2. Hi Dave,

    I had a plan to tell this story before but I was a bit worried it might sound negative or contradictory. I am a Filipino now so I am very sensitive haha! A few weeks ago myself and some of the riders in my group volunteered to help at a medical mission. We were assigned to give blood pressure tests so naturally we practiced on ourselves. The results indicated that we need to change our name to the High Blood Bikers. Yeah I know pretty catchy. I had been having migranes that would cause me to lay down on many afternoons so I found out the cause. I commited to getting checked out by a doctor and my suspicions were confirmed. The doctor prescribed a medication that worked pretty good but had a few side effects. I explained to the doctor during the follow up visit that I felt pretty good but in the morning I was dizzy and nauseous. There was also another side effect that made the doctor laugh. I told him that I felt great until I had to pay 78 pesos per tablet for the medication and then my blood pressure would shoot up and I would feel an uncomfortable lightness in my wallet. He said I could try another medication but he was only concerned about the first two complaints. I had the new prescription filled and tried it but it seems that the following day my blood pressure started climbing up again. I went to another pharmacy and asked for a stronger dose of the cheaper medicine. The pharmacist said it was the strongest already and inquired where I got it from. She said that it was a generic from India and that I should insist on branded medication. I tried the new pills at the same dosage and feel much better. I will not say all generics are bad but some definately are. Like Tony I saw the documentary showing how easy it is to buy generics and counterfit branded drugs in India that contain little or no active ingredients. I hope all goes well for you in your search for affordable drugs.

    1. First of all, Tom, I’ll publish most comments, especially those from trusted regulars like yourself. I won’t publish obvious spam (which is usually caught by my spam filter) or “attack” remarks that are just intended to pull someone down and generate controversy. OK, on to your remarks.

      My wife’s beloved uncle recently died. He had a stroke last year and another one about two months ago that left him paralyzed. It is my understanding that he wasn’t even using any blood pressure medicine after the last stroke because he could not afford it. We were not aware of that. My own mother-in-law had a stroke almost two years ago. She’s doing fine and takes blood pressure medicine from Mercury Drug in Iloilo. Evidently she’s getting some good stuff as her blood pressure is being held under control.

      There are certainly outlets in the Philippines that do sell fake drugs, and indeed, one has to be careful about certain generic drugs and where they originate from. I certainly do not want The Sainted Patient Wife to have some useless generic drug that is not going to shrink her kidney stone. Again, as I just remarked to Tony, Mindanao Bob has been using medications purchased from The Generics Pharmacy outlet for years without any problems. I’m glad you found some good medicine that is helping you. Wow! 78 pesos per tablet! I know how you feel. The pill that my asawa’s doctor prescribed which would help her absorb calcium costs 455 pesos per tablet (to be taken once a week.) We can’t afford that. She’ll just have to drink more milk and keep taking the Caltrate tablets. Thanks for sharing your story and take care, Tom.

      1. Dave,

        It’s sad and really a shame that your asawas uncle died just because he could not afford to buy high blood pressure meds. There should be some kind program for the elderly that makes needed meds available. Alot of the popular drugs here in the states are going generic due to the patent expiring on them, which makes them cheaper.

        1. My asawa pays 600 pesos (13.71 US Dollars) a month for her mother’s high blood pressure medicine, Papa Duck. If not for my wife, her Mother would not have the medicine. Even though we sent support to her mother on a monthly basis when we lived in the States, she did not spend the money for her high blood pressure condition and had a stroke two years ago just before we moved here. We now monitor her blood pressure and make sure she takes her daily medication. Unfortunately, her uncle did not have the same care.
          My wife does get a 20% Senior Discount to buy her mother’s medicine. I am not aware of any program for the elderly that provides needed medications, however.

  3. I keep my blood pressure under control with a simple pill that I get at Generics Pharmacy. Cost per pill? 1.7 pesos per pill. I take 2 per day for a total of 60 pills every 30 days. It is the same pill I took in the States.

    We have 2 Generics Pharmacy here in Tagum City. One of them has a doctor come in each Sat. morning for a free check ups. I like free. The other pharmacy is run by a doctor. Tell him what is wrong and he will tell you what you need. Not bad.

    Be well everyone.

  4. I go back to New Zealand once or twice a year. Being a pharmacist I have access to anything I want. If there is anything you need I could get it for you. I bring back a pile of medicines with me. I am the local neighbourhood doctor.

    1. Thanks much, Murray. I appreciate it. Let me know next time you plan to go back. I appreciate it. Looking forward to your return. Alan from Hawaii brought over a supply of ibuprofen for me and aspirin. He was hoping you would still be here when he returned. Thanks again for the offer, Murray. Take care.

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