Mail Order Medications in the Philippines

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Mail order drugs to the Philippines?  So far we have had good luck.  We share our research and experiences. Like many older retirees everywhere, Bob takes several prescription and non-prescription medications daily.  Many of these are available at reasonable prices as generic medications at Philippine pharmacies.  Some brand name medications (such as Lipitor) are available at excellent prices because of Philippine government controls on the price of essential medications. However, one medication Bob must take, doxazosin, is very expensive in the Philippines. We have only been able to find it as very overpriced Pfizer version called Alfadil XL.  Each tablet costs P91.75, about $2.10.  Doxazosin is long out of patent and available from Costco in the U.S., about $.21.   So if Bob buys his doxazosin at Mercury Drug in the Philippines it will cost $760 per year.  If he can buy it as a generic, the would be about $75 per year, a really significant saving — and that’s  just one medication.

Since Bob has a Philippine prescription for doxazosin, in desperation, he decided to try a mail order pharmacy.  This was really an experiment to see if a Philippine prescription would be honored, if the medications would make it through Philippine customs without excessive fees, whether they would actually arrive and whether the quality was acceptable.

The Internet is full of highly dubious online drug stores. list lots of options.  Many of these purport to be Canadian pharmacies, but most drugs are shipped to you by various “affiliates” around the world.  I decided to try Canada Drugs require prescriptions and does sell any controlled drugs. Canada Drugs offers free shipping worldwide.  Bob placed a $150.00 order.  Some of Canada Drugs prescriptions are filled from the U.S.A., some from the UK and other countries.  Bob paid by credit card.  Canada Drug stated that the credit card would not be charged until the shipment actually shipped.  After Canada Drugs received our online order, they contacted us by email to fax my prescriptions to their Manitoba offices and to mail my prescriptions to the U.S.for the drugs which would be shipped from the U.S.  I did the mailing and faxing as directed.  After a couple of weeks they contacted me to say that the U.S.-based pharmacy would not honor a Philippine prescription.  They asked if it was OK to ship from the U. K.  I said yes, but it turned out that only 4mg doxazosin was available in the U.K. whereas 8mg doxazosin was available in the U.S. at about the same price.  In effect the cost doubled to $.60 per 8mg dose but was still much less — one-third the price in the Philippines.

We received notification that my order had been shipped on December 31.  The charges appeared on our credit card shortly thereafter. Now to see if the medications would actually arrive, when would they arrive and by what carrier.

The medications arrived in two packages at the friendly, tiny post office at Tigbauan, Iloilo on January 26th.  The prescription medications had been shipped from the U.K. by Royal Mail.  The non-prescription low-dose aspirin was shipped as first class mail through the U.S. Postal Service.   I had to pay P80 in customs duty, about $2.00.  The medications themselves were labeled with a UK address but seem to be marketed by the U.K. branches of Indian drug companies Wockhardt and Medreich.  This is not a special concern to me. There’s a good chance the  generic drugs we buy in the Philippines have their origin in China or India.  My genuine Pfizer Lipitor is made in Turkey.

There’s no escaping the globalization of the pharmaceutical industry.  A recent New York Times article said, “More than 80 percent of the active ingredients for drugs sold in the United States are made abroad — mostly in plants in China and India that are rarely inspected by the F.D.A. Half of all medical devices sold in the United States are made abroad. Many kinds of antibiotics, steroids, cancer medicines and even aspirin are no longer produced in the United States, or in many cases anywhere in the Western world….Many popular over-the-counter medicines and vitamins are made almost entirely in Chinese plants that the F.D.A. has never inspected. Domestic suppliers often maintain that they test their imported ingredients rigorously, but such sampling is akin to testing a bucket of soil from a mountain, then declaring the entire mountain free of pollutants.”  So the idea of avoiding foreign imports is a chimera.  Mainly, I want to be sure that we are buying the genuine product of a reputable Indian pharmaceutical company.

If your have more than a casual interest in the globalization of drug manufacturing and what it means to consumers, see “Protecting Consumers from the Risks of Substandard and Counterfeit Drugs” by the Pew Charitable trust.

****THIS IS NEW ARTICLE YOU SHOULD READ ABOUT PRESCRIPTION DRUG QUALITY is a website which evaluates online pharmacies. Since does not give its approval to any pharmacies outside of the U.S. and since U.S. pharmacies will not honor the prescriptions of Filipino physicians, is of limited value to those living outside of the U.S.  That said, a search of produced quite unflattering comments about As a foreign pharmacy, is unapproved but there is no derogatory comments.  We’d be much happier if we could order from Costco or another U.S. based pharmacy but evidently we can’t do that because we need a prescription from a U.S. doctor.  So, expats are pretty much consigned to the wild west world of online pharmacies. gives some background information.

Many of the listed online pharmacies say something vague about the origin of the generics they sell — something like “various generic suppliers”. Now we are buying almost all our medications from  Many of the  medications sold by are from the large Indian pharmas such as CIPLA and Intas.     Generally we’d prefer to buy generics from one of the large Indian firms rather than a Philippine generic.  We like the fact that the All Day Chemist website tells you who manufactures its drugs.

All Day Chemist does not accept credit cards.  You have to pay through your bank account (ACH) or by check.  We have placed two large orders with  them.  At first we were a bit dubious but now  we are 100% satisfied and just hope they stay in business and figure out a way to accept credit cards.  They cut our drug costs in half.  The drugs were as advertised and fresh. Shipping to our small Philippine post office is quite fast, but expensive at $25.    In one case they made the shipment even before they deposited our check.  They seem like decent people.  Drug costs in India are controlled by the government which seems intent on making sure drugs are affordable.  All Day Chemist allows us to take advantage of those lo Indian prices while living in the Philippines.

Mail order drugs from India

Mail order drugs from India received at my local post office

So, the story seems to have a happy ending.  We calculate that we can save about $800 per year buying two of my our medications by mail order.  The others we will continue to buy at Mercury Drug.  You really have to shop around.  Some drugs such as Lipitor are quite inexpensive in the Philippines.  You’d pay twice as much for it mail order.  Figuring in shipping charges and duty, only some medications are cheaper through mail order.  If you receive your shipment via PhilPost, you’ll have to make your own assessment of the reliability of you local post office.  Ours has been excellent.

One final recommendation — have your medications shipped to the Philippines by the postal service, not one of the private carriers such as FedEx, DHL etc.  That way you probably will be charged less duty.  It’s my understanding that customs duties are levied by the local customs office if the package comes through PhilPost, the Philippine postal service.  Shipments through the commercial carriers are processed by Philippine customs in Manila.  I am not sure if that is correct but I have received multiple shipments and I’m much happier with regular mail shipments.  My experience is that Manila customs is more aggressive, and in some cases unreasonable. One time they charged duty on my own forwarded mail!  Also, if you use FedEx et al. you’ll likely also be charged for the services of a customs broker.

Comments (16) Write a comment

  1. I noticed that you take Lipitor. I started taking Cayenne pepper and fish oil capsules and my doctor lowered my Lipitor prescription from 20mg daily to 10mg 5 days a week.

    I take the cayenne pepper mixed in tomato juice at breakfast and the fish oil capsules with each meal.

    If you start to try the cayenne pepper, I would suggest you start slowly and gradually build up the amount. I use 2-3 shakes from the bottle in a cup of juice.

    Hope this helps.


  2. Thanks for this informative article! I left home (Vancouver Canada) forgetting to bring enough Mavik (HBP). Now it seems I have to see a Doctor here in Dasmarinas, Cavite for a prescription and get enough meds for the next six month. Thanks again.
    BTW, discovered this sight looking for online pharmacy here in PI. No such thing I guess?


    • Donnie,

      I am not sure you will find trandolapril in the Philippines. You don’t need a prescription. Just write down the drug name and dosage and go to Mercury Drug to see if it’s available. If so they will sell it to you without a prescription. If not, you may have to go to a cardiologist for help to find an ACE inhibitor that is available in the Philippines. Many are. I take enalapril every day.

      Good luck!


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  8. Hello Robert

    One of my doctors (here in USA) recommended Global Pharmacy Canada for medications. The drug are sent from India and the most you can get is a ninety-day supply. I have not used this service, but you might want to investigate it. Robert


  9. Buying drugs from online pharmacies.

    I have bought drugs from online pharmacy in the past. They get good internet reviews and appear to be one of the most popular online pharmacies. They supply Doxozosin. My only problem was that I began to receive a lot of spam emails after I ordered from them – not for probucts associated with them. Hopefully this doesn’t happen anymore. I have been reluctant up to now to trust the Philippine postal service. But I may give it one try and hope for the best.
    Would appreciate any relevant comments/feedback.


    • Hi Edgar,

      We have had excellent luck with the Iloilo area post offices. But, when my wife lived in Lucena City, things did not get through. Maybe it’s better now. I hear that customs duties are less going through the postal service than using DHL or FedEx. What’s your experience with that?

      Bob and Carol


  10. nice to hear that bob still there. been to long. been waiting for him to post last jan. was he sick? tnx.


  11. always great to know, Friend…stay as healthy as you can!! we are trying hard to avoid broken bones as we traverse icy streets here. never forget the sound of scraping ice from winshields and windows…the sound of snowplows and salt spreaders, snowblowers, and pf the lowly shovels on pavements…that will make Tigbauan more of your heaven on earth…


  12. Hi Carol,

    thanks for that informative update. I am currently spending a bit more than I want yo on some maintenance drugs, but not nearly as bad as it might be, so I have been lazy about seeking more sources. I’m sure this article will be a big help to many.


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