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I have a couple of prescriptions dating back years, and I would like to buy more of the same in Phnom Penh if possible.
Generic Zoloft (sertraline)
Zoloft is just an anti-depressant a la Prozac - will this be available in PP pharmacies?
Ritalin I would expect to be a lot harder to get hold of, since it's a controlled drug in most countries. Would I need to visit a hospital or doctor to get hold of this? If the police catch me with prescription or non-prescription Ritalin, will I be spending my remaining years in a hell-hole Cambodian prison?
Would also be interested to know about the legal status and availability of Valium and Xanax.
The first 2: NO
The last 2: YES (over the counter)
I'm a Dutch psychiatrist and I work at Sunrise Mental Clinic, #112, St. 432 in Phnom Penh (mobile 090697106)
You can probably buy Zoloft (sertraline), Valium, Xanax without prescription at Pharmacie de la Gare or U-Care Pharmacie. If they don't have it, you can buy them in my clinic.
Ritaline, Concerta, Strattera etc are NOT AVAILABLE in Cambodia. You can buy Ritaline or Concerta at Bungrumrad International Hospital in Bangkok but only with a prescription. I could write a prescription for you.
If you have a prescription and a letter of a doctor/psychiatrist you will not end up in trouble in Cambodia if you bring it into the country.
Thanks, very helpful info.
The psychiatrist at Bangkok Hospital (Phuket) prescribes me with Ritalin now, it isn't cheap though. Once I've been in Phnom Penh for a couple of days I will give you a call Benvanden - thanks for the heads up.
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The whole Ritalin/Adderall thing has come up a bunch of times here with people I know, enough times in fact that I looked into all of it at one point so as to have an explanation for my ADD friends, but it turns out it's too long for any of them to sit through or read when they haven't had their Ritalin so catch-22 I guess.
I learned the other day that in Cambodia there is a government owned company, run by the Ministry of Health, called Cambodian Pharmaceutical Enterprise. In addition to antibiotics and tylenol, they are allowed to manufacture certain drugs with a broader appeal. They don't make narcotics, but they do make some psychotropics. Like ... you guessed it ... Diazepam.
So at least a portion of that cheap and abundant valium, that half of Phnom Penh can't seem to function without, is being supplied to you by the Cambodian Ministry of Health. They have a list of things on their website that they make, but the only drugs with real abuse potential that they manufacture are: Diazepam and Phenobarbitol.
If that company had gone into the Ritalin business, maybe you'd find it in every shop, 30 for a dollar, just like the Valium.
Private companies can engage in the manufacture of psychotropic substances deemed less harmful (listed on "Table 2" and "Table 3," like the Drug Schedule in America) but only if they receive a special permit from the Ministry of Health. Interestingly enough, amphetamine and dexamphetamine (the two ingredients in Adderall) and methylphenidate (Ritalin is the brand, that's the chemical) are both on Table 2 ... So technically permits could be issued for their manufacture within Cambodia. It seems unlikely that any private companies here have been making methylphenidate or dexamphetamine/amphetamine pills to date because those drugs are much sought after by hyperactive westerners --- who are much vexed by their absence hereabouts.
And strangely enough, methamphetamine is also on Table 2, despite it not having much medical application these days beyond countering rare (and absurd) conditions like narcolepsy. The fact that a permit can be issued for its manufacture might not be relevant to the illegal laboratories in terms of their gaining protection from being fraudulently sanctioned by license, but it's possible that something like that could create a bureaucratic loophole that allows for the importation of certain chemicals or precursors necessary for manufacturing.
Here's where the bottleneck comes in: While it is possible that companies within Cambodia could apply for and be approved to manufacture amphetamine/dexamphetamine/methylphenidate --- the importation of those substances is listed as PROHIBITED. Banned, no exceptions, if you're a private company or individual, along with all kinds of things such as antiques more than 100 years old, cars with right-hand driver's seats, and used tires. Look up Bureau Veritas, they have a list for every country.
Private companies, both Cambodian and foreign owned, are banned from both the manufacture of AND the importation of all narcotics. Where do the pain pills come from then? The Ministry of Health along with Finance/Commerce (who write and enforce the rules) handles the (legal) importation of all the blacklisted psychotropics and all the narcotics for distribution to hospitals, doctors ... pharmacies ...
Cambodia's drug importation laws (what's written down anyways, never mind what's enforced or not or how often they are broken) are partly drawn from WTO and ASEAN conventions, where they had to adopt certain measures in order to be considered or accepted as members. A lot of the more obvious stuff goes back to a 1971 law with Table 1, Table 2 etcetera just like the narcotics schedule 1, schedule 2 in America. They apparently decided to keep or re-enact that legislation despite the loss of continuity of government later in the decade. 1973 was the year the DEA was formed, and thus commenced the "War on Drugs." So a place like Cambodia drawing up a list of banned substances when they had civil strife and war raging all around them, not to mention bombs falling on them, was just a sign of the times I guess.
Anyways, all of you ADD people should see if you can schmooze with some higher-ups at the Ministry of Heath and try to convince them that the therapeutic (and financial) benefits of making Ritalin available in Cambodia are such that it's the right thing to do and it's best that it's done right away. Or you could get in good with the Ministry of Commerce, see if they've ever thought of easing those restrictions on one or two small, trifling items ... Good luck.
PS: Incidentally, the "legal kind" of drugs are the most widely abused in America today and account for more deaths by overdose than all of the strictly "illegal" ones combined. Not being a law & order man myself I find the distinction to be of a practical concern but I don't see much substantive difference beyond that. Every girl I've ever dated who was ADD or ADHD (diagnosed by a doctor, whatever that's worth) and thus they were taking Ritalin or Adderall, were all FAR more concerned about the weight they might gain if they stopped taking it than whatever cognitive troubles they would have had. Everybody has their reasons, I guess. Ain't no thing.
How much art can you take?
BUT it is a comprehensive answer covering the issue in full. From now on, people who are coming to Cambodia who have ADD/ADHD will get that in their Google results and it won't be vague. And once they are here, they won't have to wonder why some drugs with abuse potential are OTC but others are banned.
Adderall and Ritalin are banned for importation to Cambodia by all private companies or individuals. The government does not currently import those drugs for distribution to hospitals or clinics. No company that I'm aware of here currently manufactures those drugs (amphetamine/dexamphetamine or methylphenidate.)
You can possess those drugs legally if you have a prescription. They can be obtained with a prescription (at some expense) in Bangkok.
(Above: Lengthy version with various other details and a possible explanation for why some things are OTC and cheap and abundant while others are banned.)
There you go.
How much art can you take?
Hello everyone, first post here but been lurking around for many years. Now i have actually something to ask and since we even have a MD in this thread I would really appreciate if he would answer too
So, I got prescription for the following medication, which i take and have taken for years, daily. So it's quite big issue and since my arrival to Cambodia is inevitable I'd like to clear this matter.
As far as i know I can take 3 months supply to Thailand, I havent confirmed the custom situation for Cambodia yet. I got all legal so i can get whatever documentation needed back home.
I'd like to know 2 things.
1) Is it legal to carry quite heavy amount of all of them thru the customs to Cambodia. (Probably thru red line)
2) Can i buy those there and under what brand name, mainly I am concerned with moclobemid (would prefer Aurorix brand)
You know, worse case scenario, all your stuffs MIA and shit happens and you loose the meds, I have to be certain they can be bought over there too, they are not the kind of drugs I can just stop taking like that.
Anyway, been pleasure reading the board so far and i hope i can contribute to the answering side of things in very near future, thanks for reading.
I'm sorry to tell you but Zopiclone, Oxazepam and Mocoblemide (Aurorix) ARE NOT AVAILABLE in Cambodia.
The only sleeping tablets you can buy here are Stilnoct or Diazepam.
Available tranquillizers are Alprazolam 0.5mg (Axprazo 0.5mg), Alprazolam 0.25mg (Pharnax 0.25mg), Diazepam 5mg and Lorazepam 2mg (Merlopam 2mg).
MAO inhibitors are not available. Available are Fluoxetine, Paroxetine, Sertraline, Venlafaxine, Amitriptyline, Perphenazine, Citolopram and Escitolopram.
It is legal to carry for personal use a quite heavy amount of all of them thru the customs to Cambodia. But you need a prescription and preferable is also a letter or medical report of a doctor or psychiatrist.
Thank you very much for your answer BenvandenBussche.
I'll start looking into the situation for neighboring countries, I would really prefer not to fly them over from Europe. I'm gonna stay a while so I will need a fresh suplly of all of them. I guess with Thailand i have my best chances. I knew some of them might hard to find, but i had no idea there are none of them available in Cambodia. I guess i gotta do some "squirreling" and spread them around a bit, atleast enough to survive for a small trip to whatever asian country has them
So, in conclusion as of 2013, in short neither (dextro)amphetamine- nor methylphenidate are available even with a prescription. Is that correct?
On another note, does anyone know whether modafinil e.g. Provigil is available anywhere OTC in Phnom Penh?
As of now, correct. I've tried to no avail, so it's massive amounts of caffeine for me all day.
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