What are Vietnamese laws on prescription drugs like adderall or ritalin? Is it available, how does one go about getting a prescription. I have been off mine for a little but need a refill for some days i need the extra focus. Do the street pharmacies carry anything that would be an equivalent?
No prescriptions needed, but some western/imported/quality drugs you might have a difficult time finding. Find out the generic name of whatever drug you're looking for (online) and/or other names it might be sold under in different countries. Then ask around in different pharmacies. There's a pharmacy on the corner of Hang Trong and Hang Gai in Hoan Kiem. I've gotten some of the 'rarer" medicines there before - you can ask. Also you can try pharmacy street Ngoc Khanh or really any pharmacies around Hoan Kiem.
If no luck - you might have to go to one of the western clinics, see a doctor and have them get the meds for you. I've luckily never needed to do that, but you should expect it to cost you a lot.
From what I understand you cannot get any of the ADD/ADHD medications I.E. Adderall, Ritalin, Concerta. The doctors at the "international" clinics and hospitals will give you a prescription for it, but no pharmacies actually carry the medication. Last time I went home I had to do my best to stockpile what I could. Many of the other SE Asian countries either don't have or legally don't allow the sale of these medications, so if you are super desperate I'd consider seeing what the situation is in a place like Singapore where they have a better understanding of "western medicine."
According to a famous* child psychologist I know, in Vietnam the amphetamine-based ADHD medications are on a ban list that more or less puts them on a par with narcotics. This psych was trying to help the parents of a needy young patient source dexamphetamine, but after jumping through the standard medical hoops you'd expect to face back home, discovered the above fact. Which means that it's simply not available - not from hospitals, western clinics or even dodgy pharmacies that might be willing to sell you other medication that you definitely can't buy over the counter back home. So, regardless of whether you have a prescription or not, you can't get Adderall etc here through legal or even grey channels. It's pretty much illegal and will have to be obtained outside of Vietnam, unfortunately.
*famous for drinking, mostly
I have some new information on this topic. ADHD meds are available in Bangkok by prescription. Google 'Bangkok ADHD treatment' and you'll find clinics and hospitals, including Bumrungrad, with clinical psychologists, psychotherapists and physicians on staff who have experience diagnosing and treating ADHD. You can get more than one months supply of medication at a time - the amount is up to the MDs discretion. This isn't an ideal solution, but better than none at all. Below is a blog with a list of psychotherapists who have been practicing in Bangkok for quite some time. The therapist can refer you to a physician who can prescribe either Ritalin, Concerta or Strattera.
I live in Australia but visit my son and family in Hanoi every year.
My son is an epileptic and cannot get his medication in Vn so he visits Australia every year to get an annual supply from his doctor in Brisbane, consequently he takes bulk medications back to Hanoi and has never been questioned about taking medication (drugs) out of Australia and into Vn.
I will mention the hospital in Thailand but I am sure he has checked it out.
I can't comment on the legality of bringing in six months of medication, but I've never had my bags searched when going through customs. One time I had several months of malaria pills (for a trip I was planning) hundreds of painkillers, months of birth control, antihistamines, things for stomach problems - basically an entire pharmacy in my bag, probably close to 1000 pills (over prepared of course, have barely touched anything in the time i've been here) and I am sure that would show on an X-ray if they were to screen my bag somehow, but I have never been stopped and searched in maybe half a dozen trips through the customs area. In fact, I've never seen them search anyone... ever!
I say risk it, there's a good likelihood you'll get them through with no hassles. But if you do get stopped a little nudge under the table with a doctor's note and a few other notes will probably help you out.
In terms of birth control, they definitely sell lots of sorts but you might not find your exact brand here. You can ask your doctor at home for a list of ones that they think will work for you (with their generic name and chemicals contained attached) and hope that you can find one. your other options are to bring a big supply to last you your time here or you can consider going a longer-term option like IUD or implanon, which is what I did. Remember to bring tampons if you use them! Pads are easy to find but tampons are expensive (like really really expensive) and not what I was used to from home.
I wouldn't worry about it. Just make sure you keep the prescription with the physician's signature and pharmacy receipt with the medication. Make sure they're dated. Also, make sure all names and contact information for both are easy to read. If there is ever a question, then the contact information is easily available to any official for confirmation. I also take photos of them and email them to myself as a backup.
There are quite a few foreign children and adults living in Vietnam who need medications not available here, including medications for ADHD such as Ritalin. It's common for them to go to Singapore, Bangkok or back to their home country to buy these medications and then fly them back into Vietnam. This has been the common practice for decades.
I've spoken with doctors and a psychiatrist (you might want to do this yourself) who practice in Hanoi and been informed that this is what people do and that there's no other alternative.
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