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Western pharmaceuticals/hospitals in China -- pls share your experiences & knowledge


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Western Medicine in China / medical supplies

(I thought it would be good to have this info all in one thread)

Has anyone been to a Chinese or Western hospital -- What was it like?

What Western Medicine is available? -- I mean pharmaceuticals

Where can you get it?

How much does it usually cost?

If people could name specific medicines they have taken that would be great

Do know of any "western medicine" that is possibly dangerous, substandard?

(maybe some of the medical companies claim that medicines here are substandard just

to justify over-pricing meds in the west)

Anyone taken anything and had really bad side effects?

What happens if someone gets hit by a car in Beijing?

(a westerner, a chinese person)

Someone told me there are private Ambulances who try and get to the richest looking person -- is this true???

If one of my Western friends got hit by a car or had a medical emergency I have no idea what to do.

My Limited Knowledge

You can buy Tylenol for relief of cough symptoms by johnson & johnson

Anti-biotics --- 44 yuan (I have to find the packet and tell you the name later)

My friend googled them and there was info in English on the net

I bought these from the big Chinese Medicine chemist/pharmacy opposite

Tsinghua Science park. No prescription needed.

I have been told you can buy Aspirin

A friend was sick and went to the hospital (with her Chinese boyfriend) and they gave her anti-biotics via a drip. Another friend told me that this is not necessarily more effective. She said that the hospitals really want to make money so they will over treat you.

There are a list of Western Hospitals in the Beijing Insiders guide.

I need to ask my Chinese friends and get back to you ---- but any information would be greatly appreciated

It would be nice to have this information readily available.

I have had a few medical problems lately and it has been a real

pain when I feel deathly ill trying to search for information, find a chemist (pharmacy), ring Western Hospitals (where sometimes the secretary has worse English than my Chinese and my Chinese is pretty bad). Normally I love this - opportunity to speak Chinese!! but when I am ill - I just want things to be easy

Luckily I have not had to see any Western doctors (expensive) I have just bought meds over the counter

BTW if anyone knows the Chinese names for some of the Western Medicines it would be great to have them listed here in pinyin and hanzi!!!!!!!!!

If I get time I will compile a list

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I've been to hospital few times in Tianjin, quite nice for an hospital, it is probably quite new building since it looks still clean and nice, except x-ray, which is in a dimly lit concrete bunker :)

I've seen both chinese medicine and western medicine doctors there, can't really tell what the difference is, except chinese medicine doctor is giving advice on eating too ;)

The service is quite quick and good, but nobody speaks english. Have gotten medicine few times from the doctors, usually western medicine and some chinese medicine to go with it, regardless of which kind of doctor i was seeing..

Also I have once gone to chinese hospital beijing, and for a western eyes

it looked quite "different"... But again service was quick, seemed to be professional

and they didn't even ask me for 10rmb deposit for the thermometer ;)

So better not judge book by its cover :)

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I have been told you can buy Aspirin

Have you bought it? I tried a number of shops and couldn't find aspirin. Certainly not a language problem. They seem to have only Paracetamol.

Before I get flamed here, I ONLY want to hear from people that actually bought Aspirin. NO hearsay accepted! I think I checked 10 or so places.

Western hospital tend to be very expensive, and better bring cash, as you know, in this society it's money first, or you die on their doorstep.

You should check with other expats in your area about the feedback on certain clinics.

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yippee, i got to do both this week. woke up last week with an itchy eyeball, and a look in

the mirror found a blister in the sclera near the tear ducty thingy. called the canadian-

chinese joint-venture hospital, but their specialist was only in wednesday morning. decided to brave a chinese hospital, just to see if this was something serious.

so a friend and i wandered over to the humanities hospital four blocks from home. being

saturday their specialist was not in, but the seat-warmer in the "exterior sensors" room

took a look and pronounced “我也不知道” and recommended another hospital with a large

opthomology department.

sorry, it's saturday and we're closed. come back monday. well, it don't hurt, and no

vision problems, so we'll just have to wait.

after standing in the surprisingly short line, paid the 3.50 registration fee, plus the 1 kuai

fee for the patient booklet, and headed up to the circus on the third floor. half the city

seemed to be lounging in the halls, along with their friends and relatives, and if i'm not

mistaken, a few loose poultry. so now we got to pick our favorite doctor from the

bulletin board, and pay the 10 kuai fee for the visit, which would allow us to get in one of

the lines spaced throughout the hallway for the vision check. i guess most folks were

bored, judging by the excitement of watching a furr'ner pointing out which way the

mountain was leaning.

and now we can get in line for the examination. yay! i'm number 25, and they're already

up to 12! unfortunately the doctor is not in, and they don't know when he might be back.

left the hospital for some window-shopping, returning two hours later to find that, yes, the

doctor is in, and they're already up to number 13!!!! number 13 seems to be taking quite

a while, perhaps due to the dozen or so relatives and floor-cleaners that all want to help

the doctor make his diagnosis. enough of this, as i'm not sure they'll get to me before


wednesday morning hit the western hospital at 8am, whereupon my 'personal shopper'

met me to help fill out the forms, pay the 245 kuai registration, and whisk me upstairs to

see two whole doctors, one with good english, the other so-so. the exam quickly found

that i had 琳把液管堵塞 which caused a bubble to form. nothing serious, but (no pun

intended) unsightly. why, we can lance that little bugger right here, right now. and a

few minutes later all done. was let go after paying an additional fee of 30 kuai, 20 for

a bottle of antibiotic eyedrops and 10 for miscellaneous materials.


in other news, aspirin is available at most of the pharmacies, but the pills all seem to

be 0.25mg, 100/bottle. which is only a couple doses, as i'm used to taking a handful

of 125mg pills from the local rite-aid back home. i can scan and post a photo of the

box if needed.

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I think it depends on where you live. I live in Beijing and the Western Hospitals are all top notch. (Actually better than the clinics I've visited in the US).

They have access to most medicines and although the packaging looks different the medicine seems to be the same.

I have heard that if you get a tropical disease the best care in the world is in HongKong.

The top ones in the 'Jing are Beijing United Family and the SOS clinic. I have no experience with the others but have heard they are good as well.

Hope this helps.

Mao Zhou

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I too have seen aspirin and even bought it from chinese pharmacy, it was the tablets you put in water and drink, can't remember how strong it was though..

But box looked exactly like the ones i've seen in western pharmacies, except it had lot of chinese text.

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  • 2 months later...

I am interested in knowing what are the best and safest pharmacies to visit? I used to go to one that was cattycorner from the Lotus Center in Wudaokou, right off of Chengfu lu... but I don't think it was very comprehensive for western medicine...

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You used to be able to buy aspirin by the bottle but I guess the gov't thought people were trying to commit suicide with aspirin, unhunh, so now you buy it per pill for at times one yuan each.

A word about medicine in China; remember you are in China. I have lived in China off and on for more than 20 years; I translated Chinese medical literature. The last year I was there my eye began to bother me; I was loosing my sight in one eye. I had insurance and went to the hospital, and saw a opthamologist for several months who diagnosed it as retinitis. It didn't get any better.

I returned to the U.S. went to first and optometrist and then an opthamologist who both told me I had a suborbital posterior cataract. Had it operated and now can read the small print on a coke can from across the street.

You know what scares me? That Chinese opthamologist operates on people at Fudan University Eye Nose and Throat Hospital. Hummm

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yikes!!!!!!!!! i'm very happy to hear you went back to the US to have it taken care of (and of course that your problem was treatable).

20 years in China - you must have seen / seeing so much.

acupuncter - i'm assuming you are either a practioner or a fan of acupuncture... do you have a favorite place to go in beijing or can recommend a doctor or anything acupuncture related?

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I just bought some aspirin with no trouble. 100 25mg tabs for 3 yuan. Just gotta ask for 阿司匹林.

The problem with buying western medicine is often just knowing the Chinese names. I spent an incredibly frustrating day last year in Chengdu wandering from pharmacy to pharmacy with a Chinese friend trying to find something for hay fever. All they would point to when I insisted on western medicine were a bunch of antibiotics. I've recently learned that Zyrtec is widely available - or at least is here in Kunming.

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They may have some old bottles around where you are at, but 25mg(?). That would take 10 pills to equal one normal Western pill. Trust me, I know how to say aspirin in Chinese, I used to translate medical literature. The pharmaceutical companies are getting the message that they can make a killing on everyday medication.

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I've bought Aspirin in Hangzhou, and it was also 25 mg. Have to take it by the handful to get rid of a headache. Before I found it I asked my Chinese co-workers about finding pain killers, didn't speak any Chinese back then and so didn't know how to say 止痛. They gave me a look like I was a crazed drug addict, and said I'd need a prescription for something like that.

I don't trust Chinese doctors as far as I can throw them. My French friend's Chinese wife was a nurse for a while, and even she was prescribed fake antibiotics. They give them out like candy, and doctors get kickbacks from pharmaceutical companies. I remember seeing Chinese coworkers with a cold coming back from the hospital with a bag of medicine, totaling more than 100 RMB. Most Chinese don't know there is no cure for the common cold, and the best you can hope for is a suppression of symptoms.

I only go to the hospital if it's life threatening situation.

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