You have decided to make your Aliyah and currently take prescription medications. How can you continue with your medication regimen in Israel? How can you ensure that your medications are available in Israel and how do you communicate the need for these medications to your new Israeli Family Physician? This is a major stressor to anyone who moves internationally. In this article we are going to provide details about how you should prepare for your Aliyah with regards to transferring your prescriptions into the Israeli medical system, how much to bring with you, information to carry when traveling, and what to expect from Israeli pharmacies.
Issues With Medication
If you regularly take any medication, over the counter (OTC) or prescribed, we recommend consulting with a doctor and/or pharmacist as soon as possible after arriving in Israel. Some of the medications you currently take might have a different name, and in some cases, the medication may not be available at all in Israel. If your medication is not available in Israel there most likely is an alternative. It will make the process smoother if you can present your current prescriptions and why you take these medications. Here is a website where you can look up if your brand of medication is available in Israel, www.drugs.com/internationalType the medication name of your choice. Here's an example drug page for the search term ibuprofen. On it you can see the brand, generic, foreign brand names, etc.
We recommend you plan ahead and bring enough to last you until you can get seen by an Israeli doctor, especially for any medications that require a prescription. If your medications are critical to your health, we would recommend trying to arrange an appointment to see a doctor in your new town/city even before your Aliyah date. Things can sometimes move a little slow in Israel, and it might take a few weeks to get in to see a local doctor, especially in busy areas.
Medications are strictly regulated all over the world, and from country to country, the rules can be different for certain drug classes. Where you might not have needed a prescription before, you might now, or vice versa. Or to get the desired dosage of a medication, you might find that you'll need a prescription in Israel, and you didn't before. It may not be too common a scenario, but it's good to know what you'll need ahead of time. An example of this difference is regarding Metformin. The typical dose in the United States is 500mg, in Israel Metformin is only available in a dose of 850mg.
Due to Israeli regulations, pharmacies are only allowed to accept a prescription from a registered Israeli provider. So, bringing a prescription from your physician who is not registered in Israel will not help. This is another really good reason to set yourself up with a local Family Physician soon after arriving in Israel.
If you're moving from the United States to Israel, you will notice that supermarkets carry far less over-the-counter medications than would find in a supermarket back home. We are not sure why this is but our guess is that is likely due to regulations about what types of medications they can sell, or what can be readily on display on their shelves.