Prescription Medication in Israel
Prescription medications in Israel can oftentimes be different than in other countries. Whether planning a trip or sending a child for a Gap Year, understanding the availability of medication locally can help guide decision making and planning for health needs.
Here are 10 rules about prescription medication in Israel:
- Some medications are not available here. Medications in Israel must be approved through a lengthy bureaucratic and often political process. Some medications, deemed either unnecessary or too expensive, or too rarely needed – are simply not available.
- Medications may come in different doses. For example, thyroid medication is not available in 25mcg increments. This requires mild dosing adjustments, but can be initially frustrating for people who need these doses. Some medication available in long-acting forms may not be available in these forms in Israel. This can include blood pressure medication, seizure medications, and other critical medications. This can lead to serious medication issues for people who are in Israel and requires careful adjustment and monitoring.
- Generic prescription drug names are more common, and many brand names are different or unavailable. For example, Fosamax is called Fosalan in Israel. This is not such a big deal, but it can be confusing, especially for older adults transferring prescription medications to Israel.
- Some prescription medications must be prescribed by a specialist physician, as opposed to a family doctor or pediatrician. This can include some psychiatric medications, including some ADHD drugs, and biological medications.
- Some Over the Counter (OTC) medications require prescriptions here. This can include medications for yeast infections, heartburn, allergies, and topical preparations. Regulations are slowly loosening for this (emphasis on “slowly”).
- Prescription medications may be available in Israel that are not available in the US or Europe. Israel requires approval from either local authorities, the FDA (USA), or the European Medicines Agency (EMA – not related to EMA Care!).
- Most prescription medication cannot be obtained in increments on more than 1 month’s supply. In the US and elsewhere, you can usually get a 3-month prescription filled. In Israel, few medications can be filled with more than a 30-day supply… so you will need to make monthly trips to the pharmacy.
- Prescription medications are cheaper in Israel than they are in the US, because of government subsidies. Ironically, most OTC medications cost much more than in other countries. Obviously, if you pay a small copayment only, it will not be cheaper here for brand name drugs. This compares full cost to full cost. For example, many commonly prescribed medications cost 13nis only, or a bit over 3 US dollars.
- Medications are only available at pharmacies. In the US, you can get pharmaceuticals at supermarkets and even gas stations. In Israel, only pharmacies sell pharmaceuticals making it less convenient and a more tightly regulated market.
- Prescriptions must be written only by locally licensed physicians. Understandably, foreign prescriptions are not allowed in Israel. Israel does not give authority to nurse practitioners or physician assistants to write prescriptions freely, unlike dozens of other countries. EMA Care is hoping that this will change in the future.
If you have to bring in medication from abroad for your child or yourself
...there is a sometimes lengthy bureaucratic process. It can be done, but it can take some time. EMA Care has vast experience helping clients ship their prescription medication into Israel, and can help navigate the system. EMA Care recommends that you plan well in advance and that you have a backup plan in case things get tied up in shipping.
EMA Care professionals coordinate with your prescribers at home and physicians in Israel to assure that transition to local prescription medication is smooth. Managing medication is one of our specialties! We can also guide you in advance of any trip or visit to Israel regarding the availability of medication and alternative approaches, such as shipping your medication here. We can help order special medications here through pharmacies and assure that your dosing is as prescribed.
EMA Care is here to help navigate you or your child through the Israeli healthcare system. When you or your child is sick in Israel, you don’t have to be alone. Our professionals will advocate for you or your child to get the best care available.
EMA Care provides medical concierge, case management, and patient advocacy services to tourists, students and residents of Israel. We can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Schedule your free consultation today.