If you should need a refill on medication or any type of medicine, you should check with the local pharmacies. Costa Rica has a wide network of regulated pharmacies, all over the country.
Convenience stores usually sell aspirin and basic pain/cold medications, but that's about it. Be wary of any convenience store or practitioner claiming to have specialized medications, or injectable medications, unless they meet formal requirements described below.
Regulated pharmacies are registered with the Ministry of Health, and use the term "Pharmacy" in their name. They have to meet the following requirements:
- A special permit from the Ministry of Health for pharmacies. This has to be displayed in a visible location in the main area.
- A permit from the Ministry of Health for commerce, also known as "Sanitation permit". Also has to be displayed in a visible location.
- Pharmacies must have a registered pharmacist on duty at all times, known as a "regent".
- The pharmacy must be clean, meet basic hygenic requirements, and have a closed-off area for injectable medications. They must have cold storage for mediations requiring it.
Fischel is a well known pharmaceutical store, located all over the country. Their prices, unfortunately, are pretty high for the most part. The rest of the pharmacies in the country are for the most part independent, and have no real branding. Wal Mart offers pharmacies in their supermarkets, mainly in Wal Mart and Mas X Menos.
For low prices on medications and prescriptions, there's no place like Farmacia La Bomba . This is a very well known, small pharmacy, that sells medications at low prices. Their main store in San Pedro is located at a gas station next to the Outlet Mall, and is packed most of the day. The best way to go if you want to shop here, is to call by phone and have them ready your medications. An hour later, you can pick them up using a serial number at the counter.
If you have special medications prescribed back in your country, you should bring a supply that'll last for at least the time you're going to be here. Maybe a week or two more if possible. Why? Many people bring only the amount of medication they need with them. Their bags are lost, or they get wet, and there goes your supply of medication. Or somewhere near the end of their stay they have an accident, and need to be hospitalized... and realize they only have medication to get them through to their original departure date.
You should bring a copy of the informational leaflets that come with your medication, or the box they came in. Many times you can find the same medication here, but under another name. Or there's an equivalent medication. But that can only be determined by looking through the original's information.
Most medications are over-the-counter here, including many prescription drugs. The only ones you're going to need a prescription for are antibiotics and strong narcotics (i.e. morphine derivatives). In these cases the pharmacy may require you to get a prescription from a local doctor, and will keep the prescription once you make the purchase.
If you have a prescription for medicinal marijuana, well, you're pretty much on your own. Customs probably isn't going to let you pass it at the airport and there's no pharmacies here that sell it. But then again, if you have a prescription for medicinal marijuana, you're probably no stranger to these kinds of situations and already have a solution figured out.