The IsraelPharm online pharmacy has an “ask the pharmacist” function. It always attracts a lot of attention, so we thought we would put together a list of top 10 questions that we’re asked at the online pharmacy and how our managing pharmacist Saul Kaye answers them. Ordering your prescriptions online for the first time can be daunting and many have questions about new medications. Our customers, new and returning, are reassured by Saul’s fast and personal responses. Some questions relate to the type of medication and some relate to ordering online and from Israel. We hope the below Q&A’s put your mind at ease and if you have anything else to add please comment on this post and we’ll be happy to answer…. or send an email to directly to email@example.com!
1. Can a tablet be split / halved / cut ?
- I understand there is a cost saving benefit when cutting a high dose tablet in 2 or 4 to get the correct lower dose, however this option is dependent on the tablet. In my opinion it is also dependent on the cost saving involved. Scored tablets are generally safe to cut or split but it is always best to ask me before you start doing this so I can check if it is possible. Together, we will evaluate if the cost saving is worth the inaccuracy of splitting the dose.
2. Is the medication the same as the one I get in my country?
- Medications in different countries can have different names but they are often the exact same medicine, branded with a different name. A good example of this at our online pharmacy is Advair. Advair is made by GSK in the UK and is branded as Advair for the North American market. In Israel and Europe it is branded as Seretide (both are made by GSK in the same plant in the UK)
3. Why does my tablet look different to the one I am used to?
- I get asked this all the time, the best example is Nexium. In the US Nexium is a purple capsule while in Israel and Europe it is a Pink caplet. The active ingredients are identical and they are both manufactured by Astra Zenica. I do not know why they choose to make two different identical medications called the same, manufactured by the same company but look different. We have hundreds of Nexium customers at our online pharmacy and they tell me it is identical in its action as well.
4. My son/daughter is learning in Israel for the year – how can they get medications abroad?
- This is a common question I get from both travelers and parents of students that are studying here for a period of time. While most travelers have insurance, parents are concerned that their loved ones get the same medication they are used to taking. Feel free to email me and I will look it up. You should be aware that the law in Israel requires the pharmacy to dispense on the original prescription written by a licensed Israeli physician.
5. I am making Aliya and I want to know if a medication is available in Israel?
- The most common prescription drug I get asked this about is Adderral / Ritalin / Concerta, these are used to treat ADHD and ADD. In Israel these are controlled medications and are available only to local residents. International customers cannot order online. They require a prescription in duplicate from a licensed Israeli doctor.
6. What is the maximum quantity I can order on the internet?
- The FDA allows for the import of medications provided they are reasonable quantities for personal use and not commercial use. Generally the online pharmacy recommendation is to order up to a 3 month supply.
7. Are all medications in Israel Kosher? What happens at Pesach/Passover?
This is a hard one – generally I refrain from offering halachic opinions but here are the rules
- Any prescription medication does not need to be kosher as it is considered pikuach nefesh (life saving)
- Flavoured products generally need a hechsher but not if they have been prescribed by a doctor or pharmacist – even if they are over the counter.
- Vitamins should carry a hechsher – but there are many opinions that if the tablet is swallowed whole then it can be permissible to take one that does not have a kosher symbol.
- We are more stringent on Passover because we are dealing with chametz (levened products) as well as kashrut. It is advisable to ask your pharmacist. Every year there is a list put out by the Badatz Eida Haredit organization and Kupat Cholim that list which medications are kosher for Passover
- In general all eye drops, suppositories, medical creams, ointments, , inhalations, pessaries, and non oral medications are permitted. Ask me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I am happy to let you know.
8. How safe are drugs from Israel?
- Israel has a very stringent drug approval process similar to the FDA, Europe, and Australia. Drugs that have been approved for sale by the Ministry of Health are safe to use and recalls, labeling, instructions etc are rigorously monitored.
9. What is the difference between generic and Brand?
- Brand medication is the first version to make it to market and is protected by patents for a number of years. When the patent ends many other manufacturers jump on board and start producing the same mediation under a new name – this is a generic. Generally generics are cheaper than brand but in Israel since the price of medications is set by the Ministry of Health per drug molecule – there is no price advantage to buying a generic. The Kupat Cholim will generally prescribe the one that gives them the cheapest price. Certain medications like Lamictal and Tegretol (a drug used for epilepsy and depression) should not be interchanged between brand and generic so as not to adversely affect the blood levels achieved.
10. Why are Israeli medication prices cheaper than the rest of the world?
- Prescription drug prices are regulated in Israel by the Ministry of Health as they are in Australia, England and other national health countries. This is because ultimately the government is paying the health fund for medications – so it is in the governments’ interest to keep drug prices low.
IsraelPharm is a professional and specialist online pharmacy that allows you to buy prescription medication online at a fraction of the price, based on US prices.