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Are you able to get an antibiotic (e.g. Amoxicillin, common/general Antibiotics, etc.) from a pharmacy, with no doctor visit required, while traveling through the major cities in Russia?

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As others have already noted, formally many drugs are prescription-only. However, I never met a pharmacy that would insist on you showing prescription, though I buy something regularly (say, once or twice per month).

In 99% cases, the staff will ask nothing, and just hand over the drug needed. I remember only once being asked for prescription, and even then a simple "I forgot it" worked. The only cases when you might encounter some problems are if you raise suspicion (for example, the drug is really unusual), or if the drug it can be used to create some prohibited addiction/narcotic drug ("get high", as user28434 put it). The latter is because sale of such drugs is tightly controlled by narcotic/drug control police, but they are interested only in sale of some very specific drugs, not general antibiotics for example.

I mostly visit pharmacies in my home city, Nizhny Novgorod, so this may be specific to this city. However, several times I also have been buying drugs in other places, including large cities such as Moscow or St. Petersburg, medium-sized cities as Gelendzhik, and rural area of Kostroma oblast, and everywhere the attitude was the same.

  • Is this the norm across Russia, or is this more specific to certain cities? – user74177 Mar 4 '18 at 17:00
  • Also, how recent is this first hand experience you describe? e.g. when is the last time you experience what you described, buying a “prescription required” medication” at the pharmacy without having to show a prescription slip? – user74177 Mar 4 '18 at 17:09
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    @TonySnow, I've updated answer – Petr Mar 5 '18 at 6:49
  • +1 thank you for responding and answering all my question. Appreciated – user74177 Mar 6 '18 at 10:00
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De jure no drug is purchasable without medical prescription in Russia, because the law that listed such drugs was canceled in 2011.

But, de facto, pharmacy staff can decide if you can buy it without a prescription. So it depends; if the drug can be used to get high, or if you're buying it in huge quantities then you’re not likely to be able to obtain them.

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    "no drug": does that include things that are commonly available over the counter in other countries, such as acetaminophen/paracetamol or mild antihistamines? – phoog Mar 2 '18 at 14:07
  • Got it. I was discussing Amoxicillin which is commonly used for general bacterial infections such as strep throat, common cold, etc...definitely couldn’t get “high” and asking about it the first place to decide if my wife should see a Dr. here in the US, or wait till we get to Russia next week, as she’s “coming down” with a cold as we speak, but not “sick” at the moment, but quickly headed that direction. Thanks for your feedback. You’re appreciated! – user74177 Mar 2 '18 at 14:12
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    @TonySnow Amoxicillin may be used for common cold, but it has no more efficacy than a sugar pill for that. A friend of my grandfather was killed when he was lancing a patient's boil and stuck the needle in himself; overuse of antibiotics will return us to those times. – Martin Bonner supports Monica Mar 2 '18 at 14:21
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    @TonySnow, about 30%(approx) of all drugs will be available without prescription. But if it's on display, you can be sure it's doesn't require it. – user28434 Mar 2 '18 at 14:49
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    @TonySnow, and it's not really breaking the law, it's just a situation that law doesn't properly cover. There's actually law-in-development, that will allow selling non-prescriptive drugs in grocery stores, and I guess it will require to make list of those drugs again. – user28434 Mar 2 '18 at 14:50
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It really depends on drug you want to buy. For example, drugs containing Paracetamol, Aspirin, Analgin are most popular non-prescription ones so you will not have any problems to purchase it. Maybe that will be enough for you, and won’t need to buy the antibiotics for your wife.

However, drugs you've mentioned such as Amoxicillin are prescription only, and it can be a challenge for you to get that one. As @user28434 said, antibiotics can be purchased only with prescription, it's a law.

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