I'm going on a long visit to Sri Lanka. I have a medical condition that may require me to take ibuprofen frequently.

A Sri Lankan told me the following on Reddit:

There's a shortage of medicine due to import limitations caused by the forex crisis, so I would recommend bringing a stock of any medication you may need (especially anti-allergy meds).

Is ibuprofen readily available in Sri Lankan pharmacies, or should I bring enough for my entire stay?

  • How long is that "long visit"?
    – jcaron
    Commented Jan 2, 2023 at 10:37
  • From my experience of similar countries in Asia, they usually have their own version of an over-the-counter Nurophen-like product (though it probably won't contain ibuprofen), but it can be difficult to spot at a small shop when the ingredients aren't in english. Overall these pain killers aren't popular in many countries as people tend to believe (incorrectly) they don't work due to local customs. Definitely bring what you can. At a proper pharmacy most things are available, but you can require a prescription.
    – apg
    Commented Jan 3, 2023 at 14:56

3 Answers 3


Take it. Even when something like that is available locally, do you want to have to figure out where to buy it and figure out how it is called and labelled locally while you need it? A pack of ibuprofen tablets is light and fairly small, so I don't see a reason not to take it. Even a bottle of 72 gels commonly available here weighs 80g, including the bottle.

Medicine shortage is common lately and poor countries are disproportionately affected, so I would advise to take as much as you need. Even if it is normally available, it could be out-of-stock or you may end up in very long lineups common in Sri Lanka for many necessities.

The main concern for certain medication is that some countries do not allow the same as those in your home country but in the case of ibuprofen in Sri Lanka, you can take up to 90-day of supply for personal use.

  • 25
    While I understand the practical reasons to bring it, this ignores any drug import restrictions which may exist, and which are sometimes quite surprising to the unsuspecting user. Not saying that importing Ibuprofen in Sri Lanka is forbidden, but at the very least one should check about it.
    – jcaron
    Commented Jan 2, 2023 at 10:31
  • 4
    Added. Thank you for the suggestion!
    – Itai
    Commented Jan 2, 2023 at 18:00

When importing drugs in a country (even something apparently as innocuous as Ibuprofen), one should always check import regulations (and possibly rules for any transit countries as well, if applicable).

Sri Lanka's National Medecines Regulatory Agency says:

A person travelling to Sri Lanka can carry medicine for his personal use, without prior approval of the NMRA under the following conditions. The quantity of any single medicine required for the duration of his stay in Sri Lanka or the quantity required up to ninety days whichever is less. Prior approval of the NMRA should be obtain for quantities exceeding 90-day requirement.The medicine administered through intramuscular or intravenous route is not permitted. The medicine specified in Schedule III is not permitted. The medicine should be packed in the original container, if it is not in the original container, it should be appropriately labelled to identify the name and strength of the medicine with usage instructions. Medical records or prescription should be produced when necessary.

(emphasis mine).

So if you are coming for less than 90 days it should be fine to bring it with you, though a prescription would be useful. I couldn't find Schedule III but I would be surprised if Ibuprofen was listed there. However pay attention to the fact that some formulations may include other active ingredients such as Codeine which may be restricted.

If you plan to stay more than 90 days, then it also states on the same page:

Importing Medicines for PERSONAL USE

If a particular medicine required by a patient is not registered or not available in Sri Lanka, NMRA allows import of such a medicine through a personal user Letter of Authorization.

The general public can apply for a personal user license by logging into https://www.enmra.nmra.gov.lk furnishing required details or by handing over the documents directly to NMRA during working hours.

The following documents are required:

  • Copy of a valid prescription issued by a registered medical Professional
  • Request letter by the patient or a guardian of the patient
  • Copy of the NIC/Passport /Driving license of the patient or the guardian
  • Application form signed by the prescriber

A maximum of 100 doses can be imported by using the Personal User License.

No fee is charged by NMRA for this purpose

(emphasis mine)

  • 2
    Schedule III is here (PDF) -- at least, as it was in 1985. Schedule III appears to list narcotics. Ibuprofen should be in Schedule I, since it's been marketed since 1969. Commented Jan 2, 2023 at 15:35

I've now spent 2 weeks in Sri Lanka and it turns out ibuprofen is readily available in all pharmacies under the name Brufen.

I did bring some from home, but it's nice to see it's readily available here as well.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .