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We're headed to Malaysia & Singapore in a month or so. I've got arthritic knees and I know we're going to be doing a lot of walking. My knees will put up with a fair amount of this, but it can be a grunt walking through the pain until the endorphins kick in.

I generally manage the pain on a day-to-day basis in the US with Tylenol (Panadol) and either ibuprofen (Advil here in the states) or naproxen sodium (Aleve). I generally carry Tramadol in a prescription bottle which is somewhat effective, and I think I can get diclofenac OTC in Asia (its prescription only here in North America). I've been encouraged in another thread to carry gabapentin as well, can I get that OTC in Malaysia or Singapore, or do I need to get a prescription for it over here before I go?

I plan to have both knees injected with steroids prior to leaving in the hopes of having it last through the trip.

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Diclofenac appears to be available at Guardian (a large local pharmacy chain in both countries), gabapentin (Neurontin) appears to be prescription only per a search on the HSA website. Note that a prescription obtained overseas will not be accepted by a Singaporean or Malaysian pharmacy.

However, you can bring that prescription to a local doctor (general practitioner, "GP"), who will happily issue you a local one, or even dispense on the spot if they have it available. Most local GPs in Singapore accept walk-in patients, no reservation needed, and the cost of a consultation is ridiculously low by US standards ($20-ish). Malaysia will be even cheaper.

Also, do not bring Tramadol or any other opioid pain medication in Singapore or Malaysia if you can help it, they're considered narcotics and the penalties if caught are extreme. If you must, Singapore has a cumbersome licensing process that you'll need to kick off well in advance of your visit.

  • Thanks for the information. I've brought Tramadol / Ultram on every trip I've made to SE Asia thus far with no problems, but then again my bags have never been searched that I'm aware of. I always bring them in a prescription bottle, making possibly the naive assumption that that was OK. Do you have a citation for where it's against the law to bring prescribed narcotics into the countries? – delliottg May 23 '15 at 16:56
  • Some research on SG's requirements shows that Tramadol isn't on their Appendix A of controlled substances. So I appear to be OK in that regard. I'll also check into MY's requirements. – delliottg May 23 '15 at 19:07
  • Misuse of Drugs Act, sec. 7: Importing controlled substances without an HSA license is an offense, period. I'm mildly surprised to see that Tramadol appears to be missing from the controlled drugs list though, wouldn't hurt to double-check with HSA. statutes.agc.gov.sg/aol/search/display/…. – jpatokal May 24 '15 at 9:26
  • In my experience most GPs (at least those I've used) will not give you a prescription, but might sell you the medication directly. – drat Jun 3 '15 at 0:55

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