Saturday, 4 May 2013

Top ten things to know about medicines in Singapore

1.All medication have two names : generic and brand name. Generic name indicates the active ingredients in the drugs

Eg: Calcium acetate 667mg is the generic name and Renatect is the brand name


Calcium acetate 667mg
Calcium acetate 667mg


2.The number in the drug name indicates the strength
eg, bisoprolol 5 mg versus bisoprolol 2.5 mg. Bisoprolol 5 mg contains more active ingredient than 2.5 mg


Bisoprolol 2.5mg
Bisoprolol 2.5mg


3. Drugs are classified by
  • Prescription only medicines (POM)
  • Pharmacy Only (PO)and
  • General Sale List (GSL)
POMs required a prescription to fill the medicine.

GSLs can be bought over the counter without prescriptions.

PO requires the presence of a pharmacist to sell to you

4. The original prescription is a piece of legal document.
 Do not lose it or you will not be able to fill the drugs in the future, esp for prescription only medicines (POM)

5. Prescriptions have expiry date as well , i.e.  you can only collect the medicine within a certain period (usually one year depending on institutions)

6. Prices of the exact same drugs can differ significantly in various institutions (restructured  hospitals, polyclinics) or community pharmacies (Guardian, Watsons, Unity pharmacy).

7. Most hospital pharmacy has a home delivery service (for a fee, usually). You can ask for the service if you don't want to wait at the pharmacy. For example, Tan Tock Seng Home Delivery Service

8. Same generic drugs containing the same active ingredients can be divided into different legal classifications.
  • Standard list 1 (SL1)
  • Standard list 2 (SL2) and
  • Non formulary (NF)

For subsidised patients filling prescriptions at a restructured hospitals, different classes of medicines will be charged differently

  • SL1: fixed $ 1.40 per week
  • SL2 : 50% of drug price
  • NF : 100% drug price minus the general sales tax (GST)

9. Private patients at restructured hospitals will have to pay full price for SL1, SL2 and NF including GST

10. If have trouble paying for medication can ask the doctor to refer to medical social worker(MSW) available at each institution