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Over the Counter in Canada
April 23, 2010 5:41 AM   Subscribe

Which over the counter medicine is available in Canada that isn't in the U.S.?

I may as well stock up on the things the FDA has made illegal if they're available here, right? Like, can I get proper allergy medicine in Canada?
posted by Unred to Health & Fitness (24 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
Reactine is a great allergy medicine that I usually pick up while I'm in Canada. And Tylenol with Codeine is another thing that I always make sure I have as well.
posted by Grither at 5:48 AM on April 23, 2010


Tylenol #1 (not on shelf; must ask pharmacist -- might as well ask for a generic); Claritin, and I don't know what other similar allergy drugs (most/all of which are available in generic form), Polysporin eye drops, and (somewhat inexplicably) Lac-Hydrin 12% lotion.
posted by kmennie at 5:48 AM on April 23, 2010


Reactine is the same as Zyrtec, which is OTC in the USA.
Claritin is OTC in the USA.
posted by rbs at 6:06 AM on April 23, 2010


Maybe the dosage is higher in reactine than zyrtec? Not sure, but my wife swears by it. (entirely possible the placebo effect is higher in the reactine than zyrtec for my wife, I suppose)
posted by Grither at 6:10 AM on April 23, 2010


Loratadine (Claratin) is available over the counter in the US now in formerly perscription strength. Claratin-D is available by asking the pharmacist.
posted by Pollomacho at 6:14 AM on April 23, 2010


Polysporin ear/eyedrops weren't available otc last time I was there.
posted by fish tick at 6:15 AM on April 23, 2010


Another codeine drug - mersyndol, which contains doxylamine, acetominophen and codeine.
posted by lizbunny at 6:16 AM on April 23, 2010


Polysporin ear/eyedrops weren't available otc last time I was there.
(There being USA)
posted by fish tick at 6:16 AM on April 23, 2010


Some anti-malarial drugs like quinine are over-the-counter in Canada. I am not sure why this is, as I don't seem to recall malaria being that big of a deal outside the tropics.

Codeine is available over the counter when formulated with at least two other drugs.
posted by valkyryn at 6:29 AM on April 23, 2010


I'm pretty sure that methocarbamol is prescription only down there. If you've got a bad back/muscle aches it's pretty awesome. Look for Robax Platinum, or generics at drug stores.
posted by Kreiger at 6:33 AM on April 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


Seconding Kreiger on the muscle relaxants. Robax also = Robaxacet, I think.
posted by nicoleincanada at 6:38 AM on April 23, 2010


I'm curious how the US immigration laws work. They are OTC drugs in Canada (Let's say Codeine, in small dosages and certain preparations, like Tylenol #1, and cold medication containing pseudoephedrine...... those two are now scheduled drugs in the US.

Are you ALLOWED to bring them back without a doctor's prescription?
posted by TravellingDen at 6:55 AM on April 23, 2010


And by immigration I meant Customs of course.....
posted by TravellingDen at 6:56 AM on April 23, 2010


Flexeril is available OTC in Canada, but is prescription in the USA
posted by Comrade_robot at 7:29 AM on April 23, 2010


Are you ALLOWED to bring them back without a doctor's prescription?

From the CBP website:
U.S. residents entering the United States at international land borders who are carrying a validly obtained controlled substance (other than narcotics such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin, or LSD), are subject to certain additional requirements. If a U.S. resident wants to bring in a controlled substance (other than narcotics such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin, or LSD) but does not have a prescription for the substance issued by a U.S.-licensed practitioner (e.g., physician, dentist, etc.) who is registered with, and authorized by, the Drug Enforcement Administration to prescribe the medication, the individual may not import more than 50 dosage units of the medication into the United States.
In other words, things like allergy meds are A-OK if they're OTC in Canada, as long as you don't bring back too much. Not sure about codeine, though; naively I would think it would be classified as a narcotic, but I might be wrong there.
posted by Johnny Assay at 7:29 AM on April 23, 2010


And, recently, and AFAIK not in BC: Fluconazole
posted by kmennie at 8:10 AM on April 23, 2010


It's not a drug, but cyclamate is legal in Canada. There's never been an artificial sweetener as good as cyclamate.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:20 AM on April 23, 2010


Lactulose is OTC in Canada, but afaik you need a prescription for it in the US. Not a common item, but if ever you should need it you don't wanna not have access to it.
posted by swimbikerun at 11:49 AM on April 23, 2010


I've brought tylenol with codeine back over the border many times. It's not in the narcotic category for whatever reason.
posted by KathrynT at 12:10 PM on April 23, 2010


Is it possible that some drugs available in Canada but not in the United States are considered unsafe by the FDA for a good reason?

I do not know the answer to that question, fwiw. Anyone?
posted by paanta at 3:33 PM on April 23, 2010


Maybe the dosage is higher in reactine than zyrtec? Not sure, but my wife swears by it.

Nope. If anything, the zyrtec has a higher dose since the base dosage is 10mg per tablet while regular strength Reactine is 5mg per tablet, although you can take 2 per 24 hours. So any difference is nothing but a placebo effect for her.
posted by Justinian at 5:44 PM on April 23, 2010


paanta: "Is it possible that some drugs available in Canada but not in the United States are considered unsafe by the FDA for a good reason?

I do not know the answer to that question, fwiw. Anyone?
"

There is a "Travelers Alert" on the FDA page that gives some detail on this.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 6:26 PM on April 23, 2010


Is it possible that some drugs available in Canada but not in the United States are considered unsafe by the FDA for a good reason?

It doesn't violate the laws of physics.

But at least in the case of cyclamate, the only reason is bureacracy. The original test done on cyclamate that claimed it caused cancer was faulty. But the FDA won't spontaneously admit the mistake. Someone would have to do a lot of research and put together a petition to the FDA for them to consider.

Cyclamate is out of patent now. If any one company spent all that money and did all that work, lots of companies could then make and sell cyclamate, and the original company would get screwed. Furthermore, the companies that make and sell the artisweeteners which are legal in the US don't want cyclamate back on the market here, so they'd contest it.

Congress could do something about that, but those same other companies would resist the effort there, too.

Cyclamate is considered unsafe for the FDA for a pair of bad reasons: bureaucratic inertia and rent seeking.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:35 PM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


With regards to codeine, you probably want to ask the pharmacist for AC&C, which is, I believe, the most common preparation. It's relatively cheap, and it's the most effective migraine (or severe headache, at that) medication I've ever used.
posted by MeghanC at 10:29 PM on April 23, 2010


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