What the heck is Panadol? Names for Common Drugs Abroad.

I thought this was important to write for those North Americans either traveling or living abroad for the first time. If you were to move to Qatar or travel anywhere using the British National Formulary, one of the differences you would notice is differences in medications.  This may only become apparent the first time you or your child have a fever and you go to buy Tylenol (generic name: acetaminophen) and couldn’t find it at the pharmacy. For the first time in 5 years, I managed to find Tylenol in suppository form (for children) a couple weeks ago.  The generic name for acetaminophen internationally is paracetamol (common brand name Panadol).  They are the same drug and are analgesics, i.e. pain relievers and anti-pyretics, i.e. fever reducers.  The dosing is the exact same for tyelnol and panadol.  This is important to know for your infants as ibuprofen is not safe until at least 6 months of age.  A word on Tylenol/Panadol, I have never found that it has been very effective personally but if you are pregnant or the above mentioned infant it is your only safe choice for pain or fever.

Benadryl (generic name diphenhydramine) is another commonly used household medication in the USA.  Bendadryl is an antihistamine.  But you won’t find this on the shelves in Qatatr. Diphenhydramine is not even listed in the British National Formulary.  Of course you can ask the local pharmacist for an antihistamine and he would likely recommend chlorpheniramine or chlorphenamine.  Both diphenhydramine and chlorpheniramine are sedating antihistamines.  This means they make you drowsy. They are useful for allergic reactions  as both drugs are quicker acting than the non-sedating antihistamines such as Claritin or Zyrtec.

A third category of medications that may not be easy to recognize abroad is the anti-inflammatory ibuprofen.  Brand names in the USA include: Motrin or Advil while abroad a common name is Brufen.  A word on dosing, to achieve anti-inflammatory effects for arthritis or acute injuries, the dose needs to be as high as 600-800 mg by mouth every 8 hours.  Here in Qatar, the higher doses are shied away from.  Higher doses can induce gastrointestinal upset (and gastrointestinal bleeding) so always take with food at the dose recommended to you and stop if g.i. upset occurs.  Another instance where ibuprofen is not prescribed here is in the case where a patient is an asthmatic.  This is not wrong. It is just being very conservative.  Ibuprofen can and does trigger asthma attacks in aspirin sensitive patients.  So if you are sensitive to aspirin and have asthma then don’t take ibuprofen.  If you are not sensitive to aspirin, have asthma and have taking ibuprofen without triggering your asthma, the chances are very small that you will have a problem.

I hope this clarifies questions about commonly used medications so you may safely buy their equivalents abroad. Feel free to email me at drrajka@expatdoctormom.com with the names of other common medications you may have a question about so I can create a comprehensive list and everyone can benefit.  You may also email other medical questions or cases to cases@expatdoctormom.com

7 years ago by in Health/Parenting | You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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