Pharmacies play an important role in public health, but they also carry risks. Pharmacists may provide drugs on the basis of symptoms that they may not completely comprehend, especially through a language barrier; while the cumulative societal impact may be positive, individual recommendations may be erroneous.
Many medications available only by prescription in North America or Europe may be sold over the counter here. Travelers should be cautious about self-medication even when drugs are available; check expiration dates, as many expired drugs are never cleared off the shelf.
In large cities and some smaller towns, pharmacies remain open all night for emergencies on a rotating basis. The farmacia de turno and its address will usually be posted in other pharmacies’ windows, or advertised in the newspaper.
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Chile, 2nd edition