Learn the American names of common medicines in Brazil

Certainly, while traveling abroad, at some point you will need to buy some kind of medication.

Your chances increase considerably when traveling with children or the elderly.

However, foreign countries give different names to the medicines we know here. Many people find it difficult to buy medicines in the United States because they don't know their names.

To help you with this task, in this article we've listed some of the most common medications, and their respective names in the USA, that you may need at any time.

There are also some tips on how to plan your trip and how to buy medicine in an emergency in the United States.

What's the name of that medicine again?

Anyone who frequently travels to other countries, especially the United States, knows that some medicines have the same nomenclature as those used in Brazil.

But many other remedies have very different formulas and names, but the same active ingredient. Below is a list of the main remedies for different symptoms and needs:


The equivalent of Floratil in American lands is the Culturelle;

Called Paracetamol in Portuguese, can be found as Paracetamol or Acetaminophen in English. Tylenol it's just another one of Brazil's names;

Known as Ibuprofen in Portuguese, is called Ibuprofen in English. You can also search for Motrin or Advil;

Remedies for sinusitis

Among the options are Celestaminecalled Dexchlorpheniramine maleate. It is also possible to opt for the Hixizinecalled Hydroxyzine or Allegra (fexofenadine hydrochloride);

Dimenhydrinate in Portuguese, Dimenhydrinate in English, can be found by the name Dramamine;

Ointments for itching

Hydrocortisone cream 1%It can be found in any pharmacy;

Celestamine, is known as Dexchlorpheniramine maleate;


Every pharmacy has brands that Brazilians know, as well as the market's own brands;


As with sunscreens, pharmacies offer well-known brands here in Brazil.

Ointment for muscle pain

Bengay is one of the most widely used solutions to this problem. In addition Icy Hot or Cataflan Gel can also help you;

Ear remedy

Similasan is the main remedy in this regard.

Hydration serum

You can make your own serum or buy it Pedialyte;

Vicky and solutions for respiratory problems

The most common remedy for this problem is Dayquil Allergy Liquid;


It's called Simethicone in Portuguese and Simethicone in English. It can also be found as Mylicon or Little Tummys. Another highly praised option is gas-x;

Among the options are Delsym, o Benylin or Robitussin (Dextromethorphan);


The medicine is not found in liquid form as it is here in Brazil, but as an ointment. Neosporin will solve your problem (bacitracin, neomycin, and polymyxin B);

Diaper rash cream

The main options are Desitin and A+D;

Traveling abroad with medicines

Many travelers have to carry their medication across international borders to treat chronic or serious health problems.

However, each country has its own guidelines on which medicines are legal, as well as rules for quantity and transportation.

Drugs that are commonly prescribed or available without a prescription in Brazil can be categorized as substances that are not licensed or controlled in the US or other countries.

For example, in Japan, some inhalers and certain allergy and sinus medications are illegal. In addition, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has strict narcotics laws that have landed many travelers in prison.

Although the rules vary from country to country, there can be serious consequences if you break the laws of the country you are visiting.

These consequences can range from the confiscation (removal) of your medication, which could jeopardize your medical treatment, to severe penalties, including imprisonment for drug trafficking.

To avoid medical problems during your trip, follow these tips.

Buying medicines at your destination

Don't wait to buy everyday medicines at your destination. They may not be available and, if they are, they may not meet quality standards and have different formulations.

This is not the case in the USA, but in many developing countries, counterfeit medicines are a major problem. So keep an eye on the veracity of the product if you're traveling to another destination.

If you need to buy medicines during your trip in case of an emergency, there are ways to reduce your chances of buying counterfeit medicines or those with active ingredients that could harm your health:

  • Contact your nearest embassy or consulate. They should be able to put you in touch with doctors and pharmacies who can help you find reliable, quality medicines.
  • Only buy medicines from licensed pharmacies and get a receipt. Do not buy medicines from open markets or small retailers.
  • Ask the pharmacist if the medicine has the same active ingredient as the one you were taking in Brazil.
  • Make sure the medicine is in its original packaging.
  • Look carefully at the packaging. Sometimes poor quality printing or strange looking packaging indicates a counterfeit product.


Dipyrone is not sold in the United States (it's banned here) and consequently we won't find our famous Novalgina here. At first it was quite difficult for me to get used to it, but today I don't miss it and the substitutes Advil (iboprofen) and Tylenol (parecetanol) work very well (at least for me)[/mpc_callout].

Planning a long-term trip

Make an appointment with a travel medicine specialist or your doctor to get the necessary vaccinations and medication at least 4 to 6 weeks before you leave.

  • If you plan to be away for more than 30 days, talk to your doctor about how you can get enough medication for your trip. Sometimes insurance companies only pay for a 30-day supply at a time.
  • Ask your doctor about any changes to your medication intake when you are in a different time zone. Medicines should be taken according to the time since your last dose, not the local time of day.
  • Ask how to store medicines safely and check if they need to be refrigerated. Remember that extreme temperatures can reduce the effectiveness of many medicines.

Organizing transport and conditioning

Pack smart and put your medicines in your hand luggage. You won't want to be without them if you lose your suitcase!

  • Bring enough medicine for the whole trip, plus a little extra in case of delays.
  • Keep medicines in their original, labeled packaging. Make sure they are clearly labeled with your full passport name, doctor's name, generic and trade name and exact dosage.
  • Bring copies of all prescriptions, including the generic names of the drugs.
  • Leave a copy of your recipes at home with a friend or relative in case you lose your copy or need an emergency refill.
  • Pack a note on your doctor's letterhead (preferably translated into the language of your destination) for controlled substances such as CBD and injectable medicines such as insulin.

Bringing your own essential medicines

Check with the foreign embassy of the country you will be visiting or passing through to make sure that your medicines are allowed in that country.

  • Be aware that many countries only allow a 30-day supply of certain medicines and require the traveler to carry a prescription or medical certificate.
  • If your medication is banned at your destination, talk to your doctor about an alternative solution and ask your doctor to write a letter describing your condition and treatment plan.

Final thoughts and tips

If you're going abroad, or on a long trip, it's vital for your health to know the rules about traveling with medicines, what the country's restrictions are and how to buy them if you need them.

Millions of Brazilians depend on medicines and, with the globalization of travel, access to prescription drugs is even more crucial.

Most importantly, plan ahead

Plan ahead, especially if you're changing time zones and need to take your medication at a certain time of day.

Make a medical itinerary that runs parallel to your day-to-day travel itinerary. Plan the nearest cities you'll be in and identify the best providers for you based on your specific medical needs.

Don't let it be a fire drill when you get there. Do your homework, it could save your trip - or even your life.

Consider travel insurance

Many factors influence the purchase of travel insurance. How long will you be traveling for? Where are you going?

Are you going to relax on the beach for a week or do adventure activities in the rainforest? Do you have ongoing medical problems that may need care?

If you need health insurance for your trip, it is advisable to explore your options before traveling abroad to determine which policy and plan is best for you.

Be strategic about your medication

Although you may want to take your small bottle of AdvilThese types of drugs are available everywhere.

Give priority to any medicines that are vital to your well-being or survival.

Asthma inhalers, diabetes medication, anticonvulsant medication and blood pressure medication are the main ones to bear in mind.

Make sure you bring medicines that require daily use or generate withdrawal if you run out of them.

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