Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions – Dispensing Prescription-only Medicines

According to the laws of Hong Kong, medicines are classified into three main categories: 1) Prescription Drug; 2) Drug under Supervised Sales; and 3) Drugs that can be sold without resident pharmacists or prescriptions. Medicines in different categories have to be sold in different registered retailers under different specified conditions. Details are available on Hong Kong Department of Health’s website. The followings are some common questions and doubts concerning drug dispensing. If you have any enquiries, feel free to contact Health In Action pharmacists.


  • What is prescription?

    According to Pharmacy and Poisons Ordinance, a prescription should be given by a registered medical practitioner, registered dentist or registered veterinary surgeon. In the prescription provided by a dentist, it should be written “For dental treatment only” and in the prescription given by a veterinary surgeon, it should be written “For animal treatment only”. Other information that should be included in a valid prescription are:

    • Date of the prescription
    • Name and address of the patient
    • The total amount of the medicine to be supplied and the dose to be taken or administered
    • Signature of the prescriber
    • Address of the prescriber
  • If I want to purchase prescription-only medicines, is it a must to present a prescription?

    According to the laws of Hong Kong, prescription-only medicines must be dispensed and sold on a valid prescription given by a registered medical practitioner, a registered dentist or a registered veterinary surgeon.

  • Can I keep the prescription after filling it?

    It is a legal requirement for pharmacy (i.e. Authorized Sellers of Poisons) to retain prescriptions dispensed and keep the records for 2 years.

  • Are receipts, referral letters or investigation reports eligible for purchasing prescription-only medicines, instead of prescriptions from registered practitioners?

    No, they are not. You can refer to the previous question for the legal requirements of a valid prescription.

  • Can I present the photocopies or photos of prescriptions for purchasing prescription-only medicines?

    No. According to the laws of Hong Kong, prescription-only medicines must be dispensed and sold on a valid prescription given by a registered medical practitioner, a registered dentist or a registered veterinary surgeon.

  • Can I use prescriptions given by doctors from other countries or regions to purchase prescription-only medicines?

    No. A valid prescription must be given by a medical practitioner, dentist or veterinary surgeon registered in Hong Kong.

  • After filling a prescription, can I purchase prescription-only medicines according to my previous record at your pharamcy?

    No. Pharmacy can only dispense prescription-only medicines against the prescriptions, instead of previously record.

  • Does a prescription have an expiry date?

    In general, the quantity of medicines to be dispensed and the date of prescription are written clearly on the prescription. Once you receive the prescriptions, you should fill the prescription at a community pharmacy as soon as possible. On the other hand, prescriptions given from hospitals or clinics under the Hospital Authority are valid for one month from the prescribing date.

Generic Medicines

  • What is a generic drug?

    When a patent of a pharmaceutical product has expired, other pharmaceutical companies could manufacture drugs that contain the same active pharmaceutical ingredient. Under the Pharmacy and Poisons Regulations, all pharmaceutical products including generic drugs must be registered with the Pharmacy and Poisons Board of Hong Kong before they can be sold or distributed. During registration,the Department of Health would examine the investigation reports concerning the “bioavailability” and “bioequivalence” of generic drugs.


    Examples of brand-name and generic drugs:


    Brand Name: Crestor

    Chemical Name / Drug Name: Rosuvastatin

  • What should I do if I want to fill the prescription with generic drugs?

    Where a prescriber specifies a particular branded product on the prescription, the registered pharmacist is required to dispense the product specified. The registered pharmacist cannot supply a different equivalent brand (i.e. generic drugs) without consulting the prescriber concerned.

    After all, the pharmacy can only dispense generic drugs if the chemical name of the drug, or wording such as  “generic substitution is allowed unless otherwise specified” or equivalence is written on the prescription.


    • “Lipitor” is the name of the brand drug. The chemical name of the drug is “Atorvastatin”.
    • If “Lipitor 10mg” is written on the prescription, pharmacy can only dispense the brand drug “Lipitor”.
    • If “Atorvastatin 10mg” is written on the prescription, you can  choose to  dispense the generic drugs that contain the same ingredients.
    • If “generic substitution is allowed unless otherwise specified” or equivalence is written on the prescription, you can decide which brand you want.
  • What are the differences between brand-name and generic drugs?

    Brand-name drugs:
    A drug sold by a pharmaceutical company under a specific name or trademark and is protected by a patent. One of the most common examples is “Panadol”, the chemical name/  active pharmaceutical ingredient of which is “Paracetamol”.

    Generic drugs:
    When the patent of a drug has expired, other pharmaceutical companies can manufacture generic drugs which consist of the same Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient as the brand-name drug.

    The “Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient” of both brand-name and generic drugs are the same.

    Excipients (i.e. ingredients other than Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient, e.g. bulking agents, binder, flavour) of generic drugs can differ from that of brand-name drugs. Although some people may be allergic to the excipients, it is rare to encounter allergic reactions to them as commonly used excipients have undergone multiple safety research and have a long history of safety on human health.

    If you never tried the active pharmaceutical ingredient before, the probability of having allergic reactions are similar for both brand name and generic drugs.

Reminders on Filling the Prescription

  • What types of payment methods do Health In Action Community Pharmacy accept?

    We currently accept Cash, Octopus Card and PayMe.

  • Do I make an appointment or reservation before I come?

    Not necessary. We encourage you to contact us beforehand in order to ensure sufficient stocks upon arrival. 

    Contact details:

    Phone: 3612 9515

    WhatsApp / Signal: 6618 9212

  • Are there any delivery services?

    We do not have delivery service at the moment. You must come to our pharmacy to purchase prescription-only medicines.

  • Do you provide shopping bags or plastic bags?

    Both are not available. Aiming to support environmental protection, we encourage you to bring your own shopping bags.

  • Can I use the Health Care Voucher to purchase prescription-only medicines?

    According to the current Elderly Health Care Voucher Scheme, services provided by pharmacists (including purchasing pharmaceutical products) are not covered by the scheme. In fact, Health Care Voucher are not applicable for solely purchasing products, such as medication, spectacles, dried seafood, personal care products, food products or medical equipment.

    For details, please visit Health Care Voucher’s website at

Latest News

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