Malaria Medication Made Easy
Goal number one: Don’t contract malaria! An estimated 30,000 international travelers contract malaria annually. Based on this statistic alone, we knew that preventing malaria and getting the right malaria medication would be a serious discussion point with our travel doctor for our trip. Although malaria has been nearly wiped out in Western countries, it’s still rampant in some of the most popular travel destinations like Africa and Southeast Asia.
If you look at the map below, courtesy of CDC and Google, we are coloring way outside the green lines for our journey. Many of our destinations spill into the yellow and red zones. That means malaria medication is a must! If you want to know more about malaria in specific parts of the world, click here for the CDC’s Interactive Malaria Map.
TYPES OF MALARIA MEDICATION
There are several types of malaria medication that are available to travelers from the United States. That’s the good news. The bad news? Most of them have side effects, some areas of the world are resistant to certain types, and none of them are cheap. We found a great chart that lists countries from A-Z, malarous areas, any drug resistance, and the recommended type of malaria medication.
There’s mefloquine, malarone, chloroquine, and doxycycline. Those are some of the main malaria meds. Some are weekly (like malarone), some are daily (like doxycycline). But, what’s best for us? Based on where we will visit, we’ll need to be on malaria medication for more than three months while in Southeast Asia and part of China. To make it even more complicated, some areas we’re going have specific drug-resistant strains of malaria.
Our travel doctor ended up recommending doxycycline for us. Besides preventing malaria, doxycycline is used to treat bacterial infections and other respiratory tract infections, lyme disease, acne, and even urinary tract infections. It is taken one or two days before entering a malarous area and four weeks after leaving one.
Because doxycycline is used to treat things besides just malaria, our insurance covered a monthly dose. Too bad we needed four months worth. So, it looked like we were paying cash for the rest! Check with your insurance to see how much they’ll cover and how often you can refill the prescription.
PAYING OUT-OF-POCKET FOR MEDICATION
I (Cassie) asked our pharmacist how expensive it would be to pay out-of-pocket for the remainder of the pills (meaning, without insurance). I almost had a heart attack when she told me the answer! But that’s when I learned a vital lesson. Not all drug distributors charge the same amount of money for prescription drugs. My friend told me to call around to local pharmacies, tell the pharmacy that I’m paying out-of-pocket and need a price estimate for a specific quantity of medicine. So, I checked with Rite Aid, Costco, and other stores. Guess who had the lowest price? Walmart. Go figure! And when I say lowest price, I mean, $300 less than some of the other locations.
So, if you need to pay cash to buy medications for traveling, or anything else, and have a prescription, take the time to call around for the best price! It’s absolutely worth it.
Of course, malaria medication isn’t the only medication we’ll have with us. Check out our travel medications page for the full rundown.
Want to color outside the lines with us? Click here.