The significant contribution of medicines in the introduction and spread of ‘modern’ medicine has, with the exception of vaccination, been neglected in historical studies, yet medicines have been a significant factor in people’s experiences of sickness and in their use and non-use of health services. Although medicines are implicitly acknowledged in the literature as important in the provision of healthcare, this article uses a case study of the Mt Everest region of Nepal during the second half of the twentieth century to argue that medicines have had an explicit and central role in the introduction and spread of modern medicine in this region. It also highlights the importance of travellers in the process. While this article focuses on biomedical products, modern medicine, as elsewhere in the wider Himalayan region, continued to be practised within a changing but plural medical environment. The first part of the article discusses medicines and travellers who, in the absence of biomedical services, were the main source of medicines prior to the mid-1960s, while the second part considers medicines and Khunde Hospital, which was built in 1966 by the area’s most famous overseas traveller and became not only the area’s main provider of modern health services but also the main source of medicines.