Pharmacies in mainland Europe can seem very different to those in the UK and North America. One thing that many people from outside Denmark observe is that there are a lot fewer OTC (over the counter) remedies available. I often recommend to clients to makes sure they bring a few month’s worth of both prescription medication and the OTC meds they regularly take. It is also advisable to have your original packaging and the know the generic name for the medication as this can help both your doctor and the pharmacist in finding you the right stuff here.I thought I’d do a quick run down of what is available in the pharmacies (apotek in Danish) here.
- Dental care products include for dentures
- Feminine hygiene products such as intimate soap and sanitary products
- Sun cream
- Baby products including breast pumps and accessories, nail scissors, washes, zinc cream, nappy cream, dummies, formula and bottles etc but not nappies.
- Dressings, bandages and plasters (band aids). If you need a special size dressing say for a surgical wound ask at the counter as they often keep these in the store room and if they don’t have them they can get them in for you.
- Sports injury remedies such as heat cream, heat pads and supports
- Bug repellents and bite remedies including devices to remove ticks
- Head lice hair washes
- Pet medications
- Pregnancy test kits
- Health screening test kits such as lactose intolerance, ovulation and clamydia.
- Vitamins, minerals and health supplements
- Fancy French and Scandinavian beauty products but not make up
Behind the counter there are a number of OTC medications but nowhere near as many as in other countries. The pharmacists are very knowledgeable but there are many medications you will need to see your doctor for.
The main groups of OTC medications include:
- Throat and cold medications
- Nasal sprays for various ailments (these are popular and effective)
- Hayfever and allergy medications
- Stomach and indigestion remedies
- Pain relief – for children there is both liquid paracetamol and also suppositories
- Smoking replacements such as gum and patches
- Weight gain products
- Travel sickness tablets
- Antiseptic creams
General rule of thumb, if you can’t see something just ask as they may still have it.
When you arrive at the pharmacy there are usually two buttons to choose from to get a ticket – Recept for prescriptions and Handkøb for other purchases including OTC medications. You wait for your number to come up on the screen (you can read more about queueing in Denmark here)
You won’t get a paper prescription from your doctor but it will be on the system. You present your CPR card and they can see all your current prescriptions. If you have no preference of the pharmaceutical brand you can ask for the cheapest one and this may not be the same one each time but will be the same active ingredients.
You will be charged a subsidised price for your prescription. The more you spend of prescription medications in a 12 month period the greater the subsidy. I take a regular and expensive pain medication and now my all prescriptions are free. You always have to pay a set amount for contraceptive pills.
If you are on the not for profit Danmark Sygeforsikring insurance system (see here for more information) you get greater subsidies if you are a member of the above scheme.
You can find our local pharmacy by putting in your postcode here (the box saying døgnapotek means 24/7 pharmacies).
You can also return any unused medicines to the pharmacy for them to dispose of responsibly (you don’t get any money back).