The information in this article has been provided by Hamburg Welcome Portal.
In Germany, there is a difference between pharmacies and drugstores. While pharmacies only sell medicines and medical products, drugstores mostly supply things like cosmetics, toiletries, cleaning products and basic household necessities other than groceries. Every pharmacy is clearly marked with a red 'A' (for Apotheke) and is operated by a qualified pharmacist.
Medicines, medications and treatments
There are different types of medicine. Medicines against colds and low dose painkillers may be purchased over the counter at any pharmacy without prescription from a doctor. However, over-the-counter medicine is generally not covered by insurance and must be paid by the patient.
Stronger medications, such as stronger painkillers and all antibiotics, require a prescription from a doctor. Doctors will write a prescription for patients to present at the pharmacy, and usually health insurance companies will cover these costs. Those with public health insurances must pay at least a small personal contribution or copay of up to 10 Euro for certain medications. Those with no income or with low income may ask their health insurance company for an exemption from the copayment obligation.
Ask the pharmacist for information about the composition of your medicine. In Germany, medicinal products may contain other ingredients than those in your home country, for example animal gelatin.
Like other retail shops, pharmacies have opening hours. Outside of the normal opening hours, a pharmacy emergency service is available at night and on weekends. The nearest pharmacy on standby duty can be identified online at www.aponet.de (in German language only).