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 offer mostly cosmetics and toiletries as well as cleaning products. Every pharmacy is clearly marked with a red “A” (Apotheke) visible from the outside and is operated by a qualified pharmacist.
There are different types of medicaments. Medicines against colds and slight pain may be purchased at any pharmacy even without prescription from a doctor. However, normally you have to pay these medicaments by yourself, since the costs are not covered by your health insurance company.
Stronger medications, such as all antibiotics, require a prescription. That means you will only receive these medicaments if they have been explicitly prescribed by a doctor. Your doctor will give you a written attestation which you have to present at the pharmacy. Usually, your health insurance company will cover the costs for prescription medicines. Members of public health insurances have to pay at least a personal contribution of up to 10 Euro for certain medicaments. Persons without or with low income may ask their health insurance company for an exemption from the copayment obligation.
Ask the pharmacist how your medicine is composed. 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).