Healthcare for Internationals

Where to buy medicines in the Netherlands

You can only buy prescription drugs at a Pharmacy (Apotheek). Over-the-counter drugs can be bought at Chemists (Drogist) and supermarkets without a prescription.

Over-the-counter-drugs

Over-the-counter drugs, like antihistamines for hay fever, are available without a prescription. They are divided into three classes. Depending on their class, you can buy over-the-counter drugs at a Pharmacy, Chemist, supermarket or petrol stations. The three classes of over-the-counter drugs are:

  1. Those that may only be sold by a Pharmacy, where staff can explain how they can be used safely and correctly. This may depend on other medicines that you are using.
  2. Those that may be sold by a Pharmacy or Chemist. The shop assistant will be able to give you advice and instructions on using the medication.
  3. General retail. These medicines are generally recognized as safe and tend to be available in smaller package sizes only. Examples of these drugs are: nicotine patches, painkillers and some antacids.

Ordering online

If you want to order medicines online, do so from an authorized supplier. Only then can you be certain the medicines are safe. You cannot get prescription medicines without a prescription. A legal medicine supplier will never give you prescription medicines if you do not have a prescription from a Doctor.

Doctors, including online doctors, may only prescribe you medicines if they meet certain conditions. For example, they must have access to your medical records, which must be up to date.