Pharmacies and All-Night Drug Stores

Almost any medicine you need you’ll find at your friendly local pharmacy (Apotheke). In fact, even most non-prescription medicines can be found only at the pharmacy (Vitamins and various non-medicinal health aids can be picked up at supermarkets or beauty and health-care shops, the latter confusingly called Drogerie). There’s no such problem with prescription drugs, since if you’re in a health insurance program, these products are subsidized. If you are insured through the state system, you will need to make a co-payment of between 5-10 euros depending on the price of the medicine. Prescription medications are entirely free for children.

If your local pharmacy doesn’t have your required medicine in stock, they can order it and usually get it by the next day – sometimes even before closing time. Pharmacies generally close at 6:30 p.m. However, you can always get prescription medication at any hour of the day by going to the pharmacy emergency service (Notdienst). Pharmacies take turns staying open all-night, and there is a small sign prominently displayed in the front window that lists the shops participating in the all-night program.

Once you have found the pharmacy, you ring the doorbell and a pharmacist or assistant will come to a small window near the door to serve you (rarely do they open their doors after official opening hours). This is quite convenient for anyone needing sudden, minor treatment for things like headaches, hangovers and upset stomachs, but they will also fill any prescriptions that you were unable to get filled during the day (provided they have the medicine in stock). The statutory national health insurance generally provides reimbursement for prescription generic drugs, though with a co-payment, the scale of which depends on the cost of the medication. Note that prescription drugs for children have no co-payments.

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