Pharmacy / medication

The apotheek, the pharmacy or chemist, is where you obtain prescribed drugs and other related items, such as non-prescription cough syrup, vitamins, pain relievers and homeopathic medicines. You may be surprised to find that some items are only available by prescription in The Netherlands, even though they may be available without a prescription in another country (and vice-versa).

You can choose which pharmacy you want to use. You’ll find telephone numbers and addresses in the telephone book or yellow pages. It’s best to always use the same pharmacist as they’ll know what medicines you’re currently taking and can advise on combinations and interactions.

Recept is the Dutch word for prescription. Prescriptions may only be given by a doctor. He or she may ask which pharmacy you would like to collect your medicine from and contact them on your behalf. Employees at the pharmacy are qualified, licensed pharmacists and can answer your questions about the drugs you are getting and about minor medical complaints. Opening hours are usually 08.00 -17.30 hrs, Mondays-Fridays and most are open for a few hours on Saturdays as well. If you need medication outside opening hours, you can go to a dienstapotheek or emergency pharmacy. They are meant only for prescription medication and/or refills. See emergency pharmacy.

Your GP can recommend medication and give you a prescription (recept). If you live in a country where the doctor usually prescribes medicine for your ailments, then you may be surprised that Dutch doctors are often likely to recommend that you simply go home and rest. Dutch doctors are more carefull on prescribing antibiotics than most other countries. The medicines in The Netherlands are not always the same medicines prescribed in other countries. If you are taking medication prescribed to you in another country, it is best to show these to your doctor and/or pharmacist.

Non-prescription drugs
Some medicines don’t require a prescription and these are also available at the apotheek or pharmacy. The pharmacist there is also available to provide advice about medicines and their uses. A drogist or drogisterij is a shop that sells over-the-counter medicines, especially homeopathic medicines, as well as day-to-day personal hygiene items, perfumes, baby supplies, etc. They are usually less expensive than at a pharmacy. If you go to a drogist and ask for a non-prescription allergy reliever, you may get something quite different than you would get at your chemist.