There is a difference between a drugstore or chemist (drogist) and a pharmacy (apotheek). Drugstores supply non-prescription medications and baby equipment, general toiletries, cosmetics, etc. Pharmacies are the only outlet for prescription drugs. Pharmacies in an area have a 24/7 coverage.
Pharmacies also sell over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, special baby foods, etc., and will provide advice and ensure that medications do not interact with any other drugs you may already be taking. Pharmacies are also expert on the use of medicines during pregnancy or breast-feeding. Generally, pharmacies also sell cosmetics, care products, homeopathic and phytotherapeutic products, and medical equipment for home care.
There is a standard as to which medications one can buy with or without prescription. The Dutch system is rather restrictive and you may find you need prescriptions for things you were able to buy over the counter at home. Also the insurance companies dictate which medications are covered, and which brand. Most GPs have an on-line connection with a pharmacy, so usually your prescription can be picked up right after you finish your consultation with your GP. If you are a regular user of a certain prescription your may order refills directly from the pharmacy after they have been informed by your GP. If you bring your insurance card the first time you visit your pharmacy, they can register all your family members and send your (future) invoices directly to your (Dutch) insurance provider.
Variety of pharmacies
There are various kinds of pharmacies, e.g.:
- The public pharmacy - the normal city or village pharmacy
- The hospital pharmacy - for preparation and deliverance to hospital patients
- Transmural pharmacy - a hospital pharmacy that also delivers to non-hospitalised patients
- Pharmacy in a drugstore - relatively new concept
- Online pharmacy - order your medication online: secure.nationale-apotheek.nl (Only available in Dutch)
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