Where can I buy medicines in the Netherlands?

You can only buy prescription drugs at a pharmacy. Over-the-counter drugs can be bought at chemists and supermarkets without a prescription.

Buying prescription drugs

Prescription drugs are medicines that you can only get if you have a doctor’s prescription. They are dispensed by a pharmacist.

Buying 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 station. The three classes of over-the-counter drugs are:

  • May only be sold by a pharmacy

    Some over-the-counter drugs (UA class) 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.
  • May be sold by a pharmacy or chemist

    Over-the-counter drugs in the UAD class may be sold by a pharmacy or chemist. The shop assistant will be able to give you advice and instructions on using the medication.
  • General retail

    Over-the-counter drugs in the general retail class (AV) may be sold by any retailer. These medicines are generally recognised as safe and tend to be available in smaller package sizes only. Examples of these drugs are:
    • nicotine patches;
    • painkillers;
    • some antacids.

Buying medicines over the internet

If you want to order medicines online, do so from an authorised supplier. Only then can you be certain the medicines are safe.