Pharmacies in Germany
A pharmacy in Germany is called an Apotheke. Apotheken are easily identified by a large, red A on the outside of their locations. There are thousands of Apotheken in Germany and German law requires that an Apotheke be owned and operated by a pharmacist. An individual pharmacist is only allowed to own up to three locations. Consequently, there are not any large drugstore chains that are found throughout countries like the USA. In fact, a “drug store” in Germany (Drogerie) sells toiletries and other consumer items, but not medicines.
All medications, including non-prescription drugs, are kept on shelves behind the counter or in large drawers behind the counter or in a back room. There is normally a selection of different types of non-medicinal health related products in the pharmacy. Included in that selection you could expect homeopathic products. Pharmacists are highly trained and will always ask if you understand the dosages regarding prescriptions. They can also offer advice on non-prescription medicines, ointments and other products that you can use to treat minor ailments. Most drugs are in packs that come in three different sizes – N1, N2 and N3. (Small, medium and large) The actual number of pills packaged depends on the medication itself. There is always a paper in the packaging that explains in detail what the medicine is designed to treat, recommended dosages, contra-indications and other important information.
A wide variety of name brand drugs as well as generic drugs are normally kept on hand. If a medicine you need is not in stock, it can usually be ordered for pick up in a few hours or the following day.
Apotheken are generally closed evenings, Saturday afternoons, Sundays and holidays. (Some may even close early on Wednesdays.) Each of them has a list on the door, though, of pharmacies that have remained open to handle emergencies.
For information on prescriptions and how to pay for them see the article on Paying Medical Expenses and Insurance Claims.