If you are living here in Spain or just visiting, there may come a time when you need to visit a local pharmacy for some medication.
Unlike other countries such as the UK, you can’t simply walk into your local shop or supermarket and pick up a few boxes of Paracetamol or Ibuprofen as these are not allowed to be sold here in shops. You need to visit your local pharmacy for ALL medicines.
Pharmacies in Spain differ from those that you may find in other countries in that the pharmacists are highly trained and hold similar qualifications to a GP. This means that many Spaniards bypass visiting their doctor and go straight to the pharmacy when it comes to resolving minor ailments.
Most towns will have at least one pharmacy and how many there are will depend on the overall size of the population of the town. 24 hour pharmacies are also available in most areas.
For further information on pharmacies, please read our article about pharmacies in Spain.
Can You Get Antibiotics over the Counter in Spain?
A common question that many visitors to Spain ask is ‘Can you buy antibiotics over the counter in Spain?’.
We hear this question all the time and the answer is NO, you cannot legally buy antibiotics over the counter here in Spain.
By law, you can only get antibiotics (antibióticos) from a pharmacist in Spain if you have a prescription (receta) from your doctor or a hospital.
Saying that, we continue to hear of stories from people on forums and elsewhere on the web stating that there are some Spanish pharmacies that are still selling antibiotics over the counter. This is not the norm though and as mentioned previously, it is illegal.
Prescribing antibiotics to the wrong person can cause adverse effects and further health complications. Not only that, the over prescribing of antibiotics will ultimately lead to antibiotic resistance, which in turn will lead to more expensive medical costs, longer hospital stays and an increase in mortality rates.
The misuse of antibiotics has become a worldwide issue in recent years to the point that the WHO (World Health Organisation) described antibiotic resistance as one of the biggest threats to global health.
How Much Are Antibiotics in Spain?
The cost of your antibiotics and prescriptions in general will vary depending on your level of income and whether you are a pensioner or not. For a current list of prescription co-payment charges you can see our Spanish co-payment prescriptions page.
If you are feeling unwell for any reason, go see your local pharmacist first. They are very helpful and will be able to advise on your best course of action. Many will also speak English, especially in tourist areas. If they are unable to help, they will refer you to your GP. In most cases though you should be able to get the help you require.
You can find your nearest pharmacist in Spain using the following handy web page http://farmaciasguardia.portalfarma.com/web_guardias/publico/mapa.asp?c=800
Pharmacy Insurance Cover
This option provides reimbursement of 50% of your prescribed drugs and medicines up to a maximum of €200. So for example, If your annual prescription costs were €400, you would receive reimbursement of €200 for the year.
This additional cover can only be added on contraction or renewal of the health insurance plan you decide to take out.
There are no waiting times or exclusions with this option. All insured parties on your policy must take the option, which costs €4 per person, per month.