Medication in Spain

Good morning everyone,

Whether it's a simple cold or a chronic illness, medication and medicine use vary from country to country and culture to culture.

When you are used to certain brands or types of drugs, being in a country like Spain with different rules can affect your daily well-being.

Some drugs also differ in name, price, dosage, active molecule, so we would like to hear your opinion on these issues:

Have you ever had difficulties finding familiar or useful medicines for your health in your host country?

Have you ever been faced with a shortage of medicines in Spain?

Would you have said that in Spain drugs are more or less expensive than in your home country? Do you find them more or less effective or of similar quality?

What is the place of alternative medicines in your host country? Have you ever used them?

Thank you in advance for your feedback,


Hi Sloic

You can get any medication in Spain, like most countries antibiotics etc you can only buy witha doctors  subscription , alternative medication made of natural plants etc yiu easely get there are many herbolariums  around, specially when you life in a larger city.

If you have right to the spanish social security the prices of medicines are cheap, I dear to say that Spain probably has one europes best social security system.

Hope this helps you a bit, if you have any other questions or doubts please send an emall and i will be happy to help you out.

Jean Patrick

Have you ever had difficulty finding familiar or useful medication in your adopted country? Not really, most of them are widely available unless you're taking something extremely specific. You will be needing a prescription, but sometimes they pharmacist will spare you the pain... you can nearly find everything but the OTC concept is not like in the U.S. or some places in LatAm and you will not find such a broad assortment of OTC products as you would find in the U.S. If you have a prescription with the name and or active ingredients it should work - you could get away w/ a prescription drafted in another country but you'll be subject to full price. Don't know if Social Security from other EU States work here....

Have you ever faced drug shortages in Spain? Not yet, but I've heard about them. Usually they have other options.

Would you say that in Spain medicines are more or less expensive than in your home country? This depends. If you have social security drugs are usually added to your social security card and they're subsidized and there's an abysmal price difference between retail and subsidized drugs. Now, compared to the U.S. drugs here can be cheaper (not all), to give you an example, Ventolin (in the U.S. it's around 45 USD and here it's 5€). Drugs in the U.S. are awful expensive...

If you go to a Doctor here to get a prescription you'll be charged...

Hi, I have not found difficulty in obtaining medication that I need here in Spain.  The prescription medications are most certainly cheaper than in the UK.  Brands are different but, for me the outcome is the same.  I find the public health service exceptionally good.

I am retired and in the national health system here in Spain. Blood pressure pills, pain killers, eye drops all on prescription and very cheap. To buy privately my eye drops are around 28€ and paracetamol 24€ so if private, expensive.
Overall the health system is very good with the only major problem is getting an interpreter to go with you to the docs.
Hope this helps.

That's right as you write. Currently, I pay 10% of the price up to a maximum amount per month for medicine.
In the past it was free and it is said that it will be free again.
Doctor visits and care are completely free if you are retired and enrolled in the system.

Hello elcanario93,
I will appreciate your input on the requirements for enrolling in the National health system. We are residents on non-lucrative visa and I am a senior.
By the way, going by your handle, I can't help but ask if you are located in the Canaries because we will be heading there in a few months to find a long-term rental.
Thanks for your attention,  -nowretired

Yes Sir, I live in the Canarias full time since 1993...

I was surprised this morning.  I wanted to buy paracetamol 1gm.  The chemist told me they could not sell the brand paracetamol in 1 gm  without a prescription, but could sell the 500 mg.  tablets of that brand.

However they could sell a generic brand in 1 gm.   That was 3.90 € for a pack of 10 tablets, quite a bit more expensive.

I have not yet spoken to my doctor.

We are on the health service in Spain, via the "residents prior to April 2012" etc.  We've had no problems accessing medication though you have to remember to go to a Farmacia for even paracetamol, as generally they're not available elsewhere. I did buy the equivalent of Vick menthol rub recently and nearly had a coronary to have been charged more than €7 for a wee tub!
Prescription costs are very low - my husband recently suffered a perforated bowel following a routine colonoscopy, and has a temporary ileostomy. The bags etc he needs to deal with this would cost nearly €100 for a month's supply - we paid €9 so I'm not complaining! Home country is Northern Ireland where all prescriptions are free but they're hardly expensive here so no worries!

Johncar :

I was surprised this morning.  I wanted to buy paracetamol 1gm.  The chemist told me they could not sell the brand paracetamol in 1 gm  without a prescription, but could sell the 500 mg.  tablets of that brand.

In that case you should book an appt with your PC Physician, and get the prescription for the 1mg tablets.

Hi Loic,
Wel if I can give you a piece of advice, paracetamol is very harmful for your leverand make you dependent .
After a back injury I had to take some for an extended period of time and that led me to emergency for lever failure. I'm not a drank but I was taking that drug at 1g.
So stick to the smallest dosage.
If you think you need it then you're already in trouble, go to your doctor.

Get well,

When I use paracetamol it is on medical advice.   I am on anti coagulant medication which means I cannot use anything, like aspirin.  My wife suffers from migraine, she is recommended by doctor to use 1g caps of paracetamol.

I just visited my pharmacist again.  I have resolved the ‘misunderstanding.’

Until maybe six months ago one could buy over the counter boxes of 40 x 1 gram paracetamol caps.  The law was then changed as they could be dangerous.   After that to buy more that 10 x 1 g paracetamol caps one needed a doctor’s prescription.

So the situation:  A person cannot buy 40 1gm caps without a prescription, priced at about 3 euros. However,  a person can buy 4 boxes  of 10 x 1g caps , at a total cost of almost 16 euros. Maybe they think better off people are more intelligent than poor people !

I hate to complain about officialdom, especially in Spain, but it is absolutely stupid. If I waste the time of my doctor, risk infection etc. I can get an online prescription.  I can then get 40  x 1gm caps every month for a year (far more than I need) at about 30 cents for  40 x 1g  (10% of the cost as it would be on a prescription, or probably free as 10% my existing meds cost already exceed 8 € per month) !!!!!

Indeed, paracetamol is a very dangerous drug as it attacks your lever.
A few years ago, I broke my back and had to take it for the pain.
I ended at emergency with a severe drug induced cirrhosis with which I'll have to live for the rest of my life.
I have a very strict diet to avoid a cancer or a transplantation.😢
May I mention that I DO NOT DRINK.
so be careful, I was one of the first cases ever and now it's proven so measures are taken.
For just pain, try plants or ask your doctor for non lever-toxic drugs 😉

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