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Buying Medicine From Pharmacies

Icheepoo

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Portuguese Camino (Sept 2022)
Is it easy to buy medicine like NSAIDS, paracetamol, antihistamines, etc at the pharmacies along the camino. Or do they require a prescription? Am hoping to cut down my pack weight by packing minimal medicinal supplies which I may or may not end up using.
 
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dougfitz

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
It depends. Paracetamol is not available in the EU in the modified release form I can get in Australia, and ibuprofen is supplied in a much larger dose in Spain, albeit in a tablet form that can be split. That said, most other medicines that I don't need a prescription for at home are available at pharmacies in Spain and Portugal.

My approach is to bring prescription medication for the length of my stay away, as well as medications I know I won't be able to get while I am away. I bring a small quantity of other medications, and if I need to use them I will replace them along the way at a pharmacy. I also bring the prescription and a letter from my doctor listing what I am taking and why.

If you have specific medications you do obtain over the counter, you might want to check Eudrapharm, the EU human medicines database to see if what equivalents will be available.
 

henrythedog

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
X
It depends. Paracetamol is not available in the EU in the modified release form I can get in Australia, and ibuprofen is supplied in a much larger dose in Spain, albeit in a tablet form that can be split. That said, most other medicines that I don't need a prescription for at home are available at pharmacies in Spain and Portugal.

My approach is to bring prescription medication for the length of my stay away, as well as medications I know I won't be able to get while I am away. I bring a small quantity of other medications, and if I need to use them I will replace them along the way at a pharmacy. I also bring the prescription and a letter from my doctor listing what I am taking and why.

If you have specific medications you do obtain over the counter, you might want to check Eudrapharm, the EU human medicines database to see if what equivalents will be available.
The ibuprofen point is certainly well made. I used to think that the Spanish version ‘worked better’ until I actually read the packet and found they were 400mg tabs not the 200mg more common in the UK.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
2023
The prior advice is good. The only other thing to take into account is that each region of Spain manages medical matters separately and you will pass through different regions and so what you can get over the counter in one region may differ from the next.

For over the counter stuff this will often manifest itself as differing maximum doses available. For example, in one region I could buy 600+ mg Ibuprofen over the counter while in another region this was limited to 400.
 
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Icheepoo

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Portuguese Camino (Sept 2022)
So far I'm not on any regular medicine for long term illnesses. Just mainly wanting to know if I'll be able to get medication for illnesses that I may get into while on/because of the camino.. like pain killers, muscle relaxants, allergy meds and such...
 

trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
So far I'm not on any regular medicine for long term illnesses. Just mainly wanting to know if I'll be able to get medication for illnesses that I may get into while on/because of the camino.. like pain killers, muscle relaxants, allergy meds and such...
Muscle relaxants are usually prescription only, not over the counter medications.
 

Margaret Butterworth

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2013 (Pamplona to Burgos)
2014 (Burgos to Villafranca del Bierzo)
2015 (Villafranca to Santiago)
2016 (Le Puy to Conques; SJPP To Pamplona)
Often on this forum, advice is given that "Spain is not a third world country" and most things you need will be available. Bear in mind, though, that many shops including pharmacies do not open till 10.00 am and most peregrinos want to be on the road a few hours before that. For this reason alone, I would bring along medications etc so that I don't have to hang around waiting for shops to open.
 

trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
Often on this forum, advice is given that "Spain is not a third world country" and most things you need will be available. Bear in mind, though, that many shops including pharmacies do not open till 10.00 am and most peregrinos want to be on the road a few hours before that. For this reason alone, I would bring along medications etc so that I don't have to hang around waiting for shops to open.
Yes, you don't need to bring full bottles - just enough to tide you over until you can get to a pharmacy.
 

Sheesh

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2009, 2013, (2022)
Good advice above, plus I would add that a couple of doses of Imodium or equivalent are good to have on hand. If diarrhea hits, it often hits QUICKLY and a pharmacy could still be some distance off.
 
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hawkeyepierce

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances July 22
I had no trouble getting antifungal cream, magnesium supplements and nasal allergy spray at various points along the way. Many pharmacies have English-speaking staff.
 

pjacobi

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2015, St. Jean Pied de Port to Burgos
2016, Burgos to Ponferrada
2017, Ponferrada to Atlantic Ocean
Note that in the US, paracetamol is known as acetaminophen (brand name Tylenol).


-Paul
 
Time of past OR future Camino
2002, Toulouse/Aragon 2005, Cami S Jaume/Aragon 2007/9, Mont Saint Michel/Norte/Vadiniense 2011, Norte/Primitivo 2013, Norte/Primitivo 2014. Norte 2015, Cami S Jaume/Castellano-Aragonese 2016
I always advise people to make pdfs of their prescriptions, and save them as attachments in their drafts folder. In my experience, Spanish and French pharmacists have no trouble in filling these prescriptions. Most larger drug companies are quite international and their more popular products are easily obtained. In addition, most Spanish pharmacists have some English, and local laws and practice enable them to undertake minor first aid procedures. I have always found them competent and helpful.
 
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WGroleau

Wandering Weirdo
Time of past OR future Camino
2015 & 2016 (partial)
Is it easy to buy medicine like NSAIDS, paracetamol, antihistamines, etc at the pharmacies along the camino. Or do they require a prescription? Am hoping to cut down my pack weight by packing minimal medicinal supplies which I may or may not end up using.
As already said, none of those require a prescription. I also bought lisinopril, levothyroxine, and metformin without prescription for less than my co-pay in USA (where they do require a prescription). I was also on liothyronine, which is not available in Spain, but the pharmacist and I figured out that I'd probably be OK by changing the dose of the levothyroxine. (An e-mail to my US doc got his approval for the suggested adjustment.)
 

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