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OTC drugs in Germany

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Nov 25th, 2013, 04:24 AM
  #1
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OTC drugs in Germany

There is a thread in the fodorite lounge that had me thinking about differences in my country and others. I am a season traveler so am usually not surprised at much but this had me scratching my head on a recent trip to Germany.
I was looking for some alcohol as I could hear water sloshing in my eardrum. I think the shower was positioned strangely and in rinsing my hair got water in my ear, that and sinus problems. I am good about bringing an assortment of otc stuff but had no rubbing alcohol so off I went to the pharmacy.

There is no rubbing alcohol for sale in Germany. I think they are the hardest country to even buy something for a headache over the weekend but no alcohol was weird in my view. I explained and explained to the pharmacist and he came up with a solution for me. He put some in a tiny 10 ml bottle and charged me 3 euro. He said there is a huge tax on alcohol so they don't carry it to sell. I will bring swimmer ear solution next trip. I must say I think the pines got to me and asked for something for my sinus and was given a total herbal pill for 18 euro. It really did not help the headache but was interesting concoction of herbs. I later saw the muscinex ads in a window and should have pointed to that!
My question is if beer is cheaper to buy than a cup of coffee why is rubbing alcohol so expensive?
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Nov 25th, 2013, 04:31 AM
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Because of the alcohol content. The tax is on the percentage of alcohol in a product.
I must admit I have never heard of putting alcohol in your ear.
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Nov 25th, 2013, 04:47 AM
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It dries out the ear drum. I use to get swimmers ear from waves in the ocean. My mom would put drops of alcohol in my ear and you tilt you ear and can can feel warm water rush out. They make an expensive solution called swimmer's ear but it is mostly alcohol.
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Nov 25th, 2013, 04:55 AM
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Don't you just pull on your earlobe? I'm not sure the alcohol is doing anything.
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Nov 25th, 2013, 05:06 AM
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"if beer is cheaper to buy than a cup of coffee why is rubbing alcohol so expensive?"
It is the same in France - taxes by Customs. The only alcohol available in a pharmacy is 'modified" i.e. 40% or 70% alcohol contents + usually methanol. I live near Spain and buy alcohol (96% pure) at the first Spanish supermarket across the border for the grand total of €1.40 half a liter !
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Nov 25th, 2013, 05:09 AM
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I assume there might have been a problem in communication.
If rubbing alcohol is just pure alcohol you get in any drugstore in the cleaning goods section. Costs maybe 2 euros or less. In a pharmacy, I would ask for alcohol for desinfection.
But as hetismij I have never heard of someone pouring it into his ears.
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Nov 25th, 2013, 05:18 AM
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Pvoyageuse, ok, makes sense.

Active Ingredient: Isopropyl Alcohol (95%) in Anhydrous Glycerin (5%). Inactive Ingredient: Purified Water.
Swimmers eardrops.
I have lived near the Atlantic ocean swimming a lot and even when scuba diving would put this in my ears to prevent ear problems. My dogs have an earwash from the vets and it is mostly alcohol. It works and no, tugging on my earlobe doesn't work. It you ever had swimmers ear you would always do this to prevent it. It is the most painful thing.
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Nov 25th, 2013, 06:16 AM
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They sell eardrops at the Apotheke. That's how I prevent my swimmer's ear, which I am oh so very prone to.

Otalgan Ohrentropfen is what I buy.
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Nov 25th, 2013, 06:55 AM
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For the doubters among you:

I am a distance swimmer and often have problems with water entering the ears and causing discomfort and, once, infection.

My ENT (ear, nose, throat specialist) recommended a few drops of a solution of vinegar and alcohol after each long swim. This is a very common remedy in the US and is the base for many OTC products.

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/swi...ION=prevention
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Nov 25th, 2013, 09:23 AM
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I think there may have been some kind of misunderstanding -- I've had no problems at all finding isopropyl alcohol in the Apotheke.

When a corner of my bedroom started growing a bit of mold, my house manager suggested that I buy some alcohol from the Apotheke and treat it with that. At the Apotheke, I explained what I wanted and why I wanted it, and they sold it to me, no problem. I got 200 ml for a few Euro.

s
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Nov 25th, 2013, 10:47 AM
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>>>I must admit I have never heard of putting alcohol in your ear.<<<

The alcohol helps to dry the ear out.
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Nov 25th, 2013, 12:43 PM
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swandav, I went to the one by the train station in Garmisch. He tried selling me the 11.00 ear drops because they had alcohol in them but told him I didn't need all the ear wax removal stuff that came with it. He then said he would sell me the little tiny bottle for 3 euro. It was Oberland apotheke. I had tried two other stores before that one. I never asked for rubbing or Isopropyl Alcohol just alcohol. I am amazed between Germany and say the UK for the drugs you can buy in the store versus what you have to ask for. A friend got very sick in Munich on Saturday and all he needed was a laxative and had to wait till Monday. The food got to him I think. We don't have exchange privileges in Germany but was about to ask someone who did to go get me a bottle if that failed. The exchange has all that stuff but we weren't on orders.
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Nov 25th, 2013, 01:13 PM
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Germany and Austria also sell no OTC medication for tinea (athlete's foot). You have to have a prescription from a doctor. In the end my husband treated his problem with neat tea tree oil, which we sometimes use for the problem in Australia, and which was freely available in the Apotheken.

Lavandula
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Nov 25th, 2013, 10:39 PM
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Why did he have to wait until Monday?

If all your friend needed was a laxative, trusty ol' prune juice works.
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Nov 25th, 2013, 10:42 PM
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Hi again,

Well, there is *always* an Apotheke open in the neighborhood, even on Sunday; they rotate the duty. All of the Apothekes will have a sign showing which one will be open that weekend. Probably your friend didn't know what sign to look for. Was he in a hotel? An apartment?

Sorry you had some trouble, but I do think it was just a misunderstanding. I've learned to do some research using google language tools and asking lots of questions before I try to buy something.

s
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Nov 26th, 2013, 03:32 AM
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>> am amazed between Germany and say the UK for the drugs you can buy in the store versus what you have to ask for.<<

Me too. Once in Munich, I was told Imodium was on prescription only in Germany - and even if I needed to know that, that was, shall we say, not the time I wanted to hear it. Fortunately the assistant saw the expression on my face and found something else that did the trick, but it was an anxious moment. (Top tip - the magic phrase is "Ich brauche dringend etwas gegen Durchfall, bitte").
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Nov 26th, 2013, 04:03 AM
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@lavandula: products for athletes foot are (at least in Germany) available OTC (or as they say in Germany; rezeptfrei). The mayor brand is Canesten. But they also sell Lamisil.

You will have to ask for it, in Germany you can't get OTC off the shelf of drugstores like in a lot other countries. But when you ask, they will sell it to you OTC.

@PatrickLondon: Imodium is als OTC available. See the text on their website: Nein. Alle Produkte von IMODIUM® akut sind rezeptfrei in Apotheken erhältlich.
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Nov 26th, 2013, 04:33 AM
  #18
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Interesting about the rotating duty swandav2000. He was in an apartment in Munich. I never saw anything open in Munich on Sunday except cafes and beer houses.
I am usually prepared for all things. I think it was Belgium or France that had a big window display of items and you chose what you needed and put the money in for after hours and it would dispense them. Items like baby products, women's products, pain medicines etc. I thought that was great.
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Nov 26th, 2013, 04:39 AM
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The Apothekes open on Sundays/holidays/after hours aren't always on the main drags. At least you know for next time that in any German city, there will be at least one Apotheke open at any given time.
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Nov 26th, 2013, 09:51 AM
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You can't tell that the Apotheke is open. If you need something, you ring the door bell and they come to the door, you don't go inside. All transactions are through a small opening.

Every Apotheke will have a sign on the door listing the locations for the open ones and on which days. Alternative is to simply look it up online, rather than roam around the neighborhood.

Airports and large train station will also have open Apothekes after hours and on Sundays and holidays.

FYI tip, if you need Aspirin, make sure you ask for the generic or equivalent stuff, otherwise you pay for the original name brand "Aspirin", and it costs 4 times as much.
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