Buying medicines abroad: What you should definitely bear in mind

Buying medicines abroad: What you should definitely bear in mind

Medicines are often cheaper abroad than in Germany. Read here what regulations apply to imports and what you need to know before you buy.

Headache tablets, pills for digestive problems or fever syrup for the little ones – in a well-stocked household at least the most important emergency medication should always be available. However, since equipping the medicine cabinet can quickly become expensive, more and more people are tending to buy their medicines abroad. In many holiday destinations popular with Germans, medicines are often a lot cheaper than in Germany, which is why it can definitely be worth stopping at the pharmacy or drugstore before you return home.

However, the applicable legal regulations must be observed when importing medicinal products. And this is not only about the customs regulations of the Federal Republic, but also partly about the restrictions of the Narcotics Act. As long as all these factors are taken into account, nothing stands in the way of buying bargain medicines while on vacation. So that you can start your next trip with peace of mind, we have put together all the important information about buying medicines abroad for you here.

There are strict regulations for the import of medicines in Germany

In principle, it is permitted to import medicines and other health products into Germany. However, medicines cannot be brought in unlimited quantities and some medicines that are freely available abroad are subject to much stricter regulations in this country.

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As the consumer advice center explains in an article on the subject, only medicines for personal use may be imported into Germany. So if you plan to buy on a large scale in order to later make a profit with the cheaper pills, you are breaking the law. In general, only an amount that lasts for about three months according to the instructions on the package leaflet may be brought along. It does not matter whether the drug is over-the-counter or requires a prescription. If you have a valid prescription for the medicine, you are free to purchase medicines that require a doctor’s prescription abroad and bring them with you to Germany. In this case, you should always have the appropriate prescription or at least a letter from your doctor with you as proof. Caution is advised when entering the country from a special customs or tax area: Other regulations may apply here, which you should definitely find out about before you leave.

Buying medicines abroad: It is not always what is on the inside

Of course, there are also challenges when buying medicines abroad. Language barriers or a general lack of knowledge about medicines can quickly lead to the wrong preparations being bought, which in the worst case can even lead to health complications. While commonly needed drugs such as headache pills are often sold under the same name around the world, this is not the case for all drugs. Some of the names sound very similar, although they are two completely different preparations with different effects.

You should therefore always find out more about the active ingredients of the drug in question before you buy it. In addition, the purchase itself can also become a trap. Because the interest in inexpensive medicines has also called dubious dealers into action in many places. No matter how tempting the offer may seem, only buy your medicines abroad from pharmacies and reputable shops. Otherwise, you may risk serious health consequences.

You should rather keep your hands off certain preparations

As long as you observe the applicable regulations, nothing stands in the way of buying your medicines abroad. Nevertheless, certain medicines should continue to be better obtained in this country so that there are no problems when entering the country. Among other things, these are preparations that are subject to the Narcotics Act in Germany. This can be the case, for example, with psychotropic drugs such as ADHD medication. The consumer advice center also warns against importing banned substances, some of which are misused for doping purposes. This includes anabolic substances such as hormones and growth factors, which are used, for example, by trans people during their gender reassignment process. Caution is also required with food supplements, natural remedies or so-called lifestyle preparations, as they may contain substances that are subject to strict regulations in Germany. If in doubt, it is better not to bring these medicines with you when you are on holiday.

This article only contains general information on the respective health topic and is therefore not intended for self-diagnosis, treatment or medication. In no way does it replace a visit to the doctor. Unfortunately, our editorial team cannot answer individual questions about clinical pictures.


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