Making Sense of Pharmacies in Hungary

by Réka Morvay on September 12, 2010

Making Sense of Pharmacies in Hungary

Laws regulating pharmacies differ from country to country.  Calling in a prescription over the phone is common practice in the US, but doctors cannot call in, fax, or email an order in Hungary; a physical prescription is necessary.  The pharmacist can honor the prescription for a month from the date it was written, and can give you only the amount specified. In other words, there are no refills.  If one has a Hungarian social security number (TAJ szám), then the government pays a large fraction of the cost of most drugs. Even without this subsidy, prescription medication is significantly more affordable than in the United States.  Over-the-counter medications are available almost exclusively from pharmacies. “Drug stores” like DM and Rossman carry precious little by way of medications. Even newborn baby formula requires a prescription, although formula for babies over 6 months may be purchased at grocery stores and large baby-equipment outlets like Brendon. Rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide are also stocked exclusively in pharmacies. Items such as cough and cold syrups often need to be requested from the pharmacist, even if they are over-the-counter. They may not be displayed on shelves within reach of the customer.

For your convenience, below you can find information on 24-hour pharmacies as well as a compilation of commonly used, over-the-counter medications and their generic and international equivalents.

After-Hours Pharmacies

Hours of operation vary from store to store, but there is a 24-hour pharmacy on the Buda side, Déli Gyógyszertár (Alkotás út 1/b, right across from Déli Train Station).  An after-hours pharmacy on the austin tx pest control is side is Teréz Gyógyszertár (6th district, Teréz körút 41). If neither of these is convenient, look for a sign on the door of your local pharmacy indicating where you can find the closest store with 24-service. Pharmacy signs typically have either a green cross, a serpent/bowl motif, green lettering, or some combination of these.

Both gyógyszertár and patika are used interchangeably to mean pharmacy.

A Note on Measurements

One teaspoon= 5 ml. Never use the cap or syringe from one bottle of medicine to measure syrup from a different bottle. Do not assume that if you needed a tablespoon of Tylenol in the UK, then you need the same amount of Panadol in Europe, as concentrations of the active ingredient may vary.  This holds even for cases where you are using the same brand of medicine.

Fever Reducers and pain relievers

1.  Acetaminophen= Paracetamol= Tylenol (USA)=Panadol (Europe)=Rubophen= Calpol (UK)=Accamole (Israel)
This is the safest and most popular pain and fever medicine. It is dosed 10 to 15 mg per kilogram of body weight in children, given every four hours as necessary. It comes in syrup, suppository, capsule, tablet and effervescent tablet forms.

2.   Ibuprofen=Motrin=Advil=Nurofen
Great for high fevers, muscular aches and pains. Harsher on the belly than paracetamol. Give with food.

3.  Aminophenazon=Amidazophen=Germicid
This is not available in the US because of rare but serious side effects. The Germicid C variety contains a barbiturate, intended to sedate ill children. By prescription only.

Antitussives

A myriad of formulations are available, go by active ingredients.

Herbal remedies usually taste great and have no side effects, but are less likely to actually help:  Dr Theiss Hustensaft, Stodal

Dextromethorphan, also called DM: Robitussin Cough,  Dimetapp DM, Delsym, Pediacare Cough, Triaminic Cough

Nasal Decongestants

Salt water drops, otherwise known as saline drops: Sterimar=Ayr=Ocean

Medicated decongestant nose drops: Otrivin, Nasivin

Antihistamines, first generation

Active ingredients: chlorpheniramine, brompheniramine, fenistil, clemastine and diphenhydramine(benadryl).  Fenistil, the most popular  antihistamine in Hungary, is chemically similar to Benadryl. The gel is available over the counter, the drops and suspension require a prescription.

Recently, second generation antihistamines Claritin and Zyrtec have also been made available over-the-counter.

Beta agonists (asthma medication)

Ventolin=Proventil=Salbutamol=Albuterol (by prescription only)

If, after consultation with the pharmacist, you are unsure of which medication is appropriate for you, do not hesitate to call your physician for advice.

Kinga Jokay, M.D., Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics
Rózsakert Medical Center

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Nathalie Marquet June 8, 2015 at 4:38 pm

Where would I go to buy Cortisone ointment or Benadryl tablets. I have a heat rash on my neck and don’t know where to get these things. Would you know about this?
I am staying here in Budapest until Thursday in District 5 about one block away from the Opera House.
Please respond whether you can help.
Thank you, Nathalie

Reply

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