How To Get Your Prescriptions In Austria
You do not need to register with a specific pharmacy in Austria in order to get your prescriptions. You will need to be registered with a local doctor, which you can do by taking your proof of ID and your e-card along to a surgery. Your doctor will then prescribe medication when you need it, and you will be able to pick this up at a pharmacy of your choice.You can also buy some medicines over the counter in Austria, although the specific drugs on offer might differ from what you are able to buy in your home country, so if you often rely on over-the-counter medications then make sure you will still be able to buy them before you arrive.
There will usually be a nominal fee to pay for your prescriptions — around €5 — but the state health insurance will cover the rest. If you have taken out private health cover, then you will need to check with your insurer to see which prescriptions will be covered.
Austria has strict rules around bringing medications into the country. Only pharmacy representatives and other medical professionals are generally allowed to bring medications through customs. However, there are exceptions made for people who are bringing medicine for their own personal use.
If the medication you take is not a restricted substance, then you are allowed to bring it with you. You can bring up to three standard size packs of medication, for example three boxes of paracetamol.
If your medication requires a prescription, then you will need to bring a letter from your doctor explaining why you need it. The letter must include your personal information; why you need the medication; how long you are planning to stay; the generic name of the medication you take; and what dosage you require. You might also be asked for a certified translation of the letter into German, so it is worth getting this done ahead of time so that you are not caught out when you arrive. Leaving the medication in its original packaging will also make the process run more smoothly.
Before you come to Austria, make sure that any medications you take are not restricted under the Addictive Substances Act. Anything that is considered psychotropic or addictive will probably be listed here, including certain antidepressants and ADHD medications that are commonly prescribed in the US, for example.
You can bring these restricted medications into Austria, but only enough for up to five days. If you need to bring more, then you can get a prescription from your doctor back home for up to thirty days’ worth of medication, and this will be valid in Austria. You will still need to bring a certified translated letter from your doctor explaining who you are and why you need the medication. Asking your doctor to fill in an Anhang X form will make this process easier.
to your new doctor if you require a restricted medication
A doctor in Austria can prescribe continued doses of your necessary medication, even after the thirty-day limit. However, they will probably request to see a copy of the letter from your doctor back home explaining why you require the medication, and they might ultimately try to move you onto a similar but unrestricted medication in Austria.
As well as prescription medication, there are restrictions on certain herbal, homeopathic and vitamin-based treatments in Austria. If you regularly take herbal or homeopathic medicine, or if you take a lot of vitamins or other supplements, make sure you check with the Austrian Federal Ministry to see whether the medications you take will be allowed into the country with you.
If you are used to taking a restricted medication but you are moving to Austria permanently, then your doctor will probably talk to you about trying to switch to an unrestricted substance that treats the same problems.
Some medications that you might have been able to buy over the counter in your home country, such as strong painkillers and antibiotics, will not be available without a prescription in Austria. If you are used to having a fully stocked medicine cabinet, you might need to find less strong over-the-counter medicines for this purpose.
There are reports of complaints about doctors being reluctant to give out antibiotics in Austria. Antibiotic resistance is a global problem, and around most of Europe doctors are trying not to prescribe antibiotics unless they are absolutely necessary. However, some people say that they have not been given them even when they were necessary, leading to medical complications.
Medical marijuana is legal in Austria, but cannot be bought from official distributors. Doctors do not prescribe it and there is no centrally regulated marijuana distribution in the country. Marijuana for personal use was decriminalised in 2008, and this includes using it for medical purposes. It is also legal to buy related medications such as Dronabinol and Sativex. CBD based products are prohibited in Austria, except for children with severe epilepsy, who can be prescribed CBD by their doctor and will be able to pick it up at the pharmacy. Adults with epilepsy cannot be prescribed CBD.
Pharmacies in Austria are open during business hours in the working week (9am-5pm Monday-Friday), with some opening on Saturday mornings as well. If you live in a city, you should be able to find a 24-hour pharmacy if you need medication urgently, but those living in rural areas probably will not have access to this service.
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