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Pharmacy system

Published: 09 April 2013 Modified: 18 July 2013

Most medicines require a prescription from your GP after a personal consultation. You can fill this prescription at your local pharmacy or apotheek.

Hofstad Apotheek in The Hague

The pharmacy registers your insurance details, provides you with usage instructions and informs you about possible side effects. Pharmacies are open during the week and sometimes on Saturdays.

Over-the-counter drugs like non-prescription cough syrup, vitamins, pain relievers and homeopathic medicines can be obtained at a pharmacy but may be cheaper at a drug store (drogist).

Emergency pharmacist

The SMASH (Stichting Mobiele Artsen Service Haaglanden) service for GP treatment outside office hours has its own emergency pharmacist where you can collect the prescribed medication. 

Two emergency after-hours pharmacies (spoedapotheken) in The Hague region have fixed hours of operation. They are meant only for emergency prescription medication and not for refills. Please bear in mind that you may have to pay a surcharge for non-emergency medication. Please go to for the opening hours and locations.

Medications from home

The medicines in the Netherlands are not always the same medicines prescribed in other countries. If you are taking medication prescribed to you in another country, it is best to show these to your doctor and/or pharmacist and they can find you an appropriate alternative.

Always use the same pharmacist

You can choose which pharmacy you want to use. You’ll find telephone numbers and addresses in the telephone book and yellow pages or on the website (Go to Zoek een apotheek). It’s best to always use the same pharmacist, as they’ll know what medicines you’re currently taking and can advise on combinations and interactions.


Your health insurance, or zorgverzekering, should cover the costs of your medicine; however, this depends on the type of medication and/or your coverage. Always show your insurance card with your prescription. If you are insured in your home country or if you are residing here and have foreign insurance due to your work status, the Dutch pharmacist will in most instances ask for cash payment. You can then submit the bill to your insurance company for reimbursement.

Just like a doctor, the pharmacist also is bound by a confidentiality agreement with his customers.

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