Tenerife Chemists - Farmacias

Pharmacies and Prescriptions

Chemists in Spain and the Canary Islands are known as “Farmacias,” which is easy to remember because it is like the English word pharmacies. They are all privately owned by qualified pharmacists, who are only permitted to own and run one such shop.

It is a very different system in Tenerife to the one in the UK where there are chain stores. The number of Spanish pharmacies in a given area is to meet the needs of the population there and is strictly governed by the laws of the island.

Pharmacies in Tenerife provide advice and recommendations about minor illnesses and problems besides dispensing medicines. Many people often prefer to ask the pharmacist rather than bother getting an appointment with their doctor if it is not a serious complaint.

A doctor’s prescription is called a “receta” in Spanish and as long as you have been paying in your social security to cover for healthcare then you will only pay around 40% for prescribed medicines.

However, in some cases prescriptions are free and medicines in Tenerife are usually cheaper than in the UK. Pensioners are allowed free medicines, and also charges for regular prescriptions for a chronic disease such as diabetes are waived. Alternative treatments such as homeopathy and herbal supplements all have to be paid for in full.

Hospital prescriptions in Tenerife are another matter again. They are not the same as a doctor’s prescription but are a document of authority allowing you to buy the medication you need as a treatment for your complaint. You will be able to get the charges paid back to you by the pharmacy.

The procedure is that you have to take the hospital’s note to your GP who will issue a prescription that you then take to the pharmacy where you bought your medicine. You must also take the receipt and the label of the box or bottle the medicine was in as proof of purchase. The pharmacist will then refund the money you paid.

Another difference you will notice is that the drugs you are prescribed will usually be generic versions and not the big brand names. The medicines are the same but in a cheaper make.

Something else that is different is that in Tenerife it is often possible to buy medicines over the counter, which you would have to have a doctor’s prescription for if you were in the UK.

You should always be able to find a pharmacy that is open in your area at any time. Although the chemists have set opening and closing hours the system is set up so that one will always be open in case of emergencies.

This may mean that pharmacies in an area will take it in turns on a duty roster. All chemists in Tenerife are required to have a notice posted in the window that tells you their opening hours and will inform you of the nearest one that is open if the one you have gone to is closed.