Pharmacies in Prague explores the mysterious world of Lékárna

Sarah Castille

Written by Sarah Castille Published on 05.10.2009 15:08:34 (updated on 05.10.2009) Reading time: 6 minutes

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Even though we try to keep our visits to the bare minimum, there comes a time for everyone where they find themselves on a trip to the pharmacy. If you´re looking for treatment to common ailments, there is a range of over the counter medications to choose from in Prague. 

Unlike in the US, where over the counter drugs are readily available in chain drugstores, only a pharmacist can sell you medication in the Czech Republic. Though some pharmacies have drugs on display, you have to wait your turn at the counter to get what you need.

Eye products such as contact lens solutions, reading glasses and eye drops tend to not be stocked by pharmacies but are available at an optician´s. For most glasses, a prescription is required. If you are looking for toiletries and other hygienic products, head to a drugstore – pharmacies don´t stock these here.

In most pharmacies, lines are divided into “bez rezeptu” and “na rezept.” If you have a prescription, the latter one is the one to stand in.

For expats who are used to self-medicating, going through a pharmacist might take some getting used to. In addition, the language barrier often makes it difficult to communicate what you want.


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I sat down with pharmacist Helena Konášová, who works at the Lékárna u Rotundy (Karolíny Světlé 11, Praha 1), a quiet and friendly pharmacy with English-speaking staff, and she helped me compile an extensive list that will help you determine what you need, what brand names are common for certain types of medications in the Czech Republic and which drugs may not be available over the counter here.


A popular drug on the American market, Excedrin contains a combination of aspirin, caffeine and acetaminophen. There is no direct equivalent on the Czech market, but sufferers can combine a drug like Panadol, which contains 500mg of acetaminophen, with an aspirin and a caffeine tablet (both substances have the same name in Czech).

The most commonly used over the counter medication for migraines in the Czech Republic is Migreflux, which contains 500mg of acetaminophen and 12.5mg of dimenhydrate to fight the nausea often associated with migraines. Stronger migraine medications are not available over the counter.


Drugs that contain acetaminophen like Tylenol are sold under the brand names Paralen or Panadol here – the standard pill contains 500mg of the substance, slightly more than the 325mg in the US version.

Aspirin is available under the same brand name and the standard dosage is 500 mg.

If Advil is your weapon of choice against headaches, then asking for ibuprofen, will get you pills with the identical ingredient, available in 200mg and 400mg dosages.


If you need an antihistamine, then Claritin, which contains 10mg of loratidine, is what you should ask for.  In the same family of drugs, Reactine and Zyrtec also provide relief.


A direct equivalent to Midol, which contains 15mg of the antispasmodic Pyrilamine maleate to ease cramps, does not exist as an over the counter medication in the Czech Republic.

Konášová recommends a higher dose of ibuprofen (400mg) along with a heating pad.


A new law that limits the sale of drugs containing pseudoephedrine has been passed in the Czech Republic, so most of the multi-symptom cold medicine that contain the substance (brand names are Modafen or Paraben Plus) are now available only after presenting I.D. For a similar drug that contains acetaminophen, pseudoephedrine, caffeine and vitamin C to help you through the worst, ask for Coldrex, available without ID and in tablet and powder form (the powder has 700mg of acetaminophen, as opposed to 500mg in the tablets)

There is a variety of nose sprays available- brand names include Bibrocil, Olynth and Nasivin.


If you´ve caught the flu, pharmacists recommend you see a doctor. Early stages or lighter cases can be treated with ibuprofen, aspirin or acetaminophen and vitamin C.


There are a wide variety of herbal and menthol lozenges available. For something a little stronger, Konášová recommends the spray Bioparox, the only drug sold on the Czech market that contains antibiotics. 

Orofar is a spray that contains an oral anesthetic. Stopangin, another spray commonly recommended, has disinfectant properties. If you are looking for a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, then ask for Strepfen or Strepsil, sold as lozenges or spray.


To stop a dry, unproductive cough that keeps you up all night, Robitussin or Sinekot are your best choices. If you are suffering from a wet or productive cough, then drugs sold under brand names such as Robitussin Expectorans, Mucosolvan or ACC Akut will all help you loosen the phlegm. 


If you are suffering from diarrhea, the only prescription free option to stop it are Imodium tablets, which contain loperamide, one of the three active ingredients in Pepto Bismol. Note that no direct equivalent to Pepto Bismol exists on the Czech market.

Czechs prefer softer cures than Imodium, so carbon tablets such as Carbosorb are often recommended.


For a softer approach, try a laxative tea, available in plenty of varieties and from a number of brands, for example Teekanne. 

Another option is Fructolaxin, a fruit based tablet that contains dried fruits and helps you cure your constipation with fiber. A stronger laxative is sold under the brand name Gutalax in liquid form.


For a drug that contains ranitidine, the active ingredient in Zantac, ask for Ranisan tablets. Konášová adds that an upset stomach should be treated with this drug for no longer than three days before seeking out a doctor.


Ointments containing antibiotics are not available without prescription. Instead, try Panthenol ointment or spray. Urgo brand bandages are recommended to keep the wound covered. Sunburn can be treated with Fenistil clear gel that cools and moisturizes the skin, comparable to aloe vera.


Mosquito bites can be treated with Fenistil, which relieves the itching. Hydrocortisone cream with 1% hydrocortisone is available, too and is sold under the same name as the substance.  


Comparable to Tums, antacid tablets sold under the brand names Reni, Maalox or Talcid to help you get over the pain quickly. 


Anti-fungal creams that contain clomatrizole (in the US, those are Lotrimin or Mycelex, for example)) are available under the brand name Canesten. The company also makes applicator packs for three or six day treatments. Another option is a combination pack of suppositories and cream with the active ingredient econazole nitrate, drugs with this substance are sold under the brand name Spectazole in the US. 


Since antibiotics are not available over the counter, cranberry juice, herbal teas and lots of water are your only options if you don´t have a prescription. 


Kinedryl helps fight travel sickness by mildly anesthetizing the back end of your tongue where the reflex to vomit stems from. Other options are Travel Gum and Avioplant, a more natural remedy based on ginger extract.


Konášová recommends seeing a doctor as causes of the pain can be multiple and complex and there are no over the counter medications available. 


Most sleep aids are only available with a prescription. Some sedatives can double as a sleep aid, such as Guajacuran, a drug that contains guaifenesin, also found in Robitussin. A softer form of curing sleeplessness is with Valerian root capsules- to ask for them, simply say you are looking for something that contains valeriana.

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