Purchase of medicinal producs in Sweden

Over-the-counter and prescription medicinal products

Medicinal products can be purchased in two different ways, over-the-counter or by prescription. You can purchase over-the-counter medicinal products in any pharmacy countrywide. You can also buy certain over-the-counter medicinal products in other places, for example in supermarkets and at petrol stations. If you need medicinal products that require a prescription in Sweden, you must either have a current paper prescription for cross-border use from your home country or get a new Swedish prescription before you can buy the medicinal product at a pharmacy.

Whether a medicinal product requires a prescription or not may differ between countries. For example, in some countries antibiotics can be purchased without a prescription, but this is not possible in Sweden.

Where can I purchase medicinal products?

You can purchase medicinal products in any of the over 1 400 pharmacies in Sweden. Most belong to larger pharmacy chains, but there are also some independent pharmacies. Some smaller towns do not have pharmacies. In these places, there is usually a pharmacy agent which mediates orders and delivery of medicinal products, this can be a supermarket or a petrol station, for example. You can also usually buy over-the-counter medicinal products there.

To find out where your nearest pharmacy is, you can visit the Swedish Pharmacy Association website.

The pharmacy map at the Swedish Pharmacy Association

Buying medicinal products online

Many pharmacies also sell medicinal products online, both over-the-counter and prescription. To purchase a prescribed medicinal product online, you must have a Swedish personal identity number and e-identification. Over-the-counter medicinal products can be purchased without a Swedish personal identity number and e-identification.

All pharmacies that sell medicinal products via the internet must use a common EU symbol on their website. The purpose of the symbol is to make it easy for you as a consumer to determine whether the business is legal. The EU symbol links to the business’s name in the Swedish Medical Products Agency’s list of registered pharmacies. If you click on the link for the pharmacy in question, you will be directed to the website you wish to shop from.

EU symbol for legal medicinal products dispensers online.
EU symbol for legal medicinal products dispensers online.

What do I pay for medicinal products in Sweden?

As an EU citizen, you may be entitled to a subsidy for your prescribed medicinal product, known as the ‘high-cost threshold system’. However, this only applies if you have a Swedish prescription. To receive the subsidy, you must take your European Health Insurance Card with you when you have an appointment with the healthcare services or go to a pharmacy. Health workers or pharmacy staff assess individual coverage by the high-cost threshold system. If you are covered, you will pay a maximum of SEK 2 350 every year for the medicinal products for which you have valid prescriptions for. However, certain medicinal products are not covered in the high-cost threshold system.

For those with Swedish personal identity numbers, information on the high-cost threshold system is updated automatically. If you do not have a Swedish personal identity number, you must keep track of your purchases and the high-cost threshold level yourself. You do this by asking the pharmacist to print out a special receipt, which is called a high-cost threshold certificate, when you purchase any prescribed and covered medicinal product. Next time you purchase a prescribed medicinal product in Sweden, you will need to show your high-cost threshold certificate in order to receive the correct subsidy. You get a new high-cost threshold certificate every time you purchase a prescribed and covered medicinal product.

If you purchase in Sweden, prescribed medicinal products on a prescription from another EU Member State, you will be required to pay the full price at the pharmacy, but remember to save the receipt. In certain cases, you can request reimbursement retrospectively from your home country’s health insurance system.

The prescribed medicinal product may be substituted

Pharmacy staff will sometimes substitute your medicinal product with an equivalent medicinal product with a lower price, so that neither you nor society has to pay more than necessary for medicinal products. This means that the name of the medicinal product that you receive may differ from the name of the medicinal product that is on your prescription. However, the active ingredients will be the same, even if the name and appearance or packaging of the medicinal product are different. The pharmacy substitutes the equivalent medicinal product that has the lowest price, is available and is included in the high-cost threshold system.

The prescribed medicinal products that can be substituted are determined by the Swedish Medical Products Agency, which is the Swedish control authority for medicinal products.   

Purchasing medicinal products for someone else

You can purchase medicinal products on someone else’s behalf or allow someone else to collect medicinal products on your behalf. The person who goes to the pharmacy must bear with them both their own ID and the ID for the person on whose behalf the purchase is to be made.  If you need to collect an electronic prescription for someone else, you may need to show some form of authorisation to prove that you have been entrusted with the authority to purchase medicinal products on that person’s behalf. 


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