If you need medication, you can get it from a pharmacy (also known as ‘chemist’). Most New Zealand pharmacies have a general area at the front of the shop and a dispensary at the back. In the front section of the shop it’s normal to find perfumes, hair-care products, cosmetics, skincare products, vitamins and minerals and sports remedies etc. Most pharmacies also have a private consulting room. This can be used for consultation prior to receiving medication such as the emergency contraceptive pill, or for example, to get advice on a rash.
Pharmacies can sell you ‘over the counter’ drugs like everyday painkillers. All medicines that require a prescription must be dealt with by the pharmacist. Your family doctor does not dispense medicines directly. However, they provide the written prescription that you take to your pharmacist.
Some medicines prescribed overseas may not be available in New Zealand. Migrants need to be prepared for this. It can be stressful when you have run out of medication. It is helpful for migrants to register with a doctor in their first few weeks who could prescribe an alternative medicine. It might be necessary to phase out medicines which are not available in New Zealand and phase in new medicines.