Buying Over-the-Counter Remedies Abroad

A guide to popular medications available abroad without a prescription.

Should you need to visit a pharmacy while traveling, remember that many health remedies that aren’t readily available or require a prescription here in the United States can be purchased over the counter. Here’s a sampling from several popular destinations—just be careful what you bring back through customs.

Great Britain

Ibuleve gel The same active ingredient (ibuprofen) that’s in Advil or Motrin, but you can rub it right on the sore spot.

Nelsons Travella Homeopathic, nondrowsy remedy for motion sickness.

Nurofen Plus Combining ibuprofen and codeine, it’s among the most potent pain relievers available OTC.


Biafine Topical cream for treating scrapes, sores, burns.

Donormyl effervescent tablets Antihistamine for cold and allergy relief; also used as a sleep aid.

Homéoplasmine Antiseptic ointment for scrapes, chapped skin, and nasal irritations due to a cold or allergies; can also be used as a lip balm.


Bepanthen Ointment with vitamin B5 for diaper rash and other skin irritations.

Bromelain This enzyme, found in pineapples, is popular here as a remedy for nasal and sinus inflammation from infection, injury, or allergies.

Wick MediNait German Vicks NyQuil with a decongestant and more alcohol.


Celestoderm-V with Garamycin Topical cortisone cream (with an antibiotic) for cuts, scrapes, and insect bites.

Hexalen Antiseptic mouthwash that helps relieve a sore throat.

Imigran Taken at the first sign of a migraine to relieve nausea, headache, and sensitivity to light.


Gentalyn Beta Antibiotic cream with cortisone for eczema, acne, and ingrown hairs.

Promethazine Sedative that relieves allergy symptoms and also motion sickness.

Voltadvance Anti-inflammatory for arthritis pain, migraines, or cramps; similar to the prescription-only Voltaren sold in the United States.

South Africa

Biral Herbal sedative that contains valerian root and passionflower extracts.

Stilpane syrup Codeine-laced pain reliever, cough suppressant, fever reducer, and sleep aid (requires a prescription, but some pharmacists will sell it OTC).

Dolorol Forte Essentially Tylenol (acetaminophen) with codeine.