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Benadryl in Italy

Was running low on Benadryl in Italy so I popped into a few places to ask about buying some. I was told it's not available in Italy by a few pharmacists. I had read that this was true on the Internet a few times over the years, but had never asked myself. It's true apparently. I don't understand why... The pharmacists I talked with offered me Zyrtec instead.

Posted by
6872 posts

Every country regulates its own drugs and some brands either were denied entry or didn't go into certain markets due to existing competitors, expectations for profits, etc. I'm fairly confident you can find a good substitute or a generic with the same chemical properties as the branded drug.

Posted by
2134 posts

I wish I spoke Italian so I could have asked more questions. I use Benadryl as an additional medicine...I already take Zyrtec and I use Benadryl on top of that when I feel I need it. It would have been nice if I'd been able to convey that and se if she had a substitute for that particular circumstance, but I couldn't and I didn't actually need the Benadryl...I was carrying enough to get me through the trip...I was just curious since I'd read it's not available there.

Posted by
6872 posts

Do you have Rick's little phrase book? It covers pharmacy and medical phrases. I've never used them but I know it's in there.

Posted by
2134 posts

Yeah, I had quickie language information but what I wanted to know exceeded the bounds of a cheat sheet. The pharmacist was clear on the concept that Benadryl is not available in Italy - she spoke a bit of English. But I am curious as to WHY it's not available. I've looked around on the Internet a few times but never figured it out.

Posted by
1180 posts

I have done a short google search in Italian; diphenhydramine should be available in Italy under the name "difenidramina" or, in granular form, "aliserin". You need a medical prescription to buy them, and I suspect that they are not very much in use as I never heard about them. A mild antihistamine for running nose and sneezing, to be found everywhere, is Actifed - but frankly I would prefer if medical advices were left to professionals.

Posted by
8889 posts

If you look at The Wikipedia article on Benadryl it says it is a brand name, which contains different things in different countries.
Many medicines have different brands and different names in different countries. The article says:
"In the United States and Canada, it contains the antihistamine diphenhydramine. In the United Kingdom, it contains either the antihistamine acrivastine (marketed as Benadryl Allergy Relief) or the long acting antihistamine cetirizine (marketed as Benadryl One a Day Relief). Benadryl products are marketed in Australia and New Zealand as a cough medicine and do not contain any antihistamine."
So you really need to know which Benadryl you want and its generic (chemical) name. You can then ask for that.

If you are need to buy any medicies in different countries, you need to know the real pharmaceutical "generic" name, and not the brand name.

Posted by
258 posts

Benadryl is the commercial name, not the substance name.
Just like with food, clothes etc, each country has its products and brands, you just have to know what you're looking for: sliced bread, beer, antihistamines... It applies to everything, and it is part of the beauty of traveling, getting to know local brands and products.

Posted by
2134 posts

I guess I should clarify...I used Benadryl in my post because I thought everyone would know what I was talking about. I asked for diphenhydramine and I showed her a picture of a box that showed both the Benadryl name and the scientific name.

Very interesting responses....makes me a little afraid of my trusty old Benadryl!

Posted by
3491 posts

Different countries have different rules covering drugs. Just because it is something easily obtainable without a prescription in one country does not mean it is even available at all in other countries.

I am constantly amazed at what I can get in the UK by just asking a pharmacist. Things that would require a doctor visit and a prescription in the US are available just for the asking. But then I can only buy acetaminophen (paracetamol) in packages of about a dozen pills at a time where I can buy a bottle of 100 here in the US. Does any of this make sense? Not really, but you just have to go with the flow.