Saturday, January 26, 2008


JoeToday's new challenge: a trip to the drug store. In Sweden, that means Apoteket, a government controlled monopoly which is the only place to buy prescription or over the counter drugs in the country. It's a strange experience, as most of the bewildering panoply of cold treatments and so forth that fill the aisles upon aisles of US drug stores are available, if at all, only by prescription in Sweden, so the self-service portion of the store is remarkably stark. What's more, there seem to be only one or two options available for any given complaint, mostly packaged in these sort of hospital surplus looking packages.
I was there looking for something for Jennifer's cough, but nothing seemed to have any of the ingredients I had been sent for. According to my reading, to get help you're supposed to take a number from the machine by the door, which will issue one number for help with prescription medicines (recept) and another for non-prescription medicines (receptfri). Unfortunately, the machine at the door of this particular Apoteket had a recept button and an empty place where I presume the receptfri button used to be. Hmmm. Unclear how to proceed, and unable to find anyone to help (shops in downtown Uppsala seem to be quite busy on the weekends), I took a recept ticket. This was greeted with only minor annoyance by the pharmacist, who, when I described the problem, pointed out that there should be someone on the other side of the shop to help me with that sort of thing. I agreed (to myself) that there should be someone to help, but the pharmacist had to admit that there wasn't, so she frowned a bit and took me to the shelf (which I'm pretty sure was labeled allergy medicine, not colds) and pointed out all the cough medicine which was there, including something which didn't sound at all like what I had been sent for but which she assured me would do the trick. It was only 30 SEK (about $5), which seems a downright bargain, so I decided to risk it. Indeed, a little online research which Jennifer did upon my return revealed that the active ingredient was in fact just what we were looking for, except that in the US it isn't generally given to humans, but rather administered to particularly snuffly pigs.
All in all, I think we're going to call that one a win. Now if I could just find a cell phone for less than $300, we'd be in business.

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