A comprehensive list of Medications not allowed in Europe with Alternatives

A comprehensive list of Medications not allowed in Europe with Alternatives

As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases. Learn more about this.

Planning trips can be fun, they said. Everything will go smoothly, they said. Well, ‘they’ probably never found themselves at a foreign pharmacy being told, ‘Sorry, we don’t carry that medication.’

That’s what happened to me in Europe, and you wouldn’t believe what I’ve found out since then about the medicines that aren’t allowed there.

In this article, I’ll get into details of my take as well as a well-researched take on medicines that are not allowed in Europe, for my fellow travelers at Strangermiles.com.

Tap here to jump to the comprehensive list.

Why would Europe ban certain medications that are easily available elsewhere?

Finding out that Europe bans certain medications that I’ve known to be commonplace was like stumbling upon a hidden chapter in a familiar book. It begged the question: why would Europe, known for its advanced healthcare systems, say a firm ‘no’ to certain pills and potions easily available elsewhere?

The first thing to understand is that Europe takes an incredibly cautious approach to healthcare.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA), the body responsible for the scientific evaluation of medicines in the European Union, is stringent about what gets the green light.

Their decisions hinge on a complex balance of factors, primarily the medication’s effectiveness, risks, and impact on public health.

If a drug doesn’t measure up to their high standards, it’s a no-go. And trust me, these standards are nothing to scoff at; they’re in place to protect millions of people from potential health risks.

For instance, while researching, I discovered that certain painkillers available over-the-counter in other parts of the world are restricted in Europe. Why, you ask?

Well, it’s because of the potential for misuse, addiction, and serious side effects that these painkillers carry. Europe’s healthcare philosophy often leans more toward prevention and holistic well-being, rather than just treating a symptom. It’s not about denying relief but ensuring safety.

Another eye-opener was the environmental impact of medications.

Some substances are banned purely because they pose a risk to the environment.

Europe is stringent about its commitment to sustainability, and this extends to healthcare. Medications that could contaminate water supplies, harm wildlife, or disrupt ecosystems often face strict scrutiny or outright bans.

Moreover, there’s the fact that medicine is a constantly evolving field. New research can lead to old medications falling out of favor. The EMA continuously reviews the latest studies and can decide to withdraw a drug based on new evidence about its risks or ineffectiveness.

Top 5 Medications not allowed in Europe

Before we get into the comprehensive list (which will be covered in the next section) let’s take a look at the top 5 medication types restricted in Europe.

1. Sleeping Pills

Man taking sleeping pills which is prohibited in europe

Starting with a class of medications known as “sleeping pills” or sedatives – in Europe, certain brands are harder to come by than a good cup of coffee in a heatwave.

Medications containing specific active ingredients like melatonin, for instance, face tight restrictions.

While it’s a go-to sleep aid in many countries, in some European nations, it’s either a prescription-only drug or entirely off the market. The concern? Long-term health effects and potential misuse. European health authorities aren’t sleeping on the job; they’re quite awake to the risks these pills pose.

Sleeping Pill IngredientStatus (Fully Banned/Partially Restricted)
1. PentobarbitalFully Banned
2. SecobarbitalFully Banned
3. AmobarbitalFully Banned
4. FlunitrazepamPartially Restricted
5. TriazolamPartially Restricted
6. MethaqualoneFully Banned
7. DiphenhydraminePartially Restricted (in high doses)
8. ZopiclonePartially Restricted
9. ZolpidemPartially Restricted
10. Chloral hydratePartially Restricted
11. EthchlorvynolFully Banned
12. GlutethimideFully Banned
13. MeprobamateFully Banned
14. MethyprylonFully Banned
15. ClomethiazolePartially Restricted
16. Barbiturates (general)Fully Banned (with rare exceptions)
17. Benzodiazepines (certain types)Partially Restricted
18. SuvorexantPartially Restricted
19. EszopiclonePartially Restricted
20. RamelteonPartially Restricted
21. DoxylaminePartially Restricted
22. PhenibutFully Banned
23. PropiomazinePartially Restricted
24. FlurazepamPartially Restricted

Keep in mind that restriction policies vary across different European countries.

2. Decongestants

Next up, we have decongestants, common soldiers in the fight against the pesky common cold. Medications containing pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine, popular in countries like the US, are looked at skeptically in Europe.

These substances can be used to manufacture illegal drugs, so they’re controlled more strictly than a top-secret recipe. You might find alternatives, but don’t expect your usual go-to’s to be on the shelves.

3. Pain Management drugs

Now, let’s talk pain management – a realm where Europe takes no prisoners.

You see, medications containing codeine or other opioids are under severe restriction. In some European countries, you need a prescription for even the lowest doses.

The reason is the high potential for addiction and abuse. Europe’s stern stance on opioids is a bold statement in the global conversation about the opioid crisis.

4. Antidepressants

Antidepressants also have a different story in Europe. Specific types, especially older ones like MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors), have more restrictions than a high-security vault.

Due to significant side effects and the availability of safer alternatives, these antidepressants are rarely used. It’s Europe’s way of saying, “We care about mental health, but safety comes first.”

5. ADHD Medications

Lastly, let’s touch on a sensitive topic: ADHD medications. Drugs like Adderall, widely prescribed in the US, are virtually non-existent in many European countries.

They’re amphetamines, substances Europe relates more to illegal narcotics than therapeutic goods. Alternatives exist, but they’re prescribed with an air of caution thick enough to slice.

The Comprehensive List of Medications Not Allowed In Europe

For a more detailed take and comprehensive look, here’s a table that goes into this…

Medication TypeCommon Active IngredientReason for RestrictionAvailable Alternatives (if any)
Sleeping PillsMelatoninConcerns over long-term health effects and potential misusePrescription alternatives, sleep hygiene recommendations, herbal remedies like valerian root
DecongestantsPseudoephedrine, PhenylephrineUsed in the manufacture of illegal drugs, potential for misuseOther less potent decongestants, saline nasal sprays, steam inhalation
Pain RelieversCodeine, Other opioidsHigh potential for addiction and abuse, public health concernsNSAIDs (like ibuprofen), paracetamol, prescription-only higher potency painkillers
AntidepressantsMAOIs (Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors)Significant side effects, safer alternatives availableSSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors), SNRIs (Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors), counseling, lifestyle changes
ADHD MedicationsAdderall (amphetamine salts)High potential for abuse, classified similarly to illegal narcoticsPrescription alternatives (like methylphenidate), behavioral therapy, lifestyle adjustments
Sleeping PillsMelatoninLong-term health effects, potential misusePrescription alternatives, herbal remedies
DecongestantsPseudoephedrine, PhenylephrinePotential for misuse, used in illegal drug manufacturingSaline nasal sprays, other decongestants
Pain RelieversCodeine, Other opioidsAddiction potential, public health concernsNSAIDs, paracetamol, other prescription options
AntidepressantsMAOIsSerious side effects, interactions, safer alternatives availableSSRIs, SNRIs, therapy, lifestyle changes
ADHD MedicationsAdderall (amphetamine salts)Abuse potential, similar to illegal substancesMethylphenidate, therapy, lifestyle adjustments
Anti-Anxiety PillsBenzodiazepines (e.g., Diazepam, Alprazolam)Dependency, withdrawal, misuseSSRIs, therapy, antihistamines for short-term use
Muscle RelaxantsCarisoprodol, MethocarbamolPotential for abuse, safety concernsPhysical therapy, other prescription relaxants
Acne MedicationsIsotretinoinSevere side effects, especially during pregnancyTopical retinoids, antibiotics, hormonal treatments
AntihistaminesOlder sedating types (e.g., Diphenhydramine)Side effects such as drowsiness, impaired drivingNewer, less-sedating antihistamines
Cough SuppressantsDextromethorphanMisuse, potential for high-dosage recreational useLozenges, honey, prescription options
Weight Loss DrugsSibutramine, PhentermineCardiovascular risks, potential for abuseDiet, exercise, prescription alternatives
Migraine MedicationsErgotaminesSevere side effects, drug interactionsTriptans, NSAIDs, preventive medications
Diabetes MedicationsRosiglitazoneCardiovascular risks, other safety concernsOther antidiabetic medications (e.g., Metformin)
Osteoporosis TreatmentStrontium ranelateRisk of heart attack, other severe side effectsBisphosphonates, hormone replacement therapy
Smoking Cessation AidsVareniclinePsychiatric side effects, other safety concernsNicotine replacement therapy, Bupropion
Herbal SupplementsEphedra (Ma Huang)High blood pressure, heart problems, potential for misuseOther herbal or non-herbal supplements
Antiarrhythmic DrugsDronedaroneSevere side effects including liver and lung injuryOther antiarrhythmic medications
Hormone Replacement TherapyConjugated equine estrogensRisks of cancer, blood clots, heart diseaseOther forms of hormone replacement therapy
ImmunosuppressantsCiclosporin (oral solution for treating dry eyes)Risk of malignancies, infection, kidney issuesOther immunosuppressants, artificial tears
Anabolic SteroidsVarious (e.g., Stanozolol, Nandrolone)Abuse and misuse, severe physical and mental health risksPermitted for limited medical uses with prescription
ThalidomideThalidomideSevere birth defects, historical safety concernsOther medications for leprosy, multiple myeloma; strict controls for use
Quinine (for leg cramps)QuinineRisk of serious side effects including cardiac arrhythmias, especially when used for unapproved indications like leg crampsOther treatments for leg cramps, tonic water in small amounts
Certain BarbituratesVarious (e.g., Secobarbital, Amobarbital)High potential for addiction, overdose risk, availability of safer alternativesOther types of sedatives or anticonvulsants, prescription-required for some uses
Kava Kava SupplementsKava (Piper methysticum)Risk of liver damageOther herbal supplements, with caution
Ephedrine and Pseudoephedrine (as diet aids or stimulants)Ephedrine, PseudoephedrineMisuse as stimulants, high blood pressure, heart problems, potential for illegal drug manufacturingPrescription decongestants, other weight loss aids
SibutramineSibutramineIncreased cardiovascular events, stroke, uncontrolled hypertensionDiet, exercise, other prescription weight loss medications
RimonabantRimonabantPsychiatric side effects, including depression and suicidal thoughtsOther weight management strategies, under medical supervision
Synthetic CannabinoidsVarious (e.g., Spice, K2)Severe physical and mental health risks, potential for abuseNot applicable; illegal for recreational use
Certain Cold MedicationsDextromethorphan (in high doses)Potential for abuse and high-dosage recreational use, health risksStandard doses available OTC, prescription alternatives
Certain Nasal DecongestantsEphedrinePotential for misuse, high blood pressure, heart problems, use in illegal drug manufacturingOther decongestants, prescription options
Some Herbal RemediesAristolochia (birthwort)Carcinogenic properties, kidney toxicityOther herbal or conventional treatments
Injectable Tanning ProductsMelanotanLack of safety information, potential side effectsSunscreen, natural sun exposure with caution
Performance-enhancing DrugsVariousUnfair advantage in sports, health risks, potential for abuseNot applicable; illegal for performance enhancement
Laetrile (B17)AmygdalinIneffectiveness, potential toxicity, illegal for cancer treatmentOther cancer treatments, under medical supervision
Certain Dietary SupplementsDMAA (1,3-dimethylamylamine)Health risks including cardiovascular problemsOther supplements, with caution
Certain Cosmetic InjectablesSilicone injections (for body enhancement)Severe health risks, including toxicity and disfigurementRegulated cosmetic procedures, medical-grade products
Certain Anti-Inflammatory DrugsRofecoxib, ValdecoxibCardiovascular risks, other severe side effectsOther NSAIDs, COX-2 inhibitors, analgesics
Certain Anti-EpilepticsVigabatrinRisk of permanent vision lossOther anticonvulsants
Certain Cancer MedicationsTositumomab, IbritumomabSevere or life-threatening side effects, availability of safer or more effective alternativesOther monoclonal antibodies or cancer therapies
Certain Diabetes MedicationsPioglitazone (in some countries)Risk of bladder cancerOther antidiabetic agents
Certain Anti-Arrhythmia DrugsAmiodarone (for non-life-threatening arrhythmias)Serious side effects including lung and liver damageOther antiarrhythmic medications
Certain VasodilatorsMinoxidil (for oral use)Severe side effects, potent blood pressure medication, misuseTopical minoxidil for hair loss, other antihypertensives
Certain Herbal ExtractsRed yeast rice with high monacolin K levelsPotential for the same side effects as statin medications, lack of standardizationStatins under medical supervision, lifestyle changes
Synthetic OpioidsFentanyl derivatives (for non-medical use), carfentanilExtremely high potency and risk of fatal overdose, potential for abuseRegulated medical use of fentanyl for severe pain, other pain management options
Certain Acne MedicationsHigh-dose isotretinoinRisk of severe birth defects, other serious side effectsLower-dose isotretinoin, other acne treatments
Certain Anti-Anxiety MedicationsPhenibutRisk of dependence, withdrawal, and abuseOther anti-anxiety medications, therapy

Keep in mind that we’re still working to make this list as comprehensive as possible, which is not the case.

If you have any medication in mind that we’ve missed, contact us — we happily appreciate it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like