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I’m sure, anyone who has read my musings, that I am not overly impressed with how pharmaceuticals are dispensed in the UK. Today was no exception, as I had to get a script for Naproxen – which for the average Canadian is known as Aleve – which is available OTC throughout most of Canada.

Some delights:

Pepto Bismol – fully accessible on the shelves in most pharmacies, supermarkets and corner shops in Canada. In the UK, you need to request it from the pharmacy staff – don’t need a prescription, but it is behind the desk and they usually need a chat with you before they sell it to you.

Robaxacet – not available at all in the UK

Melatonin – can get 5mg tablets in most healthfood shops in Canada. In the UK you need to order online because none of the shops carry it.

OTC pain meds – ibuprofen, aspirin, acetominophen (known as paracetamol in the UK) you can get as little as 8 tablets to bottles of 100-200 at a time, readily available off the shelf in most shops in Canada. In the UK, packets of 8-16 usually though can request packets of 32 or 48, can only get 2 packets at a time .. so idiots don’t overdose themselves (except they can just wander over to another shop and get the exact same meds)

Oxycontin – In Ontario they are a controlled substance in that when your doctor writes out a script that script gets registered with the Ministry of Health and you need to show ID to the pharmacist, which then gets logged .. stops people from doctor-hopping and getting multiple scripts for the same drug. In the UK – they look at you as if you’re requested heroin. In the hospital if you are in incredible pain they first offer you bog-standard tylenol – 325mg.

Allegra (antihistimine) – available OTC in Canada. In the UK need a prescription – known as fexofenadene. Most antihistimines available on the shelves in the UK are pretty weak.

Flonase – nasal spray, prescription in Canada, great for dealing with the trials of post-nasal drip. Doesn’t exist in the UK.

That’s just a list of medical shits and how you can access them – Canada vs UK. There’s more joy in that there are a number of grocery products which I wish to high heaven existed here in the UK:

  1. Kraft Dinner (mac & cheese) – available as an import for the glorious price of £4.59 for a small box – usually about $1 in Canada. Can order online through Amazon UK, but a multipack (3 boxes) is over £12
  2. Skinny Cow – ice cream bars & cones, low fat, I liked the chocolate mint I could get at my local Loblaws in Toronto. Can’t get it or any reasonable facsimile of it. Weight Watchers does do frozen desserts, but those are like gold dust in Hampshire trying to find them in Tesco/ASDA/Sainsbury’s
  3. Crystal Lite – powdered drink crystals – low calorie, very prevalent in North America. There is squash here in the UK, which doesn’t exist in Canada. So there is some trade-off there.
  4. Big bags of Pierogies. No Frills & Loblaws and even Metro would carry big 2kg bags of them. Can get them here, but Sainsbury’s has them in tiny 125g pots for reheating for office lunches or you need to go to an Eastern European deli for them.
  5. I have yet to find any havarti cheese since coming to the UK.
  6. Oh Henry, Sweet Marie, Glossettes, Cadbury Thins (I know it’s a British company, but these seem pretty unique to Canada .. 100 calories of cadbury chocolately goodness)
  7. Wendy’s & Tim Horton’s (I know there’s a mythical Timmies somewhere in London .. but out here in the stix nadah)
  8. scent-free feminine hygiene products – I know they exist in the UK, I’ve seen them, but they are rare like the mythical dodo, there are sightings then whoosh! gone. A lot of things are scented here in the UK.
  9. Swiss Chalet sauce
  10. proper bagels .. the shit you can find here in the UK supermarkets is just that, shit. I have yet to find a good poppyseed bagel.


Don’t get me wrong, there are certain delights which are unique to the UK which I quite like – but it’s the nanny state thing which drives me nuts the most.