The Green Prescription

Non-prescription medicinal products (OTC medicines) are an essential element of health care as they are efficient and safe to use. In 2004 it was decided to remove OTC medicines from the catalogue of services of the German statutory reimbursement scheme. Yet, through the then introduced Green Prescription, doctors still have an instrument to prescribe OTC medicines.  Patients can have that prescription filled at a pharmacy.

Support for the patient

For the patient, a recommendation via a green prescription is associated with a signal that the physician considers the use of the medicinal products as medically necessary. 

At the same time, the green prescription serves as a memory aid for the patient. This is because on the green prescription the physician notes all necessary information, including the name of the medicinal product, the pharmaceutical form and the package size. In addition, the green prescription, together with the purchase receipt, can be submitted together with the tax declaration as a voucher of so-called “extraordinary expenses”. 

Some statutory health insurances partially reimburse medicinal products upon green prescription in the framework of so-called optional benefits.  

Figures concerning the green prescription

The success of the green prescription is also proven by the following figures: In 2018, medical practitioners issued nearly 50 million green prescriptions.

The top 5 indications on Green Prescriptions are:

  • Coughs and colds
  • Head colds and other nasal diseases
  • Diarrhea medicines and electrolyte replacements
  • Analgetics
  • Neck painkillers

In a representative survey of the German Health Monitor of BAH in May/June 2018, more than six out of ten respondents (62 per cent) indicated that they knew about the green prescription, and almost half of them (46 per cent) had already received one. Seven out of ten respondents had the prescription filled in an on-site pharmacy. Only 16 per cent obtained the medicine at a mail-order or online pharmacy.

Sources: BAH; IMS Health

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