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 2017, medical practitioners issued about 47 million green prescriptions.

The top 5 indications on Green Prescriptions are: coughs and colds, head colds and other nasal diseases, immune stimulants, analgetics, and diarrhea medicines and electrolyte replacements.

In a representative survey of the German Health Monitor of BAH in 2014, more than half of the respondents indicated that they knew about the green prescription, and almost half of them had already received one. Nine out of ten respondents had the prescription filled in a pharmacy on site.

Sources: BAH; IMS Health

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