An essential feature of a medicinal product is its prescription requirement, i.e. the designation whether it must be prescribed by a doctor or whether it can be purchased in a pharmacy without a doctor's prescription.
The prescription requirements in Austria are determined by the Austrian Federal Office for Safety in Health Care on the basis of scientific knowledge and experience as well as legal regulations at the time of approval of a medicinal product.
Non-prescription: Adults vs. children
Please note that although some medicinal specialities may be available without prescription for adults, they may only be used for children on doctor's orders. The exact information regarding the age limits can be found in the package leaflet.
Prescription and private prescription: minimum requirements must be met
In general, a form ("Kassenrezept") is used for the prescription, rarely also a so-called "Privatrezept" (private prescription), which must contain legally required minimum details (§ 3 of the Prescription Law), such as the name and professional address of the prescriber, name of the person for whom the medicinal product is intended, the name of the prescribed medicinal product, the pharmaceutical form, quantity and strength of the prescribed medicinal product and the date of issue and signature of the prescriber.
Validity of the prescription
In principle, a prescription remains valid for twelve months, provided that the first delivery took place within the first month after issue and no shorter validity period is noted on the prescription. Furthermore, the subscription may be repeated five times (i.e. a total of six times), unless stated otherwise. However, some active substances (e.g. antibiotics or diazepam) are prohibited from being dispensed repeatedly, so that one may only purchase them once.
Prescriptions must be redeemed within one month of issue if the costs of a drug are to be borne by the health insurance institution. A prescription fee per package unit must be paid for by the patient. However, there are exemptions from the prescription fee under certain circumstances. Other than that, a health insurance prescription has to be treated in the same way as a private prescription.
Consumer advertising is prohibited for prescription-only medicines!
According to the provisions of the Medicines Act, no consumer advertising (e.g. television advertising) may be carried out for prescription-only medicinal products. This limitation also extends to product ranges of the same name if one of the products in the range is subject to prescription.