Requires a prescription, pharmacy and is available over the counter

Disclaimer :

If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider. The articles on are based on peer-reviewed research and information from medical societies and governmental agencies. However, they should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

What types of medicines are there

Medicines are not just medicines. While purchasing some products is no different than purchasing your favorite chocolate, purchasing other medications is unthinkable without first consulting a doctor or medical diagnosis.

A distinction is made between prescription-only , pharmacy -only and over-the-counter medicines. While over-the-counter medicines can be purchased in pharmacies as well as in drugstores and health food stores, you can only buy prescription and pharmacy-only medicines in pharmacies and mail-order pharmacies. The prerequisite for the purchase of a prescription drug is a prescription , i.e. the “prescription” or “prescription” from a doctor for the corresponding drug.

Which drug is classified as over-the-counter, over-the-counter, or prescription-only varies from country to country . This means that a prescription drug in the UK may be freely available in other countries.

In the UK, an expert committee of the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices – consisting of doctors, pharmacists, scientists and naturopaths – is responsible for classifying drugs into one of the three categories (over-the-counter, pharmacy-only, prescription-only). The allocation decision is then made by the Federal Ministry of Health .

Prescription Drugs

Prescription drugs are only offered in pharmacies and mail-order pharmacies. The prerequisite for the purchase of a prescription drug is a prescription, i.e. the “prescription” or “prescription” from a doctor for the corresponding drug.

What are prescription (prescription) drugs?

Prescription or prescription drugs can only be purchased with a prescription . The basis for a drug prescription is a doctor’s diagnosis. This can be provided by a doctor in person or – thanks to telemedicine – online .

Depending on the diagnosis, the attending physician prescribes the drug and gives the patient a prescription for the appropriate drug. This prescription can then be redeemed in a pharmacy or mail-order pharmacy. Prescription medicines are always sold in pharmacies .

❗A recipe can only be redeemed once.

When is a prescription drug required?

A drug is classified as prescription only if the drug requires “physician supervision” ¹. This is the case when the medicinal product…

  • can endanger the health or even the life of the patient if used incorrectly or in excessive doses
  • is often misused to a considerable extent and this misuse directly or indirectly endangers health (e.g. BOpiate)
  • contains active ingredients that are new to the market and whose effects are not yet generally known in medical science

contains very large amounts of an active ingredient in one dose (e.g. paracetamol: 500 mg tablets require a pharmacy, 1000 mg tablets require a prescription)

Which drugs are prescription drugs?

As already mentioned, all drugs that require “medical supervision” require a prescription. Well-known prescription drugs include:

  • antibiotics
  • Antidiabetics
  • cancer therapeutics
  • Narcotics (e.g. strong painkillers, cannabis-based medicines)
  • Sexual enhancers (e.g. Viagra)

Sexual enhancers such as Viagra ( Sildenafil ), Cialis ( Tadalafil ) or Priligy (Dapoxetine) require a prescription – and for good reason. If special underlying diseases such as cardiovascular diseases or hypotension (low blood pressure) are behind the erectile dysfunction, taking PDE-5 inhibitors, i.e. Viagra, Cialis and Co., is strongly discouraged. Potency drugs can be harmful to health in the case of special underlying diseases or, in extreme cases , can be life-threatening . A doctor’s diagnosis and a prescription are therefore a prerequisite for buying sexual enhancers and being able to take them safely.

How do I recognize prescription drugs?

In the UK, prescription drugs (“Rx preparations”) are labeled as such on the packaging . In the pharmacy, they are located in a shielded area to which customers have no access – i.e. in the drawers or in the pharmacy warehouse. Pharmacists are not allowed to dispense prescription drugs without a prescription. There is an exception if the pharmacist has reinsured himself with the doctor treating the customer – eg by telephone³.

Can you buy prescription drugs online?

You can and may order prescription drugs online from licensed mail-order pharmacies. A prerequisite is of course – just like in the pharmacy around the corner – a valid prescription. This can be sent to the mail-order pharmacy in paper form by post or issued electronically by an online doctor and passed on to the mail-order pharmacy. As soon as the pharmacy has received the prescription, the order will be processed and you will receive the medicine in the mail within a few days.

How to get a prescription online

You don’t necessarily need to see a doctor to get a prescription for a prescription drug. Online providers such as enable online diagnosis and prescriptions to be issued remotely by a doctor – completely anonymously. All you have to do is fill out an online questionnaire, which is checked by a doctor. Depending on the diagnosis and result, the doctor then issues a private prescription, which is then sent to a mail -order pharmacy .

Such a discreet online treatment and prescription costs only 19 € .

You should pay attention to this when buying prescription drugs online

Seriousness is the be-all and end-all when buying medicines online. But how do you recognize reputable suppliers?

Prescription requirement: Reputable and licensed mail-order pharmacies naturally adhere to the prescription requirement. This means that when purchasing a prescription drug, the provider either requires a valid prescription from the doctor or offers an online diagnosis.

Information : Reputable providers are transparent. An imprint with information about the operator and the mail-order pharmacy is a must.

Customer service : The possibility of direct customer contact – for example via chat or telephone – says a lot about the seriousness of the provider. If there is no possibility of direct contact, you should keep your hands off the provider! Especially since you can clarify important questions about the delivery and the effect and intake of the drug in customer service.

Payment options: Ideally, there are several payment options to choose from. In particular, the option of purchasing on account creates security and trust.

That’s why you shouldn’t buy prescription drugs without a prescription

If you buy a prescription drug without a prescription, both you and the retailer are committing criminal offenses . But this offense is usually not even the biggest problem: illegally acquired medicines are often inferior counterfeits, for which neither effectiveness nor quality and safety are guaranteed. In the best case, these preparations have no effect at all – however, they can also be contaminated and contain unauthorized active ingredients that are harmful to health or (in the worst case) life-threatening.

In addition, a large proportion of such illegal medicines are confiscated at customs, so that many customers never receive their goods from dubious suppliers. Blessing in disguise?

Drugs available in pharmacies

Unlike prescription drugs, drugs that require a pharmacy can be purchased without a prescription, but only in pharmacies and mail-order pharmacies. This is also referred to as OTC medicines or “over the counter”.

What are prescription drugs?

Pharmacy-only medicines are medicines with a known and justifiable extent of possible side effects, which may be sold without a prescription – but only in pharmacies and mail -order pharmacies .

What is the difference between prescription and pharmacy drugs?

Just like prescription drugs, you can only buy pharmacy-only drugs in pharmacies and mail-order pharmacies. The difference, however, is that you do not need a prescription from a doctor to buy pharmacy -only medicines. So you can buy the medication spontaneously and without a medical prescription.

When is a drug only available in pharmacies?

A prescription for a drug is no longer required and is only available from a pharmacy if it can be taken without medical supervision and advice from the pharmacy about the effects and side effects of the drug is sufficient⁴. Drugs sold in pharmacies have a proven pharmaceutical effect, but according to the Ministry of Health they may only have an “acceptable or known” level of side effects .

Which medicines are pharmacy-only medicines?

Certain active ingredients are always only available in pharmacies. This applies, for example, to those that affect blood clotting or the central nervous system. Medicines that are taken for diseases that should not be cured on their own are also subject to the pharmacy requirement. Such diseases include, for example, stomach ulcers or worm infestation. Pharmacy-only medicines also include light painkillers or cold medicines such as:

  • aspirin
  • ibuprofen
  • paracetamol
  • Voltaren
  • dobendan

How do I recognize prescription drugs?

In pharmacies, you can immediately see which medicines are only available in pharmacies: they are usually visible to everyone and may also be advertised, but are not in direct customer access, i.e. behind the sales counter.

Can you buy prescription drugs online?

Pharmacy-only medicines can be bought not only in stationary pharmacies, but also online in mail-order pharmacies.

❗ Comparing prices is worth it! This is because the price of pharmaceuticals sold in pharmacies varies greatly depending on the manufacturer and the pharmacy. Since the pharmacies can usually determine the selling price themselves, the preparations in online pharmacies are usually somewhat cheaper.

You should pay attention to this when buying pharmacy-only medicines online

Just as with the purchase of prescription drugs, you must also pay attention to the seriousness of the mail-order pharmacy when purchasing pharmacy-only drugs . So:

✔ Is the mail-order pharmacy transparent and informative? Does the mail-order pharmacy have an imprint?

✔ Is there a customer service (hotline, chat)?

✔ Are trustworthy payment methods offered (e.g. payment on account)?

☎. In-patient pharmacists criticize that when buying medicines online, advice and information are neglected. It is therefore important that you use the customer service of mail-order pharmacies if you have any questions or are uncertain and that you read the package leaflet !

Over-the-counter medicines

Drugs are freely available if they can not only be purchased in pharmacies, but are also offered in drugstores, health food stores or online shops . They have only a weak effect compared to prescription and pharmacy drugs and are not suitable for curing serious diseases.

What are over-the-counter medicines?

Over-the-counter medicines are medicines that can also be bought in retail outlets outside of pharmacies. You can find over-the-counter medicines, for example, in drugstores such as DM or Rossmann, in health food stores and in numerous online shops. They are not suitable for curing serious illnesses, but for prevention , strengthening health and self-treatment of minor health problems.

When is a drug over-the-counter?

The pharmacy requirement for a medicinal product does not apply if the product is not suitable for healing or eliminating serious illnesses, ailments, bodily injuries or medical conditions ⁵ or if the product is exclusively intended for other purposes. Products can also be sold over-the-counter if they are explicitly mentioned in the Medicines Act or in the ordinance on over-the-counter medicines (e.g. bathing muds, disinfectants).

Which medicines are over-the-counter medicines?

Examples of over-the-counter medicines include:

  • Dietary supplements, such as biotin against hair loss
  • Vitamin preparations like our TESTOPLUS KUR for a better love life
  • Shampoos, like our Baicapil™ Anti-Hair Loss Shampoo
  • Special teas
  • condoms
  • some gels and ointments
  • some nasal sprays and eye drops
  • some cough syrups and throat lozenges
  • insect repellent
  • Means for mild symptoms, such as cold sores

How do I recognize over-the-counter medicines?

Unlike prescription and pharmacy drugs, over-the-counter products are directly accessible to the customer . This means that the customer can serve themselves and buy any amount.

Can you buy over the counter medicines online?

Over-the-counter medicines can be bought not only in mail-order pharmacies, but also in numerous online shops. Here, too, it is worth comparing prices , since the over-the-counter medicines are manufactured by many companies and offered at different prices!

You should pay attention to this when buying over-the-counter medicines online

The risks and interactions of over-the-counter drugs are often underestimated . When used incorrectly, these preparations can lead to poisoning, organ damage, dependencies and interactions with other medicines.

It is therefore important that YOU, whether you buy the preparation online or in a drugstore, deal intensively with taking it and weigh up possible damage, side effects and interactions. In addition, you should also make sure that the online shop or mail-order pharmacy looks trustworthy and reputable when it comes to over-the-counter medicines – so that you really get the medicine you ordered.

The explanations and lists of possible treatment options are purely informative and do not replace consultation with your doctor or the explanations about the intake, mode of action and side effects from the product-specific leaflet.

Isabel D White

Isabel D White

Isabel led the Royal Marsden Hospital (London) psychosexual therapy service until 2019. She works in partnership with individuals & couples to explore physical, emotional & relationship factors that contribute to sexual difficulties after cancer. These include: low desire, erection, arousal or orgasmic difficulties, sexual pain & sexual avoidance. She adopts an integrative approach to personalized therapy using psychosexual therapy (sensate focus framework), biomedical management (erectile dysfunction medication & devices, menopause & vaginal health strategies, sexual aids) & psychoeducation.

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