Purchasing prescription medicines

General information

In Austria, a prescription (public health service or private prescription) generally loses its validity twelve months after its date of issue, unless the prescribing doctor has noted a shorter period of validity on the prescription. However, the first dispensing of the medicine must take place within one month of the date of issue indicated on the prescription.

In cases of special urgency, the pharmacist is authorised to dispense medicines even without a prescription, but only in the smallest commercially available package.

Purchasing prescription medicines on the internet

Austria has prohibited the sale of prescription medicines via the internet. Austrian pharmacies must not ship prescription medicines within Austria or abroad. This applies even if the purchase of prescription medicines would be permitted in the other EU/EEA Member State in question.

Redeeming a prescription

Redeeming a domestic (Austrian) prescription in Austria

In order to redeem a domestic prescription, the following information must be indicated thereon:

  • Doctor’s name, address and professional title
  • Date of issue (validity)
  • Name of the medicine
  • Instructions for use
  • Dosage form (e.g. capsules, drops, etc.)
  • Quantity of active ingredient per unit (e.g. tablet, ampoule, etc.)
  • Quantity or package size
  • Patient’s first name, surname and address
  • For prescriptions for a child whose year of birth is
  • Doctor’s signature (possibility of electronic signature)

Public health service prescriptions are prescriptions issued by registered doctors with a public health service contract (contracted doctors) or doctors in group practices with a public health service contract, primary care centres or public outpatient clinics, and are valid for 1 month from the date of issue or authorisation. If the Austrian Insurance Agency for Civil Servants, Railways and Mining is the competent body, the period of validity is 4 weeks. In the case of medicines dispensed in a pharmacy, the patient must pay a prescription fee for each prescribed package of medicine. The prescription fee is a patient contribution that the patient must pay for a medicine. However, a  prescription fee exemption (→ Austrian Health Insurance Fund) German text may be granted under certain conditions.

By contrast, private doctors (doctors who do not have a contract with the patient’s health insurance provider), private group practices and hospital doctors generally prescribe medicines using a private prescription. The full private sale price of the medicine must be paid to redeem a private prescription in a pharmacy. However, the patient may request reimbursement of costs from their health insurance provider.

Tip

It is possible to have a private prescription changed to a public health service prescription by a contracted doctor, at a group practice with a public health service contract or at a primary care centre if certain conditions are met. This does not mean that any existing authorisation requirements cease to apply.

Advice

Even if a private prescription has not been changed, it may still be redeemed in the same way as a public health service prescription if the private doctor has a prescription authorisation or if an agreement has been concluded between the competent health insurance provider and the hospital in question to handle private prescriptions in the same way as public health service prescriptions. Medicines requiring authorisation must be submitted to the competent health insurance provider for approval in advance.

Redeeming an Austrian prescription in another EU/EEA Member State

If a person with health insurance in Austria wishes to redeem a prescription issued in Austria in a different Member State, they must notify the doctor of this when the prescription is issued.

  • The prescription must contain the information required under the Rezeptpflichtgesetz.
  • The prescription must be issued by a doctor or dentist.

Redeeming a prescription from another EU/EEA Member State in Austria

In order to redeem a prescription from another EU/EEA Member State in Austria, the following information must be indicated thereon:

  • Identity of the patient: surname, first name (written out in full) and date of birth
  • Validity of the prescription: date of issue
  • Identity of the prescribing physician: surname and first name (written out in full); professional qualifications; direct contact information; address of the practice (with country indicated); signature (handwritten or electronic)

Advice

The prescription must be issued by a member of a healthcare profession with appropriate authorisation in the country of issue.

  • Identification of the prescribed product, if required: ‘common name’ (international non-proprietary name (INN) recommended by the WHO or name of the active ingredient) or brand name if the prescribed product is a biological medicinal product or the prescribing physician deems this medically necessary due to the fact that brand names differ in EU/EEA Member States; dosage form (tablet, solution, etc.); quantity; strength; dosage schedule

In the case of a prescription from another EU/EEA Member State (foreign prescription), the patient must pay the costs of the prescribed medicine upfront. Reimbursement may then be requested upon their return to the EU/EEA Member State in question, if there is a right to such reimbursement.

Caution

In Austria, pharmacists are entitled to refuse to dispense a medicine or medicinal product if there is doubt as to the authenticity, content or clarity of the prescription.

Further links

Legal basis

Translated by the European Commission
Last update: 20 September 2021

Responsible for the content: Federal Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection