Simplified self-medication – changes in the way medicinal products are dispensed

10.04.2017 - Self-medication is to be simplified by making better use of the specialist skills of the drugstores and pharmacies that dispense medicinal products. This decision has been taken as part of the revision of the Therapeutic Products Act. On 6 April 2017 Swissmedic briefed representatives of the affected professional associations and the designated external experts on the project roadmap and the roles that have been earmarked for them in the project.

Dispensing category C (in-pharmacy sale only) will be abolished. This means that once recategorisation is complete, drugstores will be able to dispense all medicinal products that do not require a prescription. In the light of the government’s desire to encourage self-medication, investigations are also underway to ascertain which medicinal products in dispensing category D could be dispensed without expert advice. The plan is to reassign these products to dispensing category E (sale in all shops). Furthermore, a new provision has been added to the Therapeutic Products Act that gives Swissmedic the power to determine which medicinal products therapists who hold a federal diploma may dispense in the course of their professional activities.

The legal requirements stipulate that all medicinal products that are currently in dispensing category C and certain category D products have to be evaluated and recategorised. Products will be evaluated according to defined scientific criteria and in consultation with external experts who will also represent all dispensing outlets. The aim is to fulfil the political mandate – i.e. to encourage self-medication without jeopardising patient safety. The focus is on the issue of medicine abuse and the possible interactions between non-prescription-only and prescription-only medicinal products.