Several instruments of consumer protection are applied in Germany. All prescription drugs have the same price in every pharmacy across the country. Over-the-counter (OTC) drugs may only be sold by a licensed pharmacy. In addition, German pharmacists have launched own initiatives of improving consumer protection, such as medication management.
Germany’s Drug Price Regulation defines the price components of all prescription drugs – from the producer via the wholesaler to the pharmacy. The main idea is to dispense a prescription drug at the same price in every pharmacy in Germany. This ensures that people have easy access to pharmacy-services wherever they live, day and night. There is still fierce competition amongst the pharmacies – not for the price but for quality and service.
More than one of all drugs distributed by pharmacies are non-prescription drugs, or over-the-counter (OTC) drugs. For many people, self-medication is a means of avoiding a doctor’s consultation in case of minor illnesses. The price of OTC drugs, which must be paid in full by the customer, can differ from pharmacy to pharmacy. For safety reasons OTC drugs are sold only in pharmacies under the supervision of a pharmacist as a qualified health professional.
In addition to all current requirements regarding the dispensing of drugs, German pharmacists have launched several initiatives for improving consumer protection. One important project is to introduce a comprehensive medication management which would allow community pharmacies to monitor prescriptions and self-medication of their patients. A joint concept by Germany’s pharmacists and doctors was given a legal basis to be implemented as soon as possible.