Gesundh ökon Qual manag 2018; 23(02): 97-102
DOI: 10.1055/s-0043-115561
Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York

Switch – The German process for moving medicines from prescription to non-prescription status

Elmar Kroth
Bundesverband der Arzneimittel-Hersteller e. V.
› Author Affiliations
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
20 July 2017 (eFirst)


Background Germany has a long tradition of switch and has long been considered one of the most liberal countries in terms of the release of modern active substances from prescription, the so-called switch. In the period 2000–2016, a total of more than 30 active ingredients – partly in different dosage strengths, dosage forms or indications – were released from prescription status in Germany. Of these, almost half can be described as “innovative” switches. Recently a significant decline of filed switch proposals can be noted, with only a few being successful.

Methods Reflecting that the German switch procedure is barely mentioned in the literature it is the aim of this article to describe the German approach. The legal framework in the national and European Legislation are assessed as well as the experience of the author and his predecessor over more than 35 years of membership in the German Switch Committee were described.

Results Although the German switch procedure is based on European legislation a successful switch application demands insights in the national particularities. The process is complex and partly intransparent. After a phase of restraint there are positive developments recently particularly the possibility for a scientific advice in pre-submission meetings.