With or without a prescription?

Some medicines can only be obtained if they are prescribed by a doctor. Other medicines can be bought at the pharmacy, chemist or supermarket. The MEB determines which medicines require a prescription.

When do I need a prescription?

In such cases, the MEB deems a prescription necessary before you can start using the medicine.

You need a prescription in the following cases:

  • You have a symptom that needs to be examined by a doctor. The doctor can determine which medicine works best.
  • The medicine can cause serious adverse events. In these cases, the MEB deems that a doctor should perform extra checks when you are taking the medicine.
  • It is dangerous to use the medicine without supervision. For example, if you are taking other medicines simultaneously. Or if you could become addicted to the medicine. The MEB also deems supervision important if you need to use the medicines for extended periods.
  • The medicine needs to be taken correctly, otherwise it will not work properly. Or because it could result in adverse events if not taken correctly.
  • The medicine is new. In that case, the MEB wants to obtain more information about how the product works and what the adverse events are.
  • You will receive the medicine via an injection.

When is a prescription not necessary?

Has the MEB determined that prescription by a doctor is not necessary? Then you do not need a prescription. Sometimes, it is nevertheless only possible to obtain medicines at the pharmacy. In such cases, the MEB deems that you require additional information before you can start using the medicine. For other medicines, you can obtain advice from the chemist.

Do you use medicines that do not require a prescription? Always ensure that you use these medicines in a safe manner. Have you developed symptoms? Or are your symptoms not going away? Go to the GP for an examination.

The MEB continuously assesses whether a prescription is required

Sometimes, the information about a medicine changes. For example:

  • if adverse events are reported to the MEB that were previously unknown
  • if a lot of adverse events occur
  • if the ingredients in medicine change

The MEB will then assess whether the medicine requires a prescription after all, or whether a prescription is not needed.

Medicines in other countries

In some European countries, you can buy medicines for which you would need a prescription in the Netherlands. This is due to the fact that each country has its own rules. All European countries determine individually whether they think that a prescription is necessary.