To switch or not to switch – German physicians´ views on proposed new OTC medicines


Andrea Stippler1,2, Niels Eckstein1, Elmar Kroth2


1. University of Applied Sciences Kaiserslautern, site Pirmasens, Carl-Schurz-Straße 10-16, 66953 Pirmasens. 2. German Medicines Manufacturers´ Association e. V., Ubierstraße 71-73, 53173 Bonn



The consent of physicians is an important factor for the successful acceptance of switches. This consent is not part of the official over-the-counter-switch (OTC-switch) procedure in Germany. Physicians’ views on potential switches have never been sought in Germany before.


The aim was to identify potential switch candidates and indications that would be supported by physicians in Germany.


Physicians in Germany were invited to complete a survey distributed via the online survey tool of the physician’s journal “Ärztezeitung” asking their opinions on the OTC-switching of further therapeutic groups and active substances.

The survey was comprised of 8 questions. Besides some basic parameters the questionnaire included a list of proposals for new switch candidates, a vote on the general acceptance as well as economic and health professional expectations regarding further switches.


In the survey 540 physicians participated within the period from 22 December 2017 to end of January 2018; 43% of responses came from general practitioners. 51% of respondents supported more OTC-switches and agreed that community pharmacies can provide the necessary advice. Just over half of participants (51%) agreed pharmacy-based self-medication was advantageous for patient care. The highest support was for modern non-sedating antihistamines (64%) and nasal glucocorticoids (46%) for treatment of hay fever, proton pump inhibitors (57%) for reflux disorders, as well as triptans (84%) for migraine treatment. conclusion: Doctors in Germany who responded to the survey are supportive of further switches. Especially for active substances within indications which have already one substance available as OTC. Furthermore, in the opinion of many physicians surveyed, more OTC medicines are an advantage for patient care.

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