What Is the Validity of a Prescription



– Validity of a prescription

– Reduced validity of a prescription for certain drugs

– Validity of a prescription for glasses

– Validity of a prescription for a medical examination

The validity of a prescription issued by a health professional varies according to the drug. Depending on the nature of the medication, the doctor’s notes, whether it is a prescription for glasses or a blood test, a prescription may not be accepted if it is submitted too late.

Validity of a medication prescription

A valid prescription for medication must include:

– The name, contact information, and signature of the prescribing physician,

– Date,

– The name of the patient,

– The list of drugs prescribed and their dosage: dose, number of times per day, and duration of treatment.

Medications covered at 100% by social security, within the framework of long-term illnesses, must be prescribed on a “bi-zone” prescription. The upper part concerns long-term illness care. The lower part involves unrelated drugs, reimbursed in part by the National Health Service and the mutual insurance company (proportion varying according to the drugs).

The original prescription must be presented to the pharmacist, who will indicate the date of issue, the number of drugs dispensed, the total amount of pills dispensed, and the proportion covered by the health insurance. Since the advent of computerization, the pharmacist scans the prescription, and it is no longer necessary to have two copies. In general, it is valid for a maximum of three months after the prescription date. After this date, the pharmacist will no longer dispense the medication. 

In the case of chronic treatment, the doctor may specify the notion “to be renewed” or “quantity sufficient for”. The prescription is then valid for 6 months, 12 months, depending on the doctor’s decision provided that the first dispensing is done within the first three months of the prescription. The medication is then collected from the pharmacy at regular intervals (usually three months).

A pharmacist may dispense medication for a chronic treatment if the prescription has expired under conditions to avoid any health risk. He can also give oral contraceptives if the medicine is less than one year old. But this is at the discretion of the pharmacist and must remain exceptional.

Good to know: In coordination with the attending physician, the corresponding pharmacist is authorized to renew treatments for a long-term illness periodically and to adjust, if necessary, their dosage.

Reduced validity of a prescription for certain drugs

Validity of a Prescription

In some specific cases (narcotics, anxiolytics, sleeping pills), the pharmacist can only accept the prescription if it is presented within 3 days after the date of the prescription. In addition, the doctor must limit the duration of his prescription for public health reasons. This concerns:

– Anxiolytics: 12 weeks,

– Sleeping pills: 4 weeks,

– Narcotics (drug substitution drugs, to avoid withdrawal phenomena, morphine): 7, 14, or 28 days depending on the doctor. These prescriptions must be made on a specific prescription (a double square indicating the number of prescribed substances) and written by hand. 

Validity of a prescription for glasses

Altogether, let’s look at the validity of a prescription for glasses. The validity of a prescription for eyeglasses or corrective lenses varies according to the beneficiary’s age. Unless otherwise specified by the ophthalmologist, it is valid for

– 1 year for children under the age of 16,

– 5 years for adults from 16 to 42 years old (3 years for contact lenses),

– 3 years for adults over 42 years old.

A medical prescription is required for the first delivery of progressive lenses to correct presbyopia to carry out a visual assessment.

Note: The optician can issue new glasses without a prescription in case of loss or breakage of corrective glasses. In general, a copy of the original prescription is required for renewal.

Validity of a Medical Examination Order

No law sets a time limit for prescriptions for nursing care, physiotherapy, X-rays, or blood tests for drugs for nursing care. However, the laboratories have defined that the prescription is valid for one year for a blood test, generally for a single sample, unless the doctor says otherwise.

Moreover, if the delay between the prescription and the treatment is too long, this can lead to the National Health Service’s possible refusal of reimbursement.

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