Medical prescriptions represent the foundation of the healing process, outlining the type of pharmacological treatmentclinical tests and specialist services necessary for the patient.

These documents, issued by authorized professionalsregulate access to treatment, ensuring clear indication of the therapeutic options available.

Let’s find out how long the different types of medical prescriptions last, from the traditional paper one to the innovative digital prescription.

How many and what types of medical prescriptions are there?

A health prescription, as defined by Legislative Decree 24 April 2006, n. 219, appears to be “any medical prescription issued by a professional authorized to prescribe drugs.”

This document allows you to indicate the type of drug therapy, clinical and/or diagnostic testor specialized medical assistance which the patient must access.

The treatments, both pharmacological and medical, can be offered at the expense of the National Health Service or of the patient, as specified respectively in the Directives of the Italian Medicines Agency and in the Essential Levels of Assistance, the LEAs.

Medical prescriptions they can be issued in various waysthus determining different types of prescriptions; there are 5 of them:

  • white prescription;
  • restrictive prescription;
  • special requirements of the ministry.
  • red (or pink) prescription;
  • electronic prescription;

White recipe

The white prescription is that document drawn up by a doctor, operating in a public or private context, in which they are requested care, medicines, test And checks to be carried out the costs of which are borne by the patient.

The time limit varies depending on the type of medicine indicated:

  • has a validity of 6 months in the case of renewable drug prescriptioni.e. it can be used to purchase the prescribed medicine up to 10 times within 6 months following the date of compilation;
  • in the case of narcotic and psychotropic active substancesthe possibility of renewing the sheet is limited to 3 times within 30 days;
  • for the non-renewable prescription medicinesthe duration is 30 days.

Restrictive recipe

They are indicated with the limiting prescription treatments and medications that can only be provided in specific contextssuch as a hospital or specialist centres.

This category of prescription can be repeatable or non-repeatable:

  • there non-repeatable binding prescription (PVNR) it is valid for 30 days, excluding the date of issue, and can only be used to provide the precise number of packs prescribed by the doctor. Drugs subject to binding medical prescription are those whose prescription or use is limited to certain doctors or settings;
  • there repeatable binding prescription (PVR) it is valid for 6 months, excluding the date of issue, unless otherwise specified by your doctor. Within this period, up to ten packs can be supplied, unless the doctor specifies a quantity greater than one or a limited quantity between 1 and 10. In this case, only the number of packs can be supplied indicated.

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Then they exist types of prescriptions that can only be issued by hospitals or specialistsregarding the recipes of the following three categories of drugs:

  • drugs that can be sold to the public only on prescription from hospitals or specialists. The prescription must report the center or specialist who formulated the diagnosis and can only be used once;
  • drugs that can only be used in hospital environmentswith the note on the packaging “For use limited to hospitals. Sale to the general public prohibited”;
  • drugs that can only be used by specialists in an outpatient setting.

Special ministerial recipes

The special ministerial prescription is issued to indicate medicines used in:

  • pain relief;
  • treatment for terminally ill patients, including narcotics and mind-affecting substances;
  • treatment of drug addiction.

This prescription category has a valid for 30 daysexcluding the day of issue.

Red (or pink) recipe

This recipe, characterized by colored edges, comes used for the prescription of drugs and/or medical treatments covered by the National Health Service (SSN).

Alone certain doctors are allowed to issue these forms:

  • the doctors responsible for public continuous care services;
  • doctors employed by the NHS;
  • the pediatricians chosen in agreement with the NHS;
  • specialists who work in public clinics;
  • family doctors in agreement with the NHS.

Duration validity of the form varies depending on the type of prescription:

  • for exams, analyzes and specialist visits: has a validity of 6 months, after which the healthcare facility is not authorized to accept it. Times may vary from region to region, so it is advisable to check with the competent ASL. However, in the case of a booking already made before the expiry date of the request, this can be used – and therefore remain valid – even if the appointment is given after a maximum of 6 months from the date of issue;
  • for drugs: has a validity of 30 daysbeyond which it is not possible to purchase the product with the cost borne by the NHS;
  • for chronic diseases: For people with chronic disease exemption, it is possible to prescribe up to 3 packs per module (and not 2), covering up to a maximum of 90 days of therapyprovided that the drug has been used by the person for at least 6 months and is specific to their chronic disease.

These forms can be completed by hand or on a computer and have been (partly) made digital as of 2016.

Electronic recipe

The digital recipe is aevolution of the paper prescriptiona digital version associated with a code, the Electronic Prescription Number (NRE), which allows designated facilities to identify the prescription.

Usually, the digital prescription is sprinted on paper by the doctor or the patient himself, but it’s more of a “reminder”. Validity is the same as the red recipe.

As with the counterpart of the paper prescription (except when this is required), the same times apply, i.e 30 days for drugs and 6 months for specialist visits and tests.

When it comes to digital prescriptions, it’s easy to get confused. Many people think that it is electronic only because it is processed on the computer, unlike the handwritten one, but this is not the case: in reality, it is the printed prescription on white paper, in A5 format, issued only by doctors authorized for paper prescriptions.

The digital prescription brought several advantages:

  • partial digitalisation, since a reminder is printed anyway and because, as we will see, it cannot always replace the paper prescription;
  • significant reduction in paper prescriptions on special paper, with related savings;
  • possibility of accessing the prescription even without the paper document, as long as you have the NRE. If you forget your prescription at home or ask someone to pick up a medication, just provide the NRE code to the pharmacist;
  • the digital prescription is valid throughout the country, unlike the red one. In fact, the paper prescription is valid only in your region of residence, outside of which the drug or service is paid by the citizen. Now, the validity extends to the entire national territory, but the cost of the ticket is that of your region of residence.

However, the digital prescription cannot always replace the paper one.

In particular, the paper prescription is required for the following requirements:

  • oxygen;
  • narcotic drugs;
  • psychotropic substances;
  • certain types of visits (such as the first physiatric visit, for example).