Background Austria has high health resource use compared to similar countries. Reclassifying (switching) medicines from prescription to non-prescription can reduce pressure on health resources and aid timely access to medicines. Since Austria is less progressive in this area than many other countries, this research aimed to elucidate enablers and barriers to it reclassifying medicines and make recommendations for change in the context of similar research conducted elsewhere. Methods Qualitative research using a heuristic approach was conducted in Austria in 2018. Informed by their own "insider" and "outsider" knowledge, the authors identified themes from personal interviews with 24 participants, including reclassification committee members, government officials and stakeholders, before comparing these themes with earlier research findings. Results Significant barriers to reclassification included committee conservatism, minimal political support, medical negativity and few company applications. Insufficient transparency about committee decisions, expectations of adverse committee decisions and a limited market discouraged company applications. Austria's 'social partnership' arrangement and consensus decision making aided a conservative approach, but the regulator and an alternative non-committee switch process were enabling. Pharmacy showed mixed interest in reclassification. Suggested improvements include increasing transparency, committee composition changes, encouraging a more evidence-based approach by the committee, more pharmacy undergraduate clinical training, and companies using scientific advisory meetings and submitting high quality applications. Conclusion Removing barriers to reclassification would facilitate non-prescription availability of medicines and encourage self-care, and could reduce pressure on healthcare resources.