Buying medications abroad

Buying medications abroad

The possibility of using a Finnish electronic prescription to buy medications in other European countries is being introduced step by step. Estonia was the first country where this was possible.

You can buy medications on your electronic prescription also in pharmacies in other European countries that are able to dispense prescription medicines on a foreign electronic prescription. For now prescription medicines can be purchased in Estonia and Croatia. Finnish electronic prescription works in some Estonian pharmacies (xls), whereas every Croatian pharmacy offers the service. The possibility of using a Finnish electronic prescription in other European countries is being introduced step by step.

Before buying the medicine, visit the My Kanta service and give your consent so that your prescription details can be disclosed to pharmacies in other European countries. Take a passport or an ID-card with you to the pharmacy.

Please note that generic substitution of medicines abroad may be made according to other principles than in Finland. If you buy a prescription medicine abroad, the medicine you are given may be a different one than the one you get at a pharmacy in Finland.

Electronic prescriptions cannot be used to buy the following from foreign pharmacies:

  • narcotics and CNS medications
  • medications prepared in the pharmacy
  • over-the-counter products that are not medicines (e.g. base creams or clinical nutritional preparations)
  • medical consumables, dietary supplements and dressings
  • preparations prescribed for a specific period of time (such as when the prescribed amount of medicine is expressed verbally as for example “medication for 12 months’ use”
  • preparations that can be dispensed at specific intervals of for example one month. Such prescriptions have the words ‘iter semel’, ‘iter bis’ or ‘iter ter’ on them.
  • combination packages containing several preparations
  • special license preparations for compassionate use that are patient specific
  • preparations associated with a doctor’s fee that have not yet been dispensed in Finland.

Prescriptions for purchasing medications abroad

The prescriber can write you a prescription titled “Prescription for purchasing abroad”.  Instead of the patient instructions, the prescriber prints out an English-language prescription, which is used similarly to a paper prescription. It cannot be used to purchase medicines in Finland, and you cannot print it out for yourself in My Kanta. 

The following drugs cannot be prescribed for purchasing abroad

  • CNS drugs containing narcotics or requiring an original prescription
  • medications prepared in the pharmacy.

The EU countries must recognise prescriptions issued in other member states. A pharmacy may refuse to dispense a prescription issued in another member state if it has doubts regarding the authenticity or propriety of the prescription. The pharmacy dispenses the medicines in accordance with the legislation of its own country.

You can claim reimbursement from Kela for medicines you have purchased abroad. Keep the receipts, packaging and other documentation. They may be needed to determine your eligibility for reimbursement.

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Last updated 13.12.2019

Child pages for part Buying prescription medicines abroad