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. 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, Croatia and Portugal. Finnish electronic prescription works in most of the Estonian pharmacies (xls), whereas one Portuguese pharmacy provides the service in the initial stages ( 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. Despite your consent, prescriptions, for which you have recorded a refusal to share data, cannot be dispensed abroad.

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.

Reasons for non-dispensing of prescriptions

An e-prescription can be used for purchasing medicines abroad. Medicines do not include, e.g. base creams, clinical nutritional preparations, care supplies, dietary supplements, and dressings.

In addition, the following medicines cannot be purchased abroad:

  • narcotics
  • CNS drugs that require the original prescription (CNS class PA or ZA)
    • You can check the CNS class of you medicine in Fimea’s pharmaceutical search service 
  • medications prepared in the pharmacy
  • combination packages that contain several different preparations
  • patient-specific special licensed medicines.

The most common reason for not being able to purchase a medicine abroad is the quantity of the medicine prescribed for a certain period. In such a case, the prescribed quantity is displayed in My Kanta Pages as, e.g. “1 year’s supply.” 

Prescriptions that can be re-dispensed at regular intervals cannot be dispensed abroad, either. These prescriptions are marked with "iter semel”, “iter bis” or “iter ter”.

In addition, prescriptions with a related doctor’s fee that have not yet been dispensed in Finland cannot be dispensed abroad.

Acting on behalf of another person in overseas pharmacies is not possible because the required information cannot be shared electronically between the countries. A person under 18 cannot buy medicines with a European e-prescription because an underage person cannot give their consent in My Kanta Pages to share their prescription data overseas.

Prescriptions for purchasing medications abroad

If you intend to buy the medicine in an overseas country where Finnish e-presciptions are not valid, 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.

Reimbursement for medicine expenses

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.

My Health @ EU logo. eHealth Digital Service Infrastructure. The service is provided by the European Union.

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Last updated 09.10.2020