Dispensing of European e-prescriptions

Dispensing of European e-prescriptions

Finnish pharmacies can dispense European e-prescriptions. The first country to join the scheme was Estonia. There are country-specific differences in the dispensing of prescriptions.

At first, it has been possible to buy medicines with Estonian prescriptions in Finnish pharmacies. Estonian prescriptions were the first to be dispensed by Finnish pharmacies. Croatian and Portuguese prescriptions will be accepted From 31 August 2020.  More European countries will be joining in later. Information about new countries will be updated on this page as and when they join the service.

Reasons for non-dispensing of prescriptions

An overseas prescription cannot be dispensed in Finland in the case of medicinal products subject to special medical prescription, such as

  • prescription for drug preparations
  • CNS medication that requires the original prescription stored in the pharmacy, the classification of which in the Pharmaceutical Database is PA or ZA.

Acting on behalf of another person is not possible because the required information cannot be shared electronically between the countries. If the underage customer is present in the pharmacy, the transaction is possible in principle. However, there are country-specific differences in the transfer of prescription data of an underage person.

Dispensing a prescription

Before the medicine is dispensed, the overseas customer is identified with a personal identification document containing his/her photo. The customer is also given information about the processing of data in Finland.

Electronic prescriptions are retrieved to Finland from the other country and, correspondingly, the dispensing information is sent to the other country via national contact points. The national contact point in Finland is Kela. The national contact points ensure that only prescriptions that are eligible for dispensing in the country of origin will be transmitted through them to another European country. If no prescription is found, it is checked that the customer has given their consent to share data if that is required in the other country.

Dispensing of medicines follows Fimea’s effective administrative regulation concerning dispensing of medicines on the basis of a European prescription.

Reimbursements only later

Until further notice, it is not possible to claim direct Kela reimbursement for the purchase of medicines in a Finnish pharmacy with an overseas e-prescription. The customer must apply for any reimbursement for medicine expenses afterwards in their country of residence or from Kela, depending on their situation. The customer is given a receipt for the purchase, as well as a printout of the PDF version of the prescription for the purpose of applying for reimbursement for medicine expenses. If the customer is claiming reimbursement from Kela, they are also given a statement of the medicine purchases.

Country-specific differences in dispensing e-prescriptions

Every country maintains a website (ec.europa.eu) setting out the requirements and restrictions concerning cross-border prescriptions.

The special features of countries included in the scheme are described in the following. There may also be other country-specific restrictions concerning dispensing of prescriptions overseas. Further information with respect to each country is available through the above link.

Estonia

  • The identity of the customer is confirmed with a passport or ID card.
  • An Estonian personal identity code is provided when the prescription is requested to be dispensed.
  • No consent is required, but the citizen can refuse sending of prescription data overseas.
  • As a rule, prescriptions are issued with a generic name, and the reason for using the commercial name must be given on the prescription.
  • Unless the doctor has limited the duration of the prescription validity, prescriptions are valid for 60 days and after renewal for 180 days. The majority of prescriptions issued for continuous medication are valid for 180 days. Prescriptions for drug preparations are valid for 30 days.
  • Prescriptions for narcotics cannot be dispensed in Finland. In addition, due to country-specific restrictions with Estonia, it is not possible to dispense certain psychotropic preparations. 
  • A saved dispensing event cannot be rectified or invalidated retrospectively. The patient can contact the doctor and request a new prescription.
  • There are not restrictions concerning the processing of prescription data of an underage person.

Croatia

  • The customer must consent to the release of prescription details abroad through the Croatian Health Portal. Acting on behalf of another person requires consent: persons over 16 years of age can give this consent in the Croatian consent service.
  • The customer is identified by a photo ID. In addition, they must show a health insurance card.
  • When collecting prescriptions, the customer must provide a 9-character insurance code (MBO) from the health insurance card.
  • Prescriptions are valid for 15 days. Prescriptions containing psychotropic substances are valid for 5 days and prescriptions for antibiotics for 3 days.

Portugal

  • The customer must consent to the release of prescription details abroad through the Portuguese NHS Portal.
  • The customer is identified by a passport or identity card.
  • When collecting a prescription, the customer's health insurance code is provided. The code can be found on the back of the identity card (NHS patient ID). In addition, the prescription code and dispensation PIN code are provided. They are on the prescription printout or in the customer’s mobile app.
  • Prescriptions for acute ailments are valid for 30 days and for long-term ailments for six months.
  • Prescriptions are usually issued under a generic name, the use of a trade name must be justified in the prescription.
  • There are not restrictions concerning the processing of prescription data of an underage person.

Last updated 29.09.2020