1. What is a European prescription?

A European prescription is a paper printout that is used when you wish to purchase medication in another EU country. You can ask your doctor for a European prescription called a ‘Medical prescription for purchasing medication abroad’. Your doctor will then print out a medical prescription in English, which you can use in other EU countries like a paper prescription. It cannot be used for purchasing medication in Finland and you cannot print one out from the My Kanta service.

EU countries must recognise prescriptions issued in other EU countries. This means that an Estonian prescription, for example, can be used to purchase medication in Finland, and vice versa. The precondition is that the prescription contains the required information and that the medicine in question is licensed for sale in the country where it is purchased. When purchasing medication in another EU country, the validity of the prescription is determined based on where the medicine is purchased. In Finland, a prescription is usually valid for two years.

The prescription must be written using the name of the active substance in the medicinal product when the intention is to purchase the medication in another member country. This is to ensure that the patient receives the correct medicine, since the trade names of medicinal products can vary between countries. The prescription can be written using the trade name if the product in question is a biological drug or if the use of the trade name is justified. The doctor in question must justify the use of the trade name in the prescription.

The recognition of a prescription does not apply to narcotics or psychotropic substances, which means that such medicines cannot be purchased with a European prescription. All other medicines can be prescribed with a European prescription.

A medical prescription for purchasing medication abroad can be issued by a health care professional authorised to prescribe medication. In Finland, a European prescription can be issued by a doctor or nurse with a limited right to prescribe medication.

  1. Can a patient have an electronic prescription for purchasing medication domestically and a European prescription for other EU countries?

Yes. For medicine purchases in Finland, a patient is provided with an electronic prescription. For medicine purchases abroad, the patient must ask the doctor for a European prescription called a ‘Medical prescription for purchasing medication abroad’, which can be used like a paper prescription in other EU countries. The European prescription is not electronic since, as of yet, there are no permanent systems in place between EU member states for the electronic processing of prescriptions.

If necessary, a doctor can write two prescriptions for the same medicine – an electronic prescription and a prescription for purchasing medication abroad.

  1. Is a Finnish electronic prescription valid abroad?

A Finnish electronic prescription will not work abroad. A printout of an electronic prescription provided by a doctor, ‘Medical prescription for purchasing medication abroad’, serves as a medical prescription in other EU countries. The printout cannot be used for purchasing medication in Finland.

It is possible that, in the coming years, the joint use of electronic prescriptions will expand in the areas near Finland in Sweden and Estonia.

  1. In what language is a European prescription written?

The medical prescription for purchasing medication abroad is in English. The language options are Finnish and English or Swedish and English.

  1. Do paper prescriptions written abroad need to be recognised in Finland?

As a rule of thumb, pharmacies must accept prescriptions issued in another EU or EEA country or Switzerland. The Finnish Medicines Agency Fimea has issued pharmacies with a regulation on the provision of medication (in Finnish) based on a European prescription (in Finnish).

A pharmacy can refuse to provide a medicine under a prescription issued in another EU or EEA country or Switzerland if there is reason to suspect the prescription’s authenticity, validity or content, or if the prescription is unclear or deficient. As of yet, there is no real-time solution for verifying the authenticity of a prescription issued in another country. If necessary, a pharmacy can request a contact point for cross-border health care to provide information on the prescriber.

Finland uses electronic prescriptions.