Estonia and Portugal agree to mutually recognise electronic prescriptions

Estonia and Portugal signed an agreement on mutual recognition of electronic prescriptions by the end of 2019. The agreement was signed on 16 April 2019 by the Estonian minister of entrepreneurship and information technology and the Portuguese minister of health. Now both Estonia and Portugal will need to implement the agreement nationally. Previously, patients had to have their paper prescriptions on hand in order to buy medicine in another contracting country. With the newly implemented system it is much easier to buy necessary medication while abroad. Estonia already has a similar agreement with Finland – from the beginning of 2019, Finnish electronic prescriptions are recognised in Estonia and by the end of 2019 Estonian electronic prescriptions will also be recognised in Finland. This is a step forward as previously Estonian pharmacies had to deal with about 3,000 foreign prescriptions a year when paper prescriptions were required.

The press release by the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications is available here (in Estonian).

Supreme Court of Estonia rules that a pharmacist or an assistant pharmacist must be physically present in a pharmacy

On 8 May 2019, the Supreme Court of Estonia ruled to reject the appeal petition by an Estonian pharmacy disputing the position that a pharmacist or assistant pharmacist must be present when supplying pharmaceutical services. This means that the previous ruling of 11 December 2018 will take effect immediately.

The pharmacy concerned had instituted an electronic solution where consultation with a pharmacist was available in the pharmacy, but only via video transmission. The courts found, however, that the Medicinal Products Act requires the physical presence of a pharmacist or assistant pharmacist in order to provide a service at the required quality. A video solution is acceptable as a way of complementing ‒ but not substituting ‒ on-site consultation.

The press release by the Estonian Agency of Medicines is available here (in Estonian).

Patient insurance draft law proposed

The Ministry of Social Affairs sent a draft (in Estonian) law to establish a patient insurance system for a coordination round with other ministries. Under the draft law, the new insurance system will be implemented from 1 July 2021. The system includes compulsory liability insurance for healthcare providers, and with it, the creation of a system for recording medical incidents.

The main aim of the patient insurance system is to prevent avoidable medical errors. Instituting patient insurance will protect the interests of patients, while also giving more security to healthcare providers. With the new system, patients who have incurred avoidable damage during a medical procedure can apply for compensation from the Patient Insurance Fund, which will in turn decide on damages.