Pharmacies have been permitted to offer services on the Internet since February 2011. Pharmacies’ duty to provide medicinal product advisory services also covers online services.
The Act on the Amendment of the Medicines Act (1112/2010) entered into force on 1 February 2011. The amendment allows the sale of medicinal products over the Internet. The amendment permits individual pharmacists and the pharmacies of the University of Helsinki and University of Eastern Finland to offer online services, but advance notification of online pharmacy service administration must be submitted to the Finnish Medicines Agency, Fimea. Operations may be commenced unless the Agency has requested additional information or prohibited the commencement of operations within sixty days of the arrival of the notification. The purpose of allowing Internet sales is to improve the availability of medicinal products, particularly in sparsely populated areas. The first online pharmacy services have already been opened.
The Government Decree on the Amendment of the Medicines Decree (69/2011) entered into force at the same time as the amendment to the Medicines Act. The amendment to the decree obligates pharmacies with online services to ensure that customers have access to advisory services before orders placed via the online service are paid for or otherwise confirmed. Pharmacists are also obligated to attend to the proper storage and transportation conditions of medicinal products supplied via the online service.
On 10 May, Fimea issued administrative regulation 2/2011 concerning online services of pharmacies, which specifies the implementation of online sales of medicinal products on a general level, for example, the operations and premises of online services, the selection of medicinal products, the packaging and transportation of medicinal products, the advice and information provided on medicinal products, the handling of returns and complaints as well as the technical implementation of the online service. According to the administrative regulation, pharmacists must, among other things, ensure that no outside parties can access customer information in the online service and that all the data traffic of the online services must be secured. If a third-party company participates in the technical implementation of the online service, a confidentiality agreement covering all the persons participating in the implementation of the online service must be concluded with the company. All of the log-ins of pharmacy staff, software suppliers, server administrators and any other parties involved in the technical implementation must be traceable.