Finns to be able to buy prescription medicine in Estonia

One of the first steps towards the free movement of data in the European Union is coming true in the summer of 2018 when Finnish residents will be able to buy prescription drugs from Estonian pharmacies using e-prescriptions issued by Finnish doctors.

The Finnish newspaper, Uutisuomalainen, reported that Finnish pharmacies will also be able to fill Estonain e-scrips, but only when the required infrastructure is ready – which is expected to happen in 2019. Around the same time, Sweden should also join the electronic prescription system.

The Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), which is coordinating the project in the country, says the changes will primarily benefit travellers, the newspaper says. But considering Finland is one of the most expensive countries in the eurozone, Finnish people buying their prescription medicine in Estonia may also save money.

Data exchange to offer better public services

This is one of the first steps to make the free movement of data in the European Union become reality, even though it’s only between two countries, not the entire EU. For a service like the e-prescription to work across the borders of all of the EU member states, these countries also need a digital ID system similar to the Estonian ID-card.

To that end, in 2014, the EU countries passed the eIDAS regulation that set the rules for accepting the digital signature across the union. The regulation became law in July 2016, and the part of this legal act that deals with the mutual recognition of digital identities will become law in 2018.

Estonia and Finland have been developing a data exchange platform that is based on the Estonian data exchange layer X-Road. Data exchange between Estonia and Finland, making the databases interchangeably available, aims to offer better public services to citizens and businesses that operate across the borders.

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Cover: Jars at the oldest pharmacy in Tallinn (the image is illustrative/Shutterstock).

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About the author: Sten Hankewitz

Sten Hankewitz is a lifelong journalist and Deputy Editor of Estonian World. Having lived in Estonia, Spain and the UK, he now resides in the United States. He loves to write and besides contributing to Estonian World and some occasional blogging, he writes for other media outlets in Estonia, Israel and elsewhere. He has strong convictions and he shows them unashamedly. You can follow him on Twitter, friend him on Facebook or check out his personal blog. You can write to Sten at sten@estonianworld.com.