Purchasing medication abroad

Ask your doctor to provide a medical prescription for purchasing medication abroad if you intend to purchase medication in another EU or EEA country. Electronic prescriptions are also valid in Estonia, Croatia, Portugal, Poland and Spain. If you wish to purchase prescription medication outside the EU and EEA countries, you normally need a prescription issued by a local health care professional.

You can buy medicines from other EU or EEA countries either with a separate paper prescription or with an electronic prescription.

Paper prescription for purchasing medication abroad

You can ask the prescribing professional for a prescription that is valid in EU and EEA countries. The prescription is called a ‘Medical prescription for purchasing medication abroad’. You will get a printout of the prescription in English. You cannot use the printout for purchasing medication in Finland, and you cannot print out the prescription yourself from the My Kanta service.

Prescriptions are issued using the name of the active substance of the medicine. The prescription can be issued using the trade name if the product in question is a biological medicine or if the use of the trade name is medically justified. The doctor in question must justify the use of the trade name in the prescription.

Using electronic prescriptions abroad

The Finnish electronic prescription will gradually become valid in other EU countries. For now prescription medicines can be purchased in Estonia, Croatia, Portugal and Poland. Finnish electronic prescription works in some Portuguese, Polish and Spanish pharmacies, whereas every Croatian and Estonian pharmacy offers the service. You can purchase the medication by showing your passport or official identity card in the pharmacy. The electronic prescription can also be used in Finland. Note, however, that not all medicines can be purchased with an electronic prescription abroad. Check the restrictions on the Kanta.fi website.

General information on buying medication abroad

The following principles apply to the prescription:

  • Medicines classified as narcotics or psychotropic medicines cannot be obtained abroad with a prescription issued in Finland.
  • If you buy a prescription medicine abroad, the medicine you are given may be a different one than the one you get at a pharmacy in Finland. Generic substitution of medicines abroad may be made according to other principles than in Finland.
  • The period of validity of the prescription is defined based on the legislation of the country where the medication is purchased. In Finland, a prescription is usually valid for two years.
  • A pharmacy may refuse to fill a prescription issued in another country if there is doubt of the authenticity or validity of the prescription.

The authorities of EU countries can exchange information on the rights of health care professionals to prescribe medication if the authenticity of a prescription is in doubt, for example. If a pharmacy doubts the authenticity of a prescription issued in another EU country, it may request a contact point for cross-border health care to determine the right of the person who issued the prescription to prescribe medication. This might take a few days because the system is not real-time.

Prices of medication abroad

You can read more about the prices of medication abroad on the websites of the pharmacies in the country in question or by contacting the country’s contact point for cross-border health care.