Social affairs minister Tanel Kiik (Center) has increased subscription volumes at pharmacies, while simultaneously issuing a limit on over-the-counter medicine purchases, as part of the government's ongoing emergency measures during the coronavirus spread.
Prescriptions can be issued now for chronic conditions for a period of up to two months; in the case of a multiple prescription, a pharmacy can dispense a single prescription for up to two months, ERR's online news in Estonian reports. Additionally, only two packs of over-the-counter medicine can be bought per product.
The move is the result of significant increases in demand in the wake of the COVID-19 coronavirus reaching Estonia, which the State Agency of Medicines (Raviamet) says could lead to shortages.
"Over the past week, many people have been buying prescription drugs from their pharmacy all at the same time for all their prescriptions and full quantities. There has also been an unnecessary buying of over-the-counter medicines," said Kristin Raudsepp, Director General at the State Agency of Medicines.
"It is our job to ensure that existing medicines continue to be available to everyone who needs them. As a result, we are reducing prescribing and dispensing volumes to prevent bulk buying," Tanel Kiik said.
In exceptional cases such as life-threatening conditions, greater amounts can be dispensed; the pharmacists has to document these activities.
According to the Health Insurance Fund (Haigekassa), prescription uptake has increased an average of 40 percent in recent weeks compared with the same period last year, while drug sales in pharmacies have increased by nearly 50 percent.
Proposed restrictions on prescribing and dispensing have already been proposed by a number of pharmaceutical organizations, including manufacturers, wholesalers, pharmacies and doctors. To support the implementation of the established restrictions, technical solutions to manage the new prescriptions regulations are being developed.
The restrictions will be lifted at the latest when the emergency situation passes, it is reported.
Editor: Andrew Whyte