Although the government decided to allocate €4.25 million for the purchase of COVID-19 medicines meant for home treatment, the Health Insurance Fund admits that the medicines are unlikely to make it to Estonia this year.
Oral prescription drugs Molnupiravir and Paxlovid are meant for coronavirus patients in risk groups, who have a significant risk to fall seriously ill. The medicines are meant for home treatment and are part of a major European Commission procurement, which Estonia is also a participant of.
The government decided last week that it would allocate €4.25 million to acquire coronavirus medicines, although the European Medicines Agency had not yet given its permission for Molnupiravir yet. Another €15.83 million is planned to be invested next year, although the government cabinet is set to discuss the need for COVID-19 medicines and the cost of acquiring them in December.
On Friday, the European Medicines Agency announced that EU member states could use the Merck coronavirus medicine before its official approval.
ERR contacted the Health Insurance Fund and asked if Estonia is planning on purchasing the medicines before the EU joint procurement and if there are plans to implement the medicine before the European Medicines Agency's approval.
Health and Insurance Fund medicines and medical devices department manager Erki Laidmäe said Estonia might not get its medicines this year, as initially planned.
"We are in contact with pharmaceutical companies and we have understood that it is likely not possible to have these drugs delivered to Estonia this year. This does not depend on whether or not we are buying the medicines directly or if we participate in the European Commission procurement. At the moment, our direction is to participate in the joint procurement. The sales permit is set to arrive in December, but medicines are unlikely to make it before January," Laidmäe said.
The coronavirus medicines will be prescribed and compensated fully for Estonian patients. "Therefore, doctors are able to prescribe the medicines for patients in risk groups after they have been diagnosed with the coronavirus," Laidmäe said.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste