Finns have been able to buy drugs in Estonia based on a digital prescription since late January this year, and so far have made use of this option on 3,664 occasions, spokespersons for Finnish healthcare authority Kela said.
Kela spokeswoman, Tiia Lundqvist said that about 500 digital prescriptions issued in Finland are used in Estonia to buy drugs every month. In July, the number jumped to 860.
The numbers are small compared with the total number of prescriptions issued in Finland, which amounted to some two million in the same month, she added.
The system allowing Finns to use their digital prescriptions in Estonia has been up and running since January. Not included in the range of pharmaceutical products Finns can buy here are drugs that affect the central nervous system, and those that contain narcotic substances.
Though in the bigger picture, the amount of drugs bought on Finnish prescriptions in Estonia is small, Teemupekka Virtanen, expert at the Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, thinks the use of digital prescriptions in Estonia is noteworthy.
Virtanen pointed out that the project in question is carried out across the EU, and currently only in its initial stage. Finland and Estonia are the first EU member states to make the arrangement work. By now, Croatia, a holiday destination popular with Finnish tourists, has also joined the project.
"The true benefits will be seen once all countries have come on board," Virtanen said.
The arrangement between Estonia and Finland is a one-way road at this point, with the possibility for Estonians to buy medicines in Finnish drugstores the same way currently still in the works.
"The original idea was to have it done by the end of this year. I can't say anything for certain as long as it hasn't actually been done," Lundqvist said.
The price differences between Finland and Estonia, meanwhile, are significant only in a small number of categories, Virtanen said. "It isn't worth it to travel to Estonia to only to buy drugs," he pointed out.
The motivation for the project, then, isn't to make it possible to access cheaper medication, but to reduce the hassle for all those who live and work abroad and make it easier to get hold of the medication they need, he added.
Editor: Dario Cavegn