The European Cross-Border ePrescription System Improves Access to Medications, But Disruptive Factors Need to Be Considered

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The European cross-border ePrescription (CBeP) system improves access to medications for EU citizens reports a questionnaire study of Finnish and Estonian pharmacists published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research. However, accessibility can sometimes be limited by errors or ambiguities in the ePrescriptions, pharmaceutical market differences, and technical problems in the CBeP dispensing system.

The CBeP service allows the patient to purchase prescription medication from a community pharmacy in another EU country using an electronic prescription that has been issued in their home country. The CBeP service is currently available in six European countries, with Estonia and Finland being the first countries to implement the service in both directions. The launch of the CBeP service in 2019 was an important milestone in increasing mobility in health care and access to medicines across the European Union and has been unstudied to date. The findings of this published study support the aims set by the European Commission: to ensure the continuity of care for European citizens.

The majority of Estonian and Finnish respondents (ie, over 80%) agreed that CBePs have improved patients’ access to medications. Problems with the availability of medications when dispensing CBePs, such as prescribed active ingredient, strength, or equivalent package size of the medication being unavailable in the market, were reported by 76.2% of Estonian and 35.1% of Finnish respondents. Encountering ambiguities or errors in CBePs, such as an incorrect pharmaceutical form or total amount of medication, was observed by 60.7% of Estonian and 42.8% of Finnish respondents. However, availability issues and ambiguities or errors were encountered rarely. Another disruptive factor, technical problems in the CBeP system, was reported by 57.1% of Estonian and 40.2% of Finnish respondents. Around one-fifth of respondents from both countries had encountered technical problems often. Of those who had encountered technical problems, 84.5% reported that they had been unable to dispense a CBeP because of the problem that occurred. Most of the respondents had access to the guidelines (78.1%) and received sufficient training (61.7%) for dispensing CBePs. However, it was brought out that the content of the guidelines could be improved.

The study was conducted in collaboration between the Institute of Pharmacy of the University of Tartu, the School of Pharmacy of the University of Eastern Finland, the Estonian State Agency of Medicines, the Social Insurance Institution of Finland, and the Finnish Medicines Agency. The Finnish-Estonian research group collected data with an electronic survey conducted among Estonian and Finnish community pharmacists who had experience with dispensing CBePs in the spring of 2021. The survey was answered by 84 pharmacists from Estonia and 154 pharmacists from Finland. The study was funded by the Social Insurance Institution of Finland.

Original article:

Jõgi R, Timonen J, Saastamoinen L, Laius O, Volmer D. Implementation of European Cross-border Electronic Prescription and Electronic Dispensing Service: Cross-sectional Survey. J Med Internet Res. 2023;25:e42453.


doi: 10.2196/42453

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