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Ministry of Social Affairs and Health issued decisions to ensure the availability of medicinal products and the functioning of the distribution chain

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health
9.4.2020 16.10 | Published in English on 15.4.2020 at 11.05
Press release 92/2020

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health has decided to extend the validity of a decision made under section 87 of the Emergency Powers Act. The aim is to ensure the availability of medicinal products and the functioning of the distribution chain in Finland in the emergency conditions caused by the novel coronavirus. The content of the decision is the same as of the decision issued by the Ministry on 19 March 2020.

The pharmaceutical supply chain is currently mainly functioning smoothly. However, the Ministry wishes to remind that the decision requires pharmacies to avoid placing unnecessarily large medicine orders to pharmaceutical wholesalers despite transient demand spikes.

Pharmacies are obliged to prioritise orders for equipment, supplies and bandages needed for the use of medicinal products, active pharmaceutical ingredients and medicines. In addition, for medicinal products requiring a prescription, the dispensing shall be limited to a quantity that is equivalent to consumption of a maximum of three months, taking into account the instructions of the Social Insurance Institution of Finland (Apteekkitiedote 4/2020). In the case of self-medication products, the dispensing must not exceed the medicine quantity of the largest approved self-medication package included in the list of self-medication packages maintained by Finnish Medicines Agency, Fimea.

In addition to the provisions applicable to pharmacies, the decision obliges pharmaceutical wholesalers to prioritise the supply of medicines and medical supplies to pharmacies, hospital pharmacies, pharmaceutical centres and automated dose-dispensing units.

Sales of salbutamol products will be restricted to ensure sufficiency and equal accessibility

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health has also issued a decision requiring pharmacies to temporarily restrict the sale of certain salbutamol products more than in the above-mentioned decision on the dispensing of medicinal products in general. The aim of the restriction on sales is to ensure the sufficiency and equal accessibility of these medicines to all patients throughout Finland.

Despite the pandemic caused by the coronavirus, the availability of medicines is generally at a good level in Finland. However, it has come to the attention of Fimea that the sale of so-called opening asthma medicines (salbutamol products) in particular has been significantly higher than normal, which has diminished sales stocks. The risk of availability problems will increase significantly if consumption continues beyond normal levels for a long time.

Based on the decision of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, pharmacies may dispense a one-month quantity to their clients at a time. The purpose of this measure is to ensure the sufficiency of the products.

The decisions of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health are based on the Emergency Powers Act and the decrees on the use of powers under the Act. The decisions will be in force until 13 May 2020. 

Inquiries:

Ulla Närhi, Ministerial Adviser, [email protected]

Merituuli Mähkä, Ministerial Adviser, [email protected]

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