Lithuania's Ministry of Health has proposed building a state-run system where patients could buy prescription drugs online.
The system would help patients get the best deal, says Gita Krukienė, the head of Pharmacy Department at the ministry. By logging onto their account on the ‘e-sveikata’ (‘e-health’) platform, an online gateway to patients' medical history information, people would see the prices of any drug in different pharmacies.
The system would allow purchase prescription medication as well as drugs whose costs are compensated by the state.
The Lithuanian Association of Pharmacies has opposed the scheme, saying that the major chains already run online shops. So far, however, these only sell non-prescription drugs due to regulation.
Another issue is the cost of the proposed online pharmacy.
“We haven't calculated how much this model will cost. The thing is that the money will come from the overall budget for developing the ‘e-sveikata’ platform,” says Krukienė.
Patient groups suggest looking at successful examples from other countries.
“The patients' interest is to be able to buy medication as fast, convenient and cheap as possible,” says Gediminas Žižys of the Oncological Patients' Association.
Patient groups also insist on the possibility of buying drugs from other countries.
The Ministry of Health says that the regulations allowing online sale of prescription drugs and compensated medication will come into effect in November. However, launching the online selling platform would take at least a year.