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EU plans to unify prescriptions

25th January 2011

The EU wants to reimburse its citizens who seek medical attention in EU-member states other than their own.

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Under a new law approved by the EU parliament, member states will be required to provide information centres where people can go to investigate their options, by late 2013.

The people who will benefit most from such travel include people whose prescriptions cannot be filled in their home countries, as well as people who are on waiting lists for important surgery.

In order to be able to recognise prescriptions across international boundaries, EU member states will have to adopt a more centralised approach in sharing information with one another.

EU health commissioner John Dalli said that the passing of the new law marked a big day for European health and a great victory for patients' rights.

However, some people will need to get prior agreement from health services in their home countries.

People for whom travel is dangerous would probably not be encouraged to travel across national borders.

The health commission also plans to keep track of hospitals that spread hospital-acquired infections (HAIs), in order to block people from seeking service in them.

Dalli said that some rare diseases weren't ever treated in certain countries, and that bigger countries tended to have better health services.

He said that healthcare technologies would also be shared across EU borders.

One stipulation of the new law is that pharmacists will have the right to deny people prescription drugs if they suspect that giving drugs to a particular person would not be ethical.

Only 1% of EU citizens currently seek healthcare in other countries

Some European MEPs were against the measure, however.

Kartika Liotard of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left group in parliament said that the directive would cause health insurers to drive patients to other countries.

The Pharmaceutical Group of the European Union said that pharmacists needed to be careful that the prescriptions with which they were dealing were valid.

Pharmacists should ask for proper identification when dispensing prescriptions, and ideally should also be able to contact the person who wrote the prescription directly.

 

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