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Exceptional Regime for Electronic Prescriptions in Portugal

Ordinance No. 90-A/2020, of April 9, has just arrived and it brings about an exceptional and temporary regime for electronic prescription of medicines and respective medical prescriptions that will apply during the current period of state of emergency and its possible renewals.

What is the underlying objective here?

The underlying objective here is to ensure the continued access to prescription medicines, particularly for chronically ill patients, being simultaneously in line with the general concern of minimisation of contact between people as a way of reducing the spread of COVID-19.

Is my prescription renewed automatically?

Ordinance No. 90-A/2020 allows for the automatic renewal of electronic prescriptions of medicines that have a six months’ validity and would expire after the date of entry into force of this Ordinance. As such, these will be considered renewed for the same period.

This represents an extension of the renewable medical prescription scheme, being the latter generally applicable to prescription medicines intended for certain illnesses or for long-term treatment, and that, in accordance with its safety use, may be purchased more than once without the need for a new prescription.

Are there any other prescriptions being automatically renewed?

In addition, the following prescriptions are also renewed:

• Medicinal products with the pharmacotherapeutic classification of the group 4.3.1.4 – “Other Anticoagulants”;
• Dietary products indicated to meet the nutritional needs of patients affected by congenital metabolism errors;
• Food and food supplements prescribed to children with respiratory, neurological and/or dietary sequelae secondary to extreme prematurity;
• Co-funded medical devices intended for long-term treatment.
It should also be noted that the new expiry date for the automatically renewed prescription should be counted from the date of expiry of the initial prescription.

Are there any changes to the way in which the medicines will be dispensed?

Ordinance No. 90-A/2020 also provides for an exceptional dispensation regime, applicable to situations in which it is not possible to dispense the prescribed medicine or other of a lower price. In this case, the pharmacist shall dispense the medicine available in stock with the lowest price and report the occurrence.
Also, medicines prescribed electronically on 6-month validity prescriptions cannot be completely dispensed at a single time, as pharmacies should only dispense the necessary parcels to carry out the treatment for up to two months.
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Caiado Guerreiro’s Heath and Pharmaceutical Law team is available for any clarification on this matter.

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