Online pharmacies contribute to keeping healthcare affordable, Dutch Health Minister says
Brussels, 16 January 2023 – the e-pharmacy sector welcomes the remarks from Dutch Minister of Health Mr Ernst Kuipers on the key role played by online pharmacies in making healthcare systems more accessible to patients.
In response to a parliamentary question posed by Socialist Member of Parliament Maarten Hijink, which raised the topic of the reimbursement of services provided by online pharmacies, Mr Kuipers underlined that e-pharmacies contribute to the overall functioning of the healthcare system as a “means to keep healthcare affordable”. According to the Minister, Dutch citizens should be free to decide whether to purchase medication (both prescription and over-the-counter) online or in a brick-and-mortar pharmacy, without any kind of discrimination. Mr Kuipers also added that health insurers have the responsibility to promote and facilitate the digital transformation of healthcare: “This also applies to the quality, accessibility and affordability of pharmacy care, especially in the future. New forms of care and digital forms of care can help with this”, says the Minister, which went further by arguing that health insurers have the responsibility to offer the best possible deal.
The EAEP welcomes and echoes Minister Kuipers’ comments and stresses that any form of discriminatory measures affecting online pharmacies cannot be justified and ultimately result in further barriers for patients to access healthcare. While in the Netherlands the online sale of prescription medicines is already foreseen in the legal framework, a real level playing field between healthcare providers (both e-pharmacies and brick-and-mortar pharmacy) is yet to be fully established.
The Minister’s comments come at a time when the European Union Institutions are discussing a key proposal for legislation – the European Health Data Space (EHDS), where online pharmacies are also addressed – on how to establish a highway for cross-border digital health, by fostering the sharing of patients’ health data (e.g. e-prescriptions and e-patient summaries), with a view to enable citizens to make full use of digitalisation to receive healthcare support. While a final legislation will most likely only be available in 2024, the Minister’s comments strengthen the view that in the coming years the much-needed level playing field between healthcare providers will be established – as advocated by the EAEP in its recent paper.
To know more about the EAEP’s position on the EHDS and related dossiers, visit: https://www.eaep.com/en/publications
Profile: The European Association of E-Pharmacies (EAEP) represents the interests of e-pharmacies on the European continent. The EAEP voices its interests mainly with political stakeholders, regional and business actors, with the ultimate aim to improve the health of Europe’s citizens and strengthen the European healthcare system. E-pharmacies have digitalised the classical pharmacy, and therefore act at the crossroads of digitalisation, healthcare, e-commerce and sustainability. As pioneers in providing digital solutions and our innovative and secure processes in dealing with health data, offering medicinal products and digital healthcare service while complying with national and EU law, the EAEP members continuously seek for ways to enhance the quality, safety and efficiency of healthcare for Europeans.