Prescription Drugs Still Only Available at Pharmacies

The current government will not permit online ordering and home delivery of prescription drugs. The Ministry of Health has promised to present a plan soon on how mail-order delivery could function without endangering anyone. For now, patients will have no choice but to pick up their prescriptions in person at pharmacies. Some medications, for example, those containing controlled substances, would not be eligible for courier delivery.

Tom Philipp, Vice-Chairman of the Parliamentary Health Committee, who advocates for mail-order delivery of prescription medications, acknowledges that the probability of discussing these proposals before the end of the election period is very low. Despite the Ministry’s lack of outright rejection, they express caution and plan to engage in informal consultations with pharmacists, patients, distributors, and other stakeholders.

According to Daniela Rrahmaniová, Director of the Department of Medicines and Medical Devices, maintaining patient-pharmacist contact is key. She emphasized the necessity of mandatory viewing of the patient’s medication record as part of the mail-order delivery system. Furthermore, the number of deliveries a single pharmacist can handle and the list of eligible medications would need to be limited, excluding those with addictive substances.

The Ministry of Health criticized the National Association of Patient Organizations for not informing respondents about potential risks, such as the bankruptcy of small village pharmacies due to loss of business. Vice President of the Czech Chamber of Pharmacists, Martin Kopecký, highlighted the importance of introducing safety features before disrupting the network of physical pharmacies.

Romana Skácelová from the Antitrust Office, which recommended mail-order delivery of these medications last year, countered that such a system would not end physical pharmacies. She cited experiences from other countries where no radical shift to online sales occurred. Pharmacists point out that face-to-face interactions often catch medical errors, such as drug interactions or duplications, which could have adverse effects on patients.

The effort to introduce mail-order delivery was also pursued by former Minister Adam Vojtěch, who managed to bring the proposal to the Parliament in 2021 but was ultimately not adopted.