The European directive 2011/24/EU* sets out rules to promote access to safe and high-quality cross-border healthcare within the European Union* and to guarantee the mobility of patients.
Each country of the European Union* is responsible for organising its own healthcare system and its provision of healthcare.
This directive, however, lays down a number of basic principles, in areas such as the prescription, dispensing and supplying of medicines. The Commission implementing directive 2012/52/EU sets out the minimum information to be given in order to simplify the supply of medicines in another country of the European Union* and to minimise the risk of mistakes, such as giving the wrong dosage for the age of the patient.
It is important to state that other countries of the European Union* are not obliged to recognise medical prescriptions for medicines containing certain narcotics or psychotropic substances.
Here you can find information concerning:
• whether you can use a prescription in another country of the European Union*
• the new rules on prescribing medicines (this section is geared in particular towards all those who prescribe medicines).
The reverse is also true: in Belgium you can use a prescription for medicines or medical devices which has been issued in another country in the European Union*.
If you are planning to use your prescription in another country of the European Union*, you should inform the prescriber (e.g. your doctor or dentist), since in this case your prescription will have to respect certain guidelines. The prescriber, for example, should in principle refer to an active substance, rather than a brand name.
Medicines prescribed in Belgium can not always be obtained in another country of the European Union*. It is also possible that a medicine prescribed abroad can not be obtained in Belgium.
If you use a prescription for medicines or medical devices abroad, you may have to pay the full cost. In this case, on your return home you can submit the receipts to your health insurance fund* and request reimbursement.
Contact your health insurance fund* or the National Contact Point(link is external) in your home country.
New data which must appear on the medical prescription
The European rules set out a number of elements which must appear on medical prescriptions for medicines to be dispensed in another country of the European Union*. These elements are almost identical to those required in Belgium. There are only a few differences, i.e.:
- the professional qualification of the prescriber is required, and details for contacting him directly (e-mail address and telephone or fax number);
- the patient’s date of birth must be given;
- the prescription must give the common name (active substance) of the medicinal product.
The brand name should be given when:
• the product concerned is a biological medicinal product,
• the prescriber deems it medically necessary; he must briefly give his reasons.
The standard template for prescriptions remains the same
In practice, the standard template for prescriptions has not changed:
• your work address, direct contact details and professional qualification (based on your NIHDI number) are all covered by your stamp. If you have not yet done so, you should add an e-mail address to your stamp;
• the patient’s date of birth is contained in the national register number which the pharmacist can consult via MyCareNet, a central services platform which can be used by individual healthcare providers and institutions to exchange information with the healthcare fund* in a simple, reliable and safe manner, and;
• you may already indicate the common name (active substance).
It is not necessary, then, to provide a special prescription if it is to be used in another country of the European Union*.
The difference between this and a purely “Belgian” prescription is that you:
• are required to prescribe the product on the basis of the common name (active substance), except in the cases referred to above;
• must provide the additional identification data on the patient, and must add information on your professional qualification, manually. This is needed because pharmacists from another country in the European Union* have no access to MyCareNet to check the patient’s date of birth and will not understand the qualification code contained in your NIHDI number.
* cf. Glossary