On 11 April 2023, the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport announced a new policy rule for the online prescription of medication, which came into force on 12 April 2023. This policy rule introduces a tolerance policy for the online prescription of medication without the prescriber ever meeting the patient in person beforehand. Under this policy rule, no enforcement action will be taken against violation of Article 67 of the Dutch Medicines Act (Geneesmiddelenwet) if certain conditions are met.
This policy rule is only an interim stage prior to the adoption of an amendment of the Dutch Medicines Act. The Dutch government intends to eventually replace the strict prohibition of Article 67 of the Dutch Medicines Act with a more nuanced provision. The adoption of this policy rule reflects the overarching objective of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport to bring the Dutch Medicines Act in line with the current practice.
This policy rule is inspired by the tolerance policy adopted during the COVID-19 pandemic. For the duration of the pandemic, the Dutch Health and Youth Care Inspectorate (Inspectie voor Gezondheidszorg en Jeugd) accepted a deviation from Article 67 of the Dutch Medicines Act, which permitted physicians to prescribe medication online, provided the prescriber was able to see the patient’s current medication history (including allergies), and the prescriber informed the patient’s primary care provider and/or GP as soon as possible afterwards.
The tolerance policy during the COVID-19 pandemic was met with positive response. After the temporary exception of Article 67 of the Dutch Medicines Act was reversed on 1 June 2022, the Royal Dutch Medical Association (KNMG) started an evaluation of the possibility and desirability of online prescription and started discussions with the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport that resulted in the current policy rule.
The new policy rule describes two requirements that must be met to bypass enforcement of Article 67 of the Dutch Medicines Act. It should not be necessary to conduct a physical consultation or examination in order to determine whether and, if so, which medication should be prescribed. In addition, the prescriber should have the patient’s current medication history available and consult this if necessary. These requirements differ slightly from those applied by the Dutch Health and Youth Care Inspectorate during the pandemic, as it is no longer required to inform the patient’s primary care provider, thereby further broadening the possibilities of prescribing medication online.
For further information on national frameworks with regard to online healthcare, please see our multi-jurisdictional tracker on Telemedicine here.