/ Innovations in electronic prescriptions

5 October, 2020

Felipe von Unger



As a result of the growing market share of online drug purchases and remote medical assistance, the National Institute of Public Health (ISP in spanish) provided pharmacies in August 2020 with an instructional guide for validating electronic prescriptions.

The objective of these guidelines is to provide tools to identify and verify electronic prescriptions, which according to current regulations must satisfy all graphic prescription conditions, in addition to advanced electronic signature.

According to the applicable regulations, pharmacies must be technically directed by a pharmaceutical chemist, who is responsible, among other things, for performing or supervising the proper dispensing of pharmaceutical products, according to the terms set forth in the prescription. In other words, the natural recipients of the guidelines provided by the ISP are precisely the pharmaceutical chemists, who will also be partly responsible for dispensing errors.

The instructions provide tools for the identification and validation of an electronic prescription, which is not the same as a digitalized prescription. It also provides guidelines for verifying both the advanced electronic signature and the prescribing physician’s identity, and concludes with a prescription retention method for drugs with a retained prescription condition.

Even though we believe that the concepts of “pharmacy” and “pharmaceutical warehouse” can be revised in light of the boom in online commerce of medicines, we believe that the Ministry of Health is moving forward in updating the conditions for a safe commerce of medicines, promoting improvements in accessibility, price reduction, speed and time saving, among others.

These actions undertaken by the Ministry of Health are in addition to the rules that the Providers’ Bureau has issued regarding the use of digitalized documents and electronic signatures in providers accreditation processes and remote medical care.