Overview of the Latvian pharmacy market

02.03.2020 Overview of the Latvian pharmacy market

Zane Skļamina, Associate at TGS Baltic Latvia, summarises key legal developments related to the Latvian pharmaceutical market.

Only International Non-proprietary Names (INN) must be indicated in prescriptions for reimbursable medicinal products starting from 1 April 2020

In order to ensure rational use of medicinal products and to potentially reduce prices of medicinal products, including co-payments made by patients, the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Latvia adopted amendments to Regulation No. 899 “Procedures for the Reimbursement of Expenditures for the Acquisition of Medicinal Products and Medical Devices Intended for the Outpatient Medical Treatment”, setting out an obligation for medical professionals to indicate just the INN name in prescriptions for reimbursable medicinal products.

However, the name of a particular medicinal product (specific brand name) might be indicated in cases when the medical professional can provide a medical justification considering the patient's health, for example, a particular medicinal product has far less side effects or does not have certain excipients which could potentially affect patient’s health.

The amendments also address pharmacies – pharmacists will have the obligation to provide the patient with the cheapest medicinal product available at the pharmacy, as well as to ensure that all of the cheapest reimbursable medicinal products are always in stock.

The Ministry of Health of the Republic of Latvia seeks to reduce the co-payments made by patients by obliging the medical professionals and pharmacies to provide patients only with the cheapest options, while indirectly encouraging the manufacturers to lower their prices in order to maintain their place in the market or improve the medicinal products.

Administrative sanctions revised in the pharmaceutical sector

In the framework of the administrative liability reform, which is currently in place, all administrative sanctions in the pharmaceutical sector are being revised and amended. The purpose of the revision is to fill the gaps and increase the administrative liability due to the potentially dangerous nature of violations, which could pose a direct threat to the individual and public health, as well as to improve compliance.

Currently, administrative liability for violations in the pharmaceutical sector is regulated by 10 administrative sanctions, which, most of the time, are very vague and cause many misunderstandings in their application, while the new regulatory framework will include 42 administrative sanctions. To name a few – administrative liability in each distribution stage, administrative liability for violating rules regulating e-pharmacies, providing free samples, for refusing to provide medicinal products to pharmacies upon request, and other more specific administrative sanctions. 

It is believed that the new administrative sanctions will come into force on 1 July 2020.