Use of medicines in Finland

Use of medicines in Finland

In Finland, many parties are involved in the decisions on the use of medicines and the steering of pharmacotherapies. Pharmaceutical companies give instructions on the use of their own medicines in line with the Medicines Act and the PIF Code of Ethics.

The attending doctor and the patient collaborate and decide on the choice of medicines for the individual patient. Doctors receive no commission for their prescriptions. The patients decide whether they want to buy their medicines from the pharmacy.

The hospital district decides on the use of a new medicine in the hospitals. The decision is influenced by the medical community’s assessment on its benefits. Finances also play a significant role in decision-making.

The Pharmaceuticals Pricing Board PPB decides on the medicines to be included in the reimbursement system, and thus on the choice of medicines used by the patients.

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health (STM) decides on the vaccines included in the national vaccination programme.

Adherence to treatment is important

It is often difficult for patients to commit to their prescribed medication. Only half of the chronically ill take their medicines in the agreed manner. Guided self-management and the support provided by the entire healthcare chain improve adherence to treatment to an essential degree.

The resources available to healthcare will diminish in the coming decades. Patients are required to be active and take responsibility for their own recovery. By supporting self-care, the system can create functioning therapy models and empower individual patients, putting them on a more equal footing to decide on their medication.

Published by the Finnish Medical Society Duodecim, the Current Care Guidelines also promote uniform medication-related care practices.

Companies are responsible for instructing on use of their products

Pharmacies are responsible not only for dispensing the medicines but they also advise and guide on their correct use.

Pharmaceutical companies instruct on the use of their own medicines within the limits of the Medicines Act and the PIF Code of Ethics.

The use of medicines can always involve adverse reactions. The Medicines Act encourages doctors and pharmacy personnel who come across any unexpected and serious adverse reactions of medicines to report them to the controlling authorities.

All other healthcare professionals are also liable to report the adverse reactions of vaccines to the Institute for Health and Welfare THL.

Pharmacovigilance includes the gathering of information on the adverse reactions of medicines. If necessary, the authorities can require warnings to be printed in the summary of product characteristics SPC of the medicine, or limit its use.

Studies on societal importance of pharmacotherapy development

The surveys commissioned by Pharma Industry Finland PIF from Nordic Healthcare Group (NHG) focus on the overall costs caused by diseases as well as on the impacts of advanced therapies. Studied from the production economy perspective, healthcare is seen as a service production system.

  • The studies on rheumatoid arthritis and schizophrenia were published in 2007.
  • The reports on asthma and breast cancer came out in 2008.

Moreover, the research department of Fimea engages in studies of pharmaceutical-epidemiological, medicine economical and medicines policy nature.

Most frequently used medicine groups

For a long time, the best-selling medicines in Finland were those for the treatment of the major national health problems, cardiovascular diseases and the disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Today, the largest medicine groups by sales are the cancer medicines and the nervous system medicines, such as antidepressants. 

Statistics on the use of medicines 

Current Care Guidelines (Duodecim)

National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL)
Ministry of Social Affairs and Health (STM)

Pharmacotherapies improve and maintain people’s health and functional capacity. At the same time, the operation of the entire healthcare system improves.