State to crack down on pill imports

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Government authorities want to stop Norwegians from buying prescription drugs online. Health Minister Anne-Grete Strøm-Erichsen claims half of the pills arriving in Norwegian mailboxes are poor imitations of the real thing.

“Organized criminal networks can be behind these counterfeit drugs, and that’s what I want to try to halt,” Strøm-Erichsen told newspaper Aftenposten this week.

Customs officials estimate that as many as 40,000 packets of alleged medication arrives in Norway every day, privately imported by individuals shopping online at much lower prices than what’s charged in Norwegian pharmacies. Strøm-Erichsen wants pills that are classified as prescription drugs in Norway to be destroyed, and she wants sellers to document their trading rights.

She claims drugs bought online can be dangerous, including pills sold as antibiotics or for weight reduction. The health minister denies her proposal restrains individual trade freedom, arguing that prescription drugs must by approved by a doctor and delivered from a pharmacy. “Internet trade challenges this form of quality control,” Strøm-Erichsen said.

Local drug makers and customs officials welcomed the initiative and there was also support for it from opposition politicians in Parliament.

Views and News staff