Iceland, Denmark, and Norway Collaborate to Lower Drug Prices

Prozac pills

Iceland will collaborate with Danish and Norwegian authorities to aim to lower the cost of pharmaceutical drugs, RÚV reports. An agreement between the countries was signed in Reykjavík yesterday. María Heimisdóttir, CEO of Icelandic Health Insurance (IHI), says the co-operation is not only about lowering drug prices for the public, but also patient safety.

“There have been too many examples of drug shortages happening and we firmly expect that purchasing [pharmaceuticals] in larger quantities with our neighbouring countries could reduce drug shortages and thus increase patient safety and that’s of course the most important thing,” María stated. She added that pharmaceutical drugs have often been priced higher in Iceland than other countries, an issue which the project also hopes to address.

Health Minister Svandís Svavarsdóttir told reporters it was “very gratifying” to see the collaboration realised, as the project has been in the works for a long time. By launching joint invitations to pharmaceutical companies to bid on the sale of products, Svandís explained, the trio of countries would be in a better position to negotiate lower prices, particularly for certain types of very expensive drugs. Svandís refrained from commenting on which specific drugs were in question, though she stated her hope that the project would start having an impact in the next year or so.

Temperatures Up to 16°C Tomorrow on First Day of Summer

Laugardalslaug Pool Reykjavík.

Sunshine and summer temperatures are expected tomorrow on Iceland’s national holiday known as Sumardagurinn fyrsti, or the First Day of Summer. The Icelandic Met Office forecasts temperatures as high as 16°C (60.8°F) in some regions tomorrow afternoon, and sunshine virtually across the entire country.

The First Day of Summer is marked yearly in Iceland on the first Thursday following April 18. Weather on the holiday, however, is often not as pleasant as the its name suggests, regularly featuring rain, wind, and snow. If the Icelandic Met Office’s forecast is to be trusted, however, tomorrow has both sunshine and high temperatures in store for residents and visitors across the country.

Temperatures are expected to reach a high of 16°C (60.8°F) between 3.00-4.00pm tomorrow in Reykjavík, and 1.00-4.00pm in Northwest Iceland. Parts of West Iceland could see highs of 15°C (59°F) while South Iceland and the Westfjords may reach highs of 13°C (55.4°F). In East Iceland, expected highs are a tad lower, at 11°C (51.8°F), though a fair amount of sunshine is expected in the region, as nearly everywhere else on the island.

The good weather will not hold out for long, however, as rain is in the forecast in much of the country tomorrow evening.

Union Members Approve Collective Agreements

Anna Sólveig Jónsdóttir Efling Union

Voting results are in for several collective agreements, Vísir reports. Members of Efling and VR unions, as well as members of unions belonging to the Federation of General and Special Workers (SGS) have approved the collective agreements signed by negotiators earlier this month. Though all agreements were approved with a strong majority, voter turnout was fairly low.

Only 12.78% of union members under SGS voted on their collective agreement. Of those who voted, 80.06% voted to approve the agreement, while 17.33% voted against it, and 2.61% did not take a stance.

Voter turnout among Efling members was lower still, at 10.16%. Of those who voted, 77.07% voted for the agreement, 20.59% voted against, and 2.34% remained neutral. Viðar Þorsteinsson, Efling’s Managing Director, expressed his satisfaction with the voting results, saying they represent firm support of the agreement. “We celebrate that [the collective agreement] has gone through. I think it’s to everyone’s advantage that there is such a firm outcome.”

Voter turnout was higher among VR Union members, who voted on two agreements, with the Icelandic Federation of Trade (FA) and the Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise (SA). More than one quarter of VR members voted on the collective agreement with FA, or 26.55%. Of those who voted, 88.47% voted for, 10.42% voted against, and 1.1% did not take a stance. VR’s collective agreement with SA was approved with an 88.35% majority, with 9.85% against and 1.7% neutral. Voter turnout was 20.85%.

This article has been updated.