More than 80 Medications Unavailable in Iceland Skip to content
Prozac pills

More than 80 Medications Unavailable in Iceland

Drug manufacturers’ preference for larger markets means that dozens of medications are currently unavailable in Iceland, RÚV reports. Pharmacist Aðalsteinn Jens Loftsson says the situation can make it difficult for locals to obtain the right medications and can be outright dangerous. Even Brexit is affecting the availability of a certain drug on the Icelandic market.

“We run into this on a daily basis, no question, to a varying degree. Some situations are more serious than others and more difficult to solve,” Aðalsteinn says. Medication for haemorrhoids is one example of a drug that has been unavailable. “The manufacturer of these suppositories decided to stop manufacturing them and sell the licence to another manufacturer. They showed no interest in Iceland and decided to just return the market licence so the drug is delisted.”

Working around such challenges has proven difficult in many cases. Though some importers have attempted to obtain exceptional licences to import unavailable drugs or other drugs similar to them, “it hasn’t gone well enough at all,” says Aðalsteinn. Last summer, thyroid drugs and nasal spray for allergies were both unobtainable in Iceland. Beta blockers, prescribed for high blood pressure, have also been unavailable. “You can name one more. An old and good antibiotic which was simply delisted this summer. It was the only drug in its category.”

Burden on health care system

In many cases, when a prescribed drug is unavailable, pharmacists do not have legal authority to prescribe an alternative. Patients then have no choice but to consult a doctor again. This not only leads to higher expense for the patient, but also “an additional burden on clinics, doctors, specialists, and the hospital,” Aðalsteinn says. “So I would say it would be desirable for those who are dealing with these issues to gather together for one good meeting and seek solutions.”

New drugs seek big markets

Aðalsteinn points out that new drugs can also take time to reach Iceland, as they are often marketed in larger countries first. “That’s no secret.”

The Icelandic Medicines Agency website publishes a list of currently unavailable medications.

Sign up for our weekly newsletter

Get news from Iceland, photos, and in-depth stories delivered to your inbox every week!

* indicates required

Subscribe to Iceland Review

In-depth stories and high-quality photography showcasing life in Iceland!

Share article