Fewer Resources Lead to More Armed Robberies

Prozac pills

Two armed robberies took place in pharmacies in the Reykjavík capital area on Saturday afternoon. The director of the Pharmaceutical Society of Iceland told RÚV it’s unfortunate that resources for people struggling with addiction have been shut down with nothing to replace them. She says the problem must be addressed holistically.

An armed robbery took place in the Vesturbær neighbourhood near downtown Reykjavík last Saturday afternoon. The three perpetrators were apprehended afterwards while attempting to flee the scene. The perpetrators threatened staff with a sharp weapon and went behind the counter, where they demanded narcotics and other drugs. Another unarmed robbery occurred at Smáratorg shopping plaza in Kópavogur the same day. The perpetrator was also apprehended shortly after the act.

Read More: Opioid Addiction in Iceland

Sigurbjörg Sæunn Guðmundsdóttir, director of the Pharmaceutical Society of Iceland, says there is no data to show whether robberies are becoming more common in pharmacies. “They have been increasing n certain countries, and in those countries, what I am concerned about, pharmacists are scared away and you just can’t get them to work there because their safety is threatened.”

She adds, however, that the problem must be addressed holistically. “We maybe need to map out; who is committing these robberies, which drugs are being stolen, is there something we can do as a society, are there some sort of resources missing?”

Resources cut out without being replaced

In December of last year, authorities revoked the licence of rheumatologist Árni Tómas Ragnarsson to prescribe certain drugs. For many years, Árni had prescribed morphine to individuals struggling with addiction for the purpose of harm reduction. Sigurbjörg says there may be a connection between that decision and the recently reported robberies.

“Because there was a group that one specific doctor was attending to. Though not using recognised methods. Everything is pulled from underneath those unrecognised methods. And no other processes put in to replace them.”

Like reading about Iceland? How about winning a free trip to Iceland? Find out more here!

New Regulations on Rx Pick-Up Take Effect

New regulations governing the pick-up of prescription medication will go into effect next week. Per a statement on the on Government of Iceland website, starting on Tuesday, March 10, medication will only be given over to the person to whom the prescription was written, or to someone who has that person’s express written authorisation. Anyone who is picking up a prescription will be required to show valid identification.

These changes are going into effect on the basis of incidents where medication has been given over to someone other than the prescription holder without their authorisation and thus represents a violation of privacy.

Authorisation for a proxy to pick up medication must be in writing and must also bear the signatures of two witnesses, along with their full names and kennitala (Iceland’s national ID number). The original authorisation or a copy of it will then be kept at the pharmacy. This authorisation can specify if the proxy is empowered to pick up any medication on behalf of the prescription holder for an indefinite period of time or just a single medication for a limited amount of time. Parents are permitted to pick up medication for children 16 years and younger without written authorisation.