Friday, 2 October 2015

Norwegian Medicines Agency confirms private import of e-cigarettes still legal

Yesterday I wrote that the Norwegian Medicines Agency (NOMA) have implemented new rules on private import of pharmaceuticals here in Norway. The Norwegian Union of Vapers (NDS) had already talked to reliable sources that said e-cigarette import for private use would not be affected by these new rules, meaning we'd still be allowed to order e-liquid for 3 months use online. Some hours later the government confirms this in a press release. This means nothing has changed regarding import of e-cigarettes and e-liquid to Norway, and for now, we don't have to choose between being criminals or smokers. Thanks again to NDS for their efforts in this matter. I've translated the press release below:
A great many Norwegians are buying fake and illegal medicines online. To protect the public from exposure to substances that in the worst cases can be harmful, the government now introduce new rules for private import of medicines.
From October 1st, you can only privately import prescription drugs that have been approved in Norway. This means that the package text must be Norwegian. The requirement for approval in Norway follows from the EEA Agreement. The new rules also means that one can no longer privately import prescription medicines.
WHO estimates that 50 percent of medicines sold over the Internet are fake. This may mean that the medicines are ineffective, so serious illness may not be treated, or that they contain substances other than those described. At worst, they can be downright harmful.
Behind these shipments are often organized criminal networks and it is this business we want to put a stop to. Today Customs return these shipments to sender. This means that drugs often been resent. From October 1st, Customs will have the authority to destroy the drugs they confiscate. This way we get the false and illegal drugs out of circulation.
Those who for medical reasons need to get imported medicines that are not sold in this country will still be able to do it legally through a doctor. The doctor has, with these new rules, the opportunity to apply for exemption from approval when it is necessary for the patient to use medicines that do not have marketing authorization in Norway.
E-cigarettes are not covered by the new rules. It will still be allowed to import e-cigarettes to Norway after 1 October. Neither do the new rules do not affect the ability an individual has to bring these medicines into Norway themselves.
While I'm happy to see that e-cigarettes are not affected by these new rules, I still think the rules are the result of totally incompetent politicians not doing their job... at all. As you can see the rules were supposed to be designed to stop criminal networks from sending fake medicines into Norway, which would be great... of course. The problem is that they also ban the import of vitamins, minerals and dietary supplements while they're at it. I came across a good article (in Norwegian) on the matter yesterday (, which questions how this could happen. It could certainly look like big pharma lobbyists have done some work here. An example: Vitamin D bought online costs 65 NOK for 6 months supply. Buying it here in Norway costs 1253 NOK, or 2136 NOK for the prescription version.

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  1. LiisaAusNorwegen2 October 2015 at 15:22

    we do appreciate that this is still legal.
    i do believe that e-juice containing nicotine should be considered as a recreational substance, such as tea and coffee!

    i dont understand how they even consider to regulate e-cigs as a pharmaceutical drug!? What does e-cigs cure?
    on the other hand, we have alot of people that mean e-cigs should be regulated as tobacco - but where is the tobacco in e-cigs?

  2. I just can't believe that it is illegal anywhere!

  3. Another thing is that Norwegian customs estimate that 40 000 small packs of illegal medicines are distributed in Norway every single day every year. This sounds outrageous, if we sum it up it is 10 million packs of medicine every year in a country with 5 million citizens.

    And 50% of this is fake and potentially damaging medicines. That should mean that 5 million packs of suspect medicines every year lead to a massive amount of serious injury and death... or does it? It is a death cased by diet pills in 2014 and a liver injury caused by herbs from China in 2006.

    These numbers do not match up. It is something they don't tell us. In Norway, the Norwegian Medicines Agency is in their sole right to label any vitamines and minerals that exceed the maximum levels as "Medicine", Levels that are the lowest in the world. In Norway, daily intake of vitamin D is set to 800 IE while it is recommended an intake of 2000 - 5000 IE in the winter by serious researchers.

    So how much of these 40 000 parcels of medicines the Goverment was told entered Norway every single day was in fact vitamins and minerals in safe doses according to the rest of EU and EØS? Vitamins was never mentioned before the ban....

  4. Edit abowe: Packs, not parcels. ;)

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