Pills by post as Swedish pharmacy goes online

Starting on Monday, Sweden's pharmacy chain, Apoteket, will offer prescription medicines over the Internet and deliver them direct to customers' homes.

The kickoff to the new system starts just a few weeks after an investigation showed an error in the pharmacy’s on-line ordering system made it possible for minors to order prohibited material, such as nicotine gum, through the site.

Narcotic-classed drugs, such as sleeping pills, will not be delivered. Nor will refrigerated drugs.

When customers first use the system they will be offered advice from a pharmacist. Then the customer will have a fixed time to talk with advisor once a year or when the customer orders a new medicine.

“There is today no company in the world that offers E-shopping and advice in the way Apoteket does now,” said Stefan Carlsson, head of the pharmacy chain.

“Through buying via telephone and the Internet, we can substantially raise our availability to customers while maintaining safety and information.”

Customers will need to save their prescriptions electronically with Apoteket. Those interested will need a special code and program application, which they must pick up at their local store.

The goal is to have 10 percent of all prescriptions going through the system by 2009. Today, some 800,000 people have requested the E-identification needed, while 60,000 have already chosen to save their prescriptions at Apoteket.