‘Let health food shops sell herbal medicine’

Plant-based medicines should continue to be sold in normal shops, according to an official inquiry.

The chief of the government’s inquiry had been asked to look at whether the Apoteket pharmacy monopoly should take over sale of alternative medicines, something he recommends against. He does, however, call for increased regulation of the sector.

The inquiry follows an EU directive from 2004, which stipulated that many herbal remedies were to be treated as medicines. But inquiry chief Anders Lönnberg said that this should not lead to the controversial monopoly being handed control of the sale of herbal treatments.

“Plant-based medicines that are currently prescription-only should remain under Apoteket’s monopoly. But those that are prescription-free and which have been redefined as medicines should continue to be able to be sold in health-food shops,” he said.

The 15 prescription-free plant-based medicines over which Apoteket currently has a monopoly should, said Lönnberg, be able to be sold in ordinary shops. But, he proposed, shops that sell such preparations should employ a pharmacist or equivalent.

“This will benefit those serious players in the health-food sector.”

Social Minister Göran Hägglund also announced on Monday that he would soon present new directives for the inquiry into Apoteket’s future, although it was not clear exactly what the new directives would involve.