Twenty deaths involving prescription drugs are under investigation by police in the capital area, RÚV reports. Detective Chief Superintendent Karl Steinar Valsson says that drug dealers are increasingly turning toward selling prescription drugs, not least because the penalties for selling them are far less severe than for selling illegal narcotics.
Opioids, and young people’s abuse of these drugs, have been a topic of much discussion of late, particularly as opioid use has increased in the last six months.
“This year, we have around 20 deaths investigations here in the capital,” said Karl Steinar. “In some instances, these are cases of suicide, in other cases not—or at any rate, the investigations haven’t shown that.”
The deaths have involved a wide variety of drugs and in some cases, a mixture of prescription drugs and illegal narcotics. Karl Steinar says that the landscape is changing.
“The people who have been selling narcotics have also been shifting over to selling prescription medications that they procure in a variety of ways. And maybe only because the market has in some way opened up to this—it’s both that the availability of prescriptions has increased and that users are prepared to buy these drugs. It seems like it must be very profitable, because otherwise, people wouldn’t do it. And then, of course, the sales model for this is naturally always shifting more and more to the internet.”
There is also the fact that penalties for selling prescription drugs are far less severe than those for selling illegal narcotics. “...That’s of course one reason that people involved in these kinds of illegal activities—often organized crime operations—look to this. Because the punishments are much lighter.”
It’s also clear that some people who are written prescriptions by their doctors are selling those medications on the black market. Karl Steinar says that this is on the increase in Iceland and is something that requires urgent attention.