Bad Pills

On November 1st 2009, a great and historic thing happened in Sweden.

Was it a battle? A terrorist event? A royal baby to suck our resources dry?

Well no, it was the day when aspirin and other fairly harmless pharmaceuticals were made available in normal shops.

5-aspirinYou see (gather round now children, this may take a while) before this day you were unable to buy basic pills anywhere in Sweden except in the state-run pharmacy chain Apoteket.

Have a headache? Need to buy a morning-after pill? Live in a part of town where there is one Apoteket that opens at 11 on a Saturday and not at all on Sundays?

Then tough. Until now.

So welcome Sweden, to the 20th century.

Now if we can only fix it so we can buy a bottle of wine on a Sunday, give University students exams that actually test their ability, and reward people according to their merits and accomplishments, then we might be able to drag it into the 21st.

/ paddy

24 thoughts on “Bad Pills

  1. Paddy, you simply don’t understand the mindshattering angst behind that decision. It took decades for us to take this step, and still people are afraid for the consequenses. Can we really trust the non-state shops? They need profits! Do they ensure the right competency among their staff? How do we handle the risk that they trick people into buying pills when they don’t need to? (Well, one thing we do do – it’s a rule that you can’t buy pills by your self at your ordinary general store. There has to be an attendant there at all times.)

    And you mentioned wine. (Good, so I didn’t have to do that myself. :) Swedes are a people with a history of hundreds of years boozing their heads off. The labourers got their pay in booze, fer chrissakes! We have enough of a problem as it is with alcohol. We tested allowing the citizens to buy alcohol when abroad, and taking it home with them, but they started buying so much that the opinion now is that we have to lower the legal quota drastically. If we were to allow people to buy alcohol on a Sunday, that would destroy the swedish stamina utterly!

    Still, some small things are happening. There are a few “cottage industry” producers in Sweden, fighting for their right to sell their wine at their very own cottage. The last legal idea is the suggestion to give them status as Systembolaget outlets (Systembolaget is the formerly state-owned alcohol sales monopoly) so as to find a possible way to formalize their future rights to sell.

    Anyway, why can’t people be at least a little bit street smart, and go to Systembolaget in the beginning of the week instead of queuing up for an hour Friday evening! They wouldn’t even have to wait then. After all, we do get paid monthly.

    And since you mentioned wine, I’ll mention condoms. The condom producers don’t really expect us to *use* their products, do they? Since we in Sweden have a state monopoly concerning alcohol because alcohol can hurt you, I expect in Ireland they have a state monopoly on condoms, since condoms can stop you from having children. I’m sure they would, if they were Swedes! :-)


    • Rolf, quit making replies that are 5 times as long as the blog entry, you are making me look bad!

      Allow people to only buy expensive wine on a Sunday, and clear out all the alcoholics. And hopefully the wine-selling directly from producers will happen, it’s completely daft to not allow it.

      I am waiting for the Catholic Church to release their own special condoms, stamped with a cross and with holes in it.

      • “paddyK Says:
        Rolf, quit making replies that are 5 times as long as the blog entry, you are making me look bad!”

        He he… Feeling the pressure mounting these days? That’s competition!

        Anyway, I’m far too lazy to start my own blog. Rest assured there will be the occasional comment from me in the future. And keep up the good work with your blog. It’s always entertaining to read.


  2. I’ll post you a few packets of 500 paracetemol next time I get to a Boots in the UK – we can set up an underground analgesic-selling ring!

    Anyhoo – why don’t you just buy your wine on the internet like everything else?

  3. Umh, you could try OKQ8 and other gas stations, I think they have Alvedon nowadays. (“Yay” – because I have a car, sort of. Not.) Btw, thanks for the ” link. Love it!

    • Hey, I like it plenty too, but people come here to see me complain, and that’s what I give ’em. I blame the public. And peer pressure. And the media. And Dansband – specifically Dansband.

  4. Hello!

    I would like to know what kind of run-ins you’ve had with the Swedish university system if you think the exams are too easy.


    • Pyotr: Well I did a Masters of Engineering at KTH. But I talked to many students who had done basic degrees here.

      But it’s not that they are too easy, it’s that they don’t push the students, deadlines aren’t solid, people are given too many chances. You are simply not given a chance to excel, it seems to be about getting everybody through, and lowering the standards if necessary. Which I suppose is to be expected if the state funds the universities and it’s in their interests to pass everybody.

      May I ask what experience you have of OTHER countries universities if you think the Swedish system ISN’T too easy?

  5. I simpy have experience from an very difficult education led by old professors who found it completely logical that students would easily learn 100 or more foreign words every week and be able to use them in context, and where what would be a 15-25hp exam now would be worth about 4 old credits. So of course, some courses may be easy, but it’s not fair to generalise about the Swedish university “system” (if one even exists).

    • Yes I suppose its very dependant on the teachers. Smart people very often can’t teach at all. But it sounds like your studies were much tougher than it is today. Not that tough is automatically good, but tough is a lot better than easy.

      My education was a very tough four yeas, and it felt like an army boot camp, but it was a huge burst of pride to finish it, because everybody sure as hell didn’t finish it. No doing repeat exams eight times until you eventually pass them!

  6. Then your education sounds exactly like the one I had. That was 4 years ago, so sure there are extremely difficult academic challenges out there today. The problem is that some teachers are scared of challenging “A course” students too much too soon, since it might scare them away and cut spending on that course. Sad, but true. But I wouldn’t trade my own education for the world. :)

  7. Sadly I can confirm the availability of drugs in supermarkets.
    I have just returned from a shopping expedition. First of course, to the Systembolaget to ensure survival over the weekend, and next to the supermarket for more idle fripperies such as food. Whilst forlornly searching for my brand of razor blades (not to be found in Sweden, of course) my eye was arrested by a small card stating: “Medicines are available. Please contact the staff”. Well it was obvious that the public are not to be trusted with aspirin, eye drops or topical ointments, but still I was amazed. Here in an ordinary supermarket the average Swede may now buy something to cure a hangover. (Albeit under the watchful eye of a staff member who will fetch a few tablets from the stockroom after satisfying him or herself that it will be properly and responsibly used.) It’s only obvious that this sinister trend will lead to a rapid decline in public morals. Once people know they can quickly and easily cure their headaches, what’s to stop them drinking themselves silly every weekend? Halt this trend. Aspirin should only be sold to trusted members of the public in small quantities by licensed physicians lest the very fabric of Swedish society unravel.

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