Factory Closures and Increasing Famines: What’s Wrong With Medicines?

Factory Closures and Increasing Famines: What’s Wrong With Medicines?

Inngenerics, the last pill factory to manufacture exclusively for the Dutch market, will close after this weekend. He underlines that the Netherlands is heavily dependent on other countries for drugs. And this is not without risk. What is the problem?

After the closure of Inngenerics, there are still twenty pharmaceutical factories in the Netherlands, three of which are still Dutch owned. There were dozens of years ago.

According to the Royal Netherlands Pharmacists Association (KNMP), drug users will not immediately realize that Inngenerics has been shut down.

“But,” says Aris Prins, head of the KNMP, “we see bottlenecks in the Netherlands. We want to focus more on production closer to home, but we see a trend going in the opposite direction. Pharmacists and doctors are looking for alternatives more often and for longer because not all medicines are so easy to get.”

Health Minister Kuipers finds this alarming: “We are also facing more and more bottlenecks in Europe and the rest of the world. Sometimes people find that they are taking a medicine in a different box, need to change boxes more often, or that a medicine is temporarily unavailable. IT.”

When a pharmaceutical company wants to launch a drug, it’s important to be on the shopping list of at least one of the four major health insurance companies (Achmea, CZ, VGZ, and Menzis). Together they control almost 90 percent of the market. “If you don’t take part in any of the four, you have no chance,” says Hans Waals, director of the Tiofarma pharmaceutical factory.

The Netherlands is among the top 3 European countries with the cheapest generics. “Of course it looks beautiful, our politicians are proud of it, too, but it has disastrous consequences,” says Jean Hermans, President of the generics association Bogin.

Move down

He calls it a down race. “What you’ve seen in the last five years is that if one of the big health insurance companies doesn’t put a drug on the shopping list – and of course the health insurance companies want the cheapest – a manufacturer eventually stops supply and stops production. It will no longer be valid.”

According to Bogin, 3,300 of the 8,000 generic drugs disappeared from the Dutch market within five years. The Netherlands is therefore becoming more and more dependent on countries such as China, India and Spain.

That’s why manufacturer Waals now sells more than half of its drugs to countries such as Great Britain, Germany and the USA: “There is no money to be made from producing generics for the Dutch market. Enough medicine is sold for 34 cents,” he said. sold per box, packaging costs 33 cents per box in the Netherlands alone.”

Hermans said, “The world has turned upside down, hasn’t it? We buy pills from India and sell them to the US,” he says.

larger stocks

There are other weak points in the system: for example, there are 37 drugs purchased from one manufacturer by the four major insurers.

“If something goes wrong with this manufacturer or a boat clogs the Suez Canal, many patients are suddenly off medication,” says Hermans. “Sometimes we run out of alternatives because factories here stopped making this drug because they ran out of buyers.”

One solution is to create larger inventories starting January 1. “This may help for now, but this is symptom relief. It should be such that it is attractive enough for the market to supply enough,” Waals says.

supply security

When asked if health insurers were also concerned about the vulnerability of the system and the role it plays in keeping drugs cheap, they cited an earlier statement.

Zilveren Kruis (part of Achmea) says it has more deals with European manufacturers like other health insurers.

Kuipers wants to talk to KNMP and health insurance companies about low prices and health insurance companies that buy all from one manufacturer. “The most important thing for me is the safety of the patient’s care.”

Source: NOS