Drug shortages reach record levels, with more than 1,500 famines last year

Drug shortages reach record levels, with more than 1,500 famines last year

Pharmacy organization KNMP recorded a shortage of 1,514 drugs last year, mainly due to problems in the manufacture and distribution of drugs. According to the trade association, it has never been more frequent that a drug has been unavailable in the Netherlands for more than two weeks. Among other things, tablets for ADHD and medications for gout attacks were missing.

According to the KNMP, bottlenecks can be compensated in almost three quarters of cases by using drugs with the same active ingredient. More than half of the bottlenecks were resolved within ten weeks.

KNMP chief Aris Prins nonetheless speaks of an alarming increase in drug shortages. In 2021, there were still 1007 types of drugs that were not enough. In 2019 and 2020, shortages were greater: about 1,500 types of medicines were missing at that time. In previous years, the famine was much smaller in absolute terms, although the famine increased slightly each year.

Since January 1, drug dealers and wholesalers have had to set up a so-called “iron warehouse” that can overcome any bottleneck for at least six weeks. According to Prins, this is promising, provided everyone adheres to the new measure. “This is absolutely necessary because patients, pharmacists and other healthcare providers face an extraordinary number of problems every day.”

Since the “Iron Stock Rule” has just come into effect, it will not be actively followed this year. The Department of Health and Youth (IGJ), responsible for implementation, sees 2023 as a transition year in this respect.

vulnerable system

The question is also whether compulsory care can solve the drug shortage. Hans Waals, director of Dutch pharmaceutical company Tiofarma, spoke to NOS earlier today about “symptom control.”

According to him, the measure cannot eliminate weak points in the health system, such as the Netherlands becoming increasingly dependent on foreign drugs for medicines. Decades ago there were dozens of pharmaceutical factories in the Netherlands, today there are only about twenty.

None of these factories produce exclusively for the Dutch market. After this weekend, Innogenetics, the last pharmaceutical factory in the Netherlands, will close its doors. The company recently went bankrupt.

European approach

The Ministry of Health told the ANP news agency it was important to develop a European approach to medicine shortages. “Famine is a global problem and can really only be addressed at the international level,” a spokesperson said.

Source: NOS