EU sets up new mechanisms to avoid medicine shortages

24 October 2023 - 14:00 By Julia Payne
subscribe Just R20 for the first month. Support independent journalism by subscribing to our digital news package.
Subscribe now
The EU will set up a Critical Medicines Alliance in early 2024 to develop co-ordination between the commission, industry, civil society and national authorities on a shortlist of medications. Stock photo.
The EU will set up a Critical Medicines Alliance in early 2024 to develop co-ordination between the commission, industry, civil society and national authorities on a shortlist of medications. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/loft39studio

The European Commission on Tuesday launched some short-term measures to prevent medicine shortages this winter and the next as a stop-gap while a proposed pharmaceutical rules overhaul is hashed out by the EU's key legislative arms.

After the Covid-19 pandemic and ensuing medicine shortages due to supply chain bottlenecks, the commission proposed the first major reform of its pharmaceutical regulations in April and hopes to forge a closer health union.

A key short-term move is the set up of a voluntary mechanism between member states to fill medicine gaps across the block this winter.

“The scheme allows member states to flag needs for a given medicine in critical shortage at national level to other member states, so they can indicate the availability of stock that could be redistributed,” a statement said.

Further, the commission is looking to set up a joint buying scheme for antibiotics and medicines for certain respiratory illnesses ahead of winter 2024-2025, it said.

The EU's European Medicines Agency (EMA), with member states, is also slowly narrowing down a list of critical medicines after calls from member states - including Belgium, France, Spain and Germany - to improve security of supply and come up with a Critical Medicines Act. The list will be finalised by the year-end.

Once the list is finalised, which currently has between 100-350 being debated, each will go through a vulnerability assessment to see what is required and then dialogue with the industry on how to ramp up output will start. Any measures taken on the list will be done by April next year.

Over the last decades, the EU has become heavily reliant on India and China for generic medicines.

The EU will set up a Critical Medicines Alliance in early 2024, an embryonic version of a Critical Medicines Act, to develop co-ordination between the commission, industry, civil society and national authorities on a shortlist of medications.

The EU aims to return some production to Europe, broaden its sources of key ingredients, co-ordinate stockpiling and set up some pre-reserved production capacity in case of an emergency, such as during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Reuters 


subscribe Just R20 for the first month. Support independent journalism by subscribing to our digital news package.
Subscribe now

Would you like to comment on this article?
Sign up (it's quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.