Personal Health

Pharmacists are sounding the Alarm: more and more frequently, there are shortages of important drugs

Pharmacists warn of growing supply problems with popular medicines. “Supply bottlenecks in the case of thyroid drugs, drugs for gout, or pain relievers such as Ibuprofen are a constant Nuisance,” says Mathias Arnold, Vice-President of the pharmacists Association, ABDA. The recall of the blood pressure-lowering drug Valsartan, after a contamination led 2018 to a shortage in the pharmacies and normalise slowly at first. “The shortages have increased in recent years.”

While many of the scarce drugs allow other drugs to replace, but this does not remain without consequences, warns Arnold. “It’s not the medium, on which the patients are recruited and not necessarily the one tolerated the best.”

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Hormones in thyroid medications, for example, would be administered in Mini-doses. “If company B presses the pills differently, that makes a difference.” Patients would then be your doctor for a different set. Also in the case of pharmacists, cost bottlenecks, delivery time: Help a larger pack, or twice as strong tablets, the need to share the Patient? Need to change the doctor the recipe? That is a drain on the nerves. For nine out of ten self-employed pharmacists, delivery bottlenecks are one of the biggest Annoyances in everyday life, the ABDA.

According to the Association of pharmacists, the number of not available discount drugs has almost doubled: 4.7 million packs of 2017, to 9.3 million last year. Each 50. this medium was affected by supply shortages – that is, more than two weeks are not available or are significantly more in demand than offered. Under a discount drug refers to drugs, for health insurance discounts negotiated with pharmaceutical companies out. A doctor a Drug for which a rebate contract with the pharmaceutical manufacturer has been closed, hand the pharmacist exactly this preparation to the Insured.

Reasons for supply shortages in pharmacies

Reasons for the supply shortages are many. Cost pressure in the global healthcare system. Many pharmaceutical companies according to ABDA, the active substances in the far East manufacture – for instance, antibiotics in China and India. There, the production is concentrated in a few establishments, such as the Federal Association of the Pharmaceutical industry (BPI) are explained. The result Is still the production temporarily, or due to impurities Product-recalls, problems in the supply chain.

“No manufacturer shall keep aware of the drug almost, or only, delivery to be incapable,” says the BPI. Any shortage of supply, a loss of confidence and image is damage, what will lead to sales declines.

Drugs on a large scale are now in short supply? Threaten patients with serious health hazards? The Federal Institute for drugs and medical devices sees no reason to sound the Alarm. The authority currently has just under 290 messages about shortages of drugs detected in approximately 103,000 authorised medicinal products in Germany.

Although there is “a steady increase in the shortage of supply messages,” said the Institute. The Numbers, however, is not to compare with previous years because the data had a change of basis. In addition, there is no duty to supply shortages in medicines to report, however, a Trend towards more voluntary information. Anyway is a bottleneck in delivery is no shortage of supply. Judging by all the reports of supply bottlenecks would be “relatively rare.”

Should active ingredients are increasingly produced in Europe?

The pharmacist require political solutions, such as more incentives for increased drug production in Europe. They also criticize the discount contracts between health insurance funds and manufacturers. Pharmacies are limited depending on the cashier of the patients only one drug in certain drug companies to to submit. “When it comes to problems at a manufacturer, there are hardly any Alternatives available,” says Arnold. The proposal of the pharmacies: The discount agreements should be made for safety’s sake, on a broader Basis with a number of pharmaceutical manufacturers.

The health insurance companies see it differently. Rebate contracts are for “efficiency reserves” in the health system is still essential, says the Shi head Association, the Lobby of the statutory health and nursing care insurance funds. Alone 2018 discount contracts would have reduced the product expenditures of the funds of 4.5 billion euros. Also, pharmaceutical manufacturers could plan better. The role of discount contracts, with delivery bottlenecks will be overestimated. “The German pharmaceutical business is a lot too small.” Manufacturer’s acting global.

ABDA-Vice-President Arnold looks to be a medium: A ban on the export of essential medicines, in which scarcity prevails. Often drugs from Germany were sold to the UK or Sweden, where the product prices are higher. “The Problem is that the drug prices are regulated, but the trade is free.”

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