Corona-Crisis inhibits supply from Asia
EU health ministers held a video conference on Tuesday to discuss how to ensure the European supply of medicines. The reason for this was delivery shortfalls and delays of active ingredients and preparations from Asia.
Cause for shortages often abroad
An interview with Stefan Kluge in the ARD magazine “Plusminus” shows how serious the situation is. The director of intensive care medicine at the University Medical Center Hamburg said last week: “There are already hospitals in Germany that no longer have Propofol. Without Propofol, patients cannot be put under anesthesia – it is necessary, for example, for the ventilation of Covid-19 infected patients. The shortage is not only caused by increased demand: Problems at foreign production sites or long and confusing supply chains are frequent causes.
Reduction of dependence on China and Co.
Now the EU wants to reduce its dependence on production from foreign countries. Experience from the current pandemic would show that joint political efforts to expand pharmaceutical production at national level need to be stepped up to ensure independent and crisis-proof supply to the European population. All stakeholders (public authorities, NGOs, industry, marketing authorisation holders, wholesalers, pharmacies) should be involved at national and European level to take countermeasures.
80 percent of all active ingredients from third countries
This will be a non-inconsiderable challenge: 80 percent of all active ingredients in European medicines are sourced from third countries such as India, China and Taiwan. The reason for this is often the lower patent protection in these countries, so that generics can be produced and marketed in Europe before the patents expire in the EU area. Accordingly, production has been greatly expanded, and many preliminary stages are no longer produced in Europe. These are structures that have grown globally over decades.