There is a drug problem - from fever juice to cancer drugs. According to the German Association of Pharmacists, medicines are becoming more and more unavailable in Germany. "More than 250 agents are currently reported as not being available for delivery," said the association's vice-chairman, Hans-Peter Hubmann, of the German Press Agency before World Patient Safety Day, which is celebrated on Saturday. "The problem is very important, you have to say that clearly."
"There are always delivery bottlenecks because a producer fails, but the amount and length of the failure has become much more dramatic," said Hubmann. Five years ago, less than half as many products were affected. There are problems not only with niche products, but also common remedies for high blood pressure and diabetes or painkillers such as ibuprofen were not available at times.
According to Hubmann, the causes are varied, but two stand out: "On the one hand, there is the reduction in production diversity in Europe." Almost all suppliers stopped producing fever juice because the production was no longer economical due to the fixed prices and the pressure from the tills. "Now there's another one, and he can't shoulder the crowd."
"The other cause is supply chain breaks," said Hubmann. The active ingredients are now mainly manufactured in the Far East, especially in China and India. If factories are closed there because of Corona or freighters are no longer allowed to call at the ports, even those finished medicines that are manufactured in Europe will ultimately be missing from the shelves of local pharmacies. Sometimes supplies could also not be used due to contamination.
"That's why we've been demanding for a long time that the active ingredient production must take place in Europe again," emphasized Hubmann. Politicians urgently need to create the conditions for this. But even if approval procedures were to go through more quickly, the cost pressure would be reduced and production in Europe would become more profitable again - "that won't happen overnight". Hubmann said it would take at least five to ten years for the appropriate structures to be set up.