Because of the supply problems with a number of important medicines, the chemical union IG BCE is calling for the establishment of a strategic medicine reserve for Europe. "Germany was once the pharmacy of the world, we are no longer that," said the chairman Michael Vassiliadis on Monday in Hanover. You need your own emergency stocks of central pharmaceutical products. "We have to discuss this together now." It is also necessary to have multiple safeguards in the production of "active ingredients that are critical to supply", for which there has sometimes only been a single plant worldwide.
There have recently been shortages of some basic medicines such as painkillers and fever syrups for children, but also in some cases of cancer medicines. Mainly basic substances now come from India or China. Vassiliadis said an early warning system would be helpful in this "strategic field". Security of supply must be a core criterion in the future.
Demand for a flexible price system
This also means that price models can be adjusted if necessary. In this context, the IG-BCE boss spoke out in favor of a "differently organized relationship" between researching pharmaceutical companies and manufacturers of imitation drugs - the price system must be "flexible" depending on the supply situation. Original active ingredients, for which there is initially long-term patent protection, are often more expensive.
The pharmaceutical industry and also the chemical industry as a whole, as the third largest German industrial sector, need more reliable planning as to which technologies should be prioritized in the coming years. Hugely rising gas and electricity bills had put many companies under pressure, and politicians had to discuss the future of the industry at the highest level. "That's why we also expect Chancellor Scholz to meet in the future," said Vassiliadis. "It's not just about crisis management, but about the question: Where do we want to go with this industry?"
With companies like the Mainz-based corona vaccine manufacturer Biontech, Germany also has “companies that are very innovative and need good framework conditions so that they can get ahead”. In view of the international dependencies, talks on positioning the energy-intensive industry as a whole are necessary. "I believe that this should take place under the fundamental leadership of the Chancellery," said the union boss. Although the gas supply is currently stabilizing again, it is far from over the mountain.
Vassiliadis: Companies are struggling with staffing problems
In view of the US billions in subsidies, Europe must develop a new industrial policy. "We're not getting anywhere with the eternal mantra of wanting to be first in ensuring competition," Vassiliadis recently told the German Press Agency. He misses "more courage to invest in the climate-friendly transformation on a really broad basis". Now he added: "We need a roadmap and definition of how we position ourselves in the world market. We also have to think about some regulations - not just individual compromises that are unsystematic."
The following applies to the energy supply: “The topic is not over with three or four LNG terminals.” And politics must address some contradictions. "We are now discovering fracking in the United States, driving the gas halfway around the world, but we don't want fracking here." The underground storage of CO2 and the development of our own hydrogen capacities would also have to be discussed more broadly.
In addition, many companies have significant staffing problems. "We need everyone who can do something," said Vassiliadis, calling for a better work-life balance. The influx of qualified specialists as well as training and further education offers for young people often did not go well. "Employment effects will come," he said - but not necessarily in the form of direct job losses. Above all, companies without major alternative options for energy and special raw materials would have difficulties.