Antibiotics, antidiabetics, antirejection. These last years, shortages and stock-outs of medicines jumped: 3,700 references were missing last year, they would have increased to 4,000 this fall. “A lot of drugs like anticancer drugs, antihypertensive drugs, analgesics, antidiabetics” are missing, “we are at nearly 4,000 drugs” out of stock or at risk of stocking up, warned Thursday on France Info Pierre-Olivier Variot, president of the Union of Community Pharmacists’ Unions (USPO) and pharmacist in Plombières-lès-Dijon (Côte-d’Or).
“Winter medicines”, according to the pharmacist, cortisone and amoxicillin are missing. This antibiotic is the most prescribed in France, at all ages. “There is a big paradox,” says Pierre-Olivier Variot: the National Medicines Safety Agency tells us that there are between three and five months of stock among manufacturers. Wholesalers, who are the intermediary between wholesalers and pharmacies, do not have stock, and pharmacies have very, very variable stocks.”
France is not the only one concerned
Drug shortages began around ten years ago, when the production of active ingredients, mature drugs and generics was outsourced to China and India. They have worsened since the Covid crisis: last year we deplored seven times more than in 2017. Ordinary paracetamol to abortion pills that can’t wait, including essential treatments for chronic patients, all or almost all pathologies are concerned. Some come from it, we told it three weeks agoto barter medicines with their neighbors, or to tinker with tablets of more or less dosage than their treatment.
At the beginning of October, the ANSM activated its winter anti-shortage plan which aims to closely monitor supply curves in relation to needs. On its site, it reports on the status of stocks to allow doctors to prescribe available products: “red” are products whose stocks can last less than 15 days, “orange” those whose availability is short. from 15 days to a month, and “green” the best supplied stocks. Three adrenaline auto-injectors out of six were thus, Thursday, in the red.
France is not the only one concerned and, on Tuesday, the European Commission proposed to Member States ways to get through this winter better, in particular a mechanism for sharing medicines between better-endowed countries and countries in need. The European Commissioner for Health, Stella Kyriakides, has committed to publishing by the end of the year the long-awaited list of medicines for which Europe will prioritize securing the supply. Patients and doctors are feverishly awaiting the concrete implementation of these measures.