Why Europe's Drug Shortages May Get Worse
Why Europe's Drug Shortages May Get Worse

Why Europe's Drug Shortages May Get Worse

When Ignasi Biosca-Reig heard there were shortages of amoxicillin in Spain, he quickly added shifts at his drug company's factories to boost production of the popular antibiotic. But a few extra shifts was as far as he could go. (View Highlight)

Biosca-Reig said he couldn't justify investing millions of euros in new production lines unless he was paid more for the generic drug to cover sharply rising costs. (View Highlight)

While many countries around the world have reported shortages of antibiotics as respiratory infections return with a vengeance after the lifting of pandemic restrictions, the problem in Europe is particularly acute. (View Highlight)

With prices for generics regulated, many European drugmakers said they are reluctant to expand capacity at a time when the war in Ukraine has pushed up the cost of everything from energy for factories to cardboard for packaging to aluminium for bottle caps - suggesting more shortages are on the cards. (View Highlight)

"We cannot keep this capped pricing when all of our production, logistics and regulatory compliance costs are increasing at double digits or more," said Adrian van den Hoven, director general of lobby group Medicines for Europe, which represents makers of generic drugs in the region. (View Highlight)

Generic medicines now account for about 70% of all dispensed medicines in Europe, but only 29% of the money spent on drugs by national health agencies, according to Medicines for Europe. (View Highlight)

EMA chief medical officer Steffen Thirstrup told Reuters last month that it was fairly unusual to see so many countries reporting shortages of the same products, but forecast demand would ease as warmer weather approaches. (View Highlight)

Sandoz told Reuters that by adding extra shifts at its Austrian factory, it aims to increase production of amoxicillin by a double-digit percentage this year compared with 2022, and an expanded facility will also come on stream in 2024. (View Highlight)

"There is no way we can increase our capacity in order to fill the market gap," said Erick Tyssier, Teva's head of government affairs in Europe. "It's just not possible." (View Highlight)

Years of price pressures on manufacturers has forced many smaller firms to get out of the business and only a few generics makers service much of Europe for drugs such as amoxicillin. (View Highlight)