The EU needs to address the shortage of antibiotics

Since October, there has been a shortage of antibiotics in Europe, including amoxicillin, which is used to treat ear and chest infections in children.

European patient and Consumer groups have written to the European Medicines Agency, EMA, urging the Union’s medicines regulator to do more to tackle antibiotic shortages, it reports Reuterswho reviewed the letter.

The availability of other medicines has decreased

In the letter, the organizations write that measures such as replacing amoxicillin with other antibiotics have meant that the availability of other medicines has decreased and that the measures taken have not dealt with the crisis.

After two years of covid restrictions, respiratory infections have now returned and increased the demand for certain medicines.

Concerns about long-term shortages in the EU

When demand fell during the pandemic, pharmaceutical manufacturers reduced their production and the letter highlights a concern about a long-term shortage in the EU.

“The main root cause announced by producers is insufficient production capacity to meet increased demand,” the letter says, Reuters writes.

The letter has been signed by 11 organisations, including the European Public Health Alliance, EPHA, and the European Consumer Organisation, BEUC.

Should be seen as “major event”

The EMA is asked to declare the current shortage of antibiotics as a “major event”, i.e. something that could pose a serious risk to public health in connection with medicines in more than one EU country.

If the EMA does so, it would mean that measures could be coordinated to address the shortfall at a pan-European level, as well as increase the reporting obligation of pharmaceutical manufacturers.

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Monitoring the situation

On January 13, the EMA’s chief physician told Steffen Thirstrup told Reuters that the EMA was monitoring the situation but that he did not believe it should be classified as a major event.

The EMA and the European Commission said last week in a joint statement that, in order to increase production capacity, they have been monitoring the situation and cooperating with actors in the pharmaceutical supply chain.

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