Shortages of medicines: The Priority of SfEE is securing Public Health

Athens, January 2, 2023.- Regarding the issue of drug shortages and following a meeting of all the involved parties in the Ministry for Health, the Hellenic Association of Pharmaceutical Companies (SfEE) clarifies the following:

No shortages are registered in the Hospitals or EOPYY pharmacies, with very few exceptions. The problem of shortages is registered in private pharmacies and regards mainly medicines with active substance such as paracetamol, amoxicillin and some inhaled pulmonary drugs.

Such kind of shortages are registered at global scale and are to be attributed to the lack of raw and packaging materials, in combination with the soaring increase of demand due to the steep seasonal increase of infections, particularly intense this year.

This problem is expected to be corrected gradually over the next months and, meanwhile, it is suggested to use other substitute medicines broadly available, always under the guidance of the attending physician or pharmacist. Consumers should also refrain from creating stocks, because this exacerbates problems and deprives our co-citizens in need of necessary medication.

Furthermore, improvement signs are already detected, through the implementation of an export ban for approximately 260 medicines, and it is expected that this will be enhanced in the immediate future. It should not be ignored that this event of parallel exports (i.e. the re-export of the imported drugs in our country to other EU countries, effected by circles of the drugs logistics chain because of prices disparities and not by the pharma companies themselves) is due to the fact that in our country the medicines retail price is the lowest in Europe.

In today’s meeting with the Minister for Health it was also mentioned that more than 1300 drugs are marketed – regardless of the legislation in force – below the lowest price in the Eurozone, leading to great problems in their marketing; if they are to be withdrawn they will be substituted by other, far more expensive. The intention was expressed, to have this issue reexamined, so as to maintain these medicines in the Greek market through targeted financial support. It was also stressed that there is a need for targeted moves which might support the production of the necessary established medicines by the Hellenic Pharmaceutical Industry, thus avoiding the costly imports through the IFET (Institute for Pharmaceutical Research & Technology) and improving, in tandem, the position of our domestic industry in the European market.

The European pharmaceutical industry, having acknowledged the importance of repatriating the production of medicines as well as raw materials back to Europe, has focused on reducing its dependence on India and China and is taking the necessary steps towards that goal, a strategy that obviously entails time and investments in Europe and Greece.

It must become common knowledge that the problems of medicines’ availability appearing in our country are far smaller than those in the other EU countries. SfEE and its member companies – both multinational and Greek ones – make constant and continuous efforts, so as to secure the access of Greek patients to the necessary therapies, since safeguarding Public Health constitutes their highest priority.

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