In recent months, the shortages of some medicines – particularly antibiotics – have been causing problems for EU countries. In particular, demand for amoxicillin, which is commonly used to treat bacterial infections, has soared this winter, leading to shortages in some areas.
This has partly been due to a surge in respiratory viruses, winter flu, and other illnesses like Strep A, combined with continuing COVID-19 infections during the winter months.
Over the last few months, there have also been some shortages of other medicines, especially those designed for cold and flu symptoms. Pharmacies have run low on paracetamol and ibuprofen products, with children’s medicines being particularly scarce.
Despite the market stabilizing, supply chains are still being stretched. As activities go back to normal after years of lockdown and strict measures like face masks, this could continue.
At a European Parliament environment and health committee the head of the Commission’s health services, Sandra Gallina, said that the situation is“very distressing not to find the medicine that he or she is expecting to find”.
She added that although there are some shortages, the EMA is currently taking steps to improve the situation, like offering more regulatory flexibility. This means member states would be able to replace some drugs that are in short supply.
In a statement, the EMA said that the current medicine shortages continue to be a public health concern and this situation is being worsened by geopolitical issues like the war in Ukraine, high rates of inflation, and the energy crisis.
In addition to this, the agency noted that higher rates of respiratory infections this winter mean that some medicines haven’t been available, especially those aimed at children. This is linked to COVID-19 lockdowns, as most young children haven’t socialized as normal in the last three years and have had reduced contact with others.
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