Shortages in drug supply are difficult to predict. What if they don’t have yours?

Shortages in drug supply are difficult to predict. What if they don’t have yours?
Shortages in drug supply are difficult to predict. What if they don’t have yours?

According to the State Institute for Drug Control (SÚKL), there is no stable list of medicines that are missing from the market. What applies in the morning may not apply in the evening, let alone the next day.

“We monitor the availability of medicines every day. We communicate with suppliers, verify the situation abroad, identify risks and work with them. We are in close cooperation with the Ministry of Health, which can act on the basis of the data provided by us using the tools given to it by the legislation,” said Irena Storová, director of the pharmaceutical institute, about the current situation.

Anyone can check the availability of this or that product online – directly on the institute’s website under the Medicine Outages tab.

In practice, however, even the notification of interrupted delivery does not necessarily mean the immediate unavailability of the medicine. If there are sufficient stocks of it in pharmacies and the interruption is short-lived, the patient may not notice a problem.

Now people can find information on the SÚKL website about the already mentioned fever medicines for children, which – as Seznam Zprávy reported last week – should not arrive until the next few weeks.

What to do if there is no medicine?

The pharmaceutical institute also comes up with advice on what patients should do if they don’t have their prescription medicine in the pharmacy. First of all, the pharmacist can offer them another medication with the same medicinal substance. However, it is only possible to switch the medicine with the patient’s consent and if the doctor has not explicitly stated “do not switch” on the prescription.

Another way is individual importation – this is the possibility of using a drug that is not registered in the Czech Republic, but can be an alternative for a registered and currently unavailable drug. However, only a doctor can prescribe an unregistered product.

The third possibility is the so-called therapeutic alternative. This is the substitution of a prescribed medicine for a preparation with another medicinal substance that has similar therapeutic effects or is in a different medicinal form and strength. The pharmacist can use such a preparation again only if the patient agrees to it and everything is also approved by the doctor.

As for over-the-counter drugs, they can also be replaced in some cases and do not require a doctor’s approval.

For example, the aforementioned fever preparations for children, which do not comply with the prescription, but have been missing for many weeks and there is no alternative. It is possible to make them individually in a pharmacy, although even this option may not be without complications now.

“Compared to last week, the raw material ibuprofen for individual preparation of suppositories is no longer available directly in pharmacies, but paracetamol is still available,” Lukáš Malý, a pharmacist and chairman of the Young Pharmacists association, told Seznam Zprávy last week.

In addition, the problem of individually manufactured replacements is several times the price and short-term usability. Therefore, they are usually prepared by hospital pharmacies for local immediate consumption.

Which medicines are missing and when will they be available again?

Product name Name extension Estimated renewal date
IBALGIN BABY 20MG/ML POR SUS 100ML 3/10/2022
NUROFEN FOR CHILDREN 20MG/ML POR SUS 100ML II First half of 09/2022
NUROFEN FOR CHILDREN 20MG/ML POR SUS 200ML II Second half of 11/2022
NUROFEN FOR CHILDREN ACTIVE 100MG POR TBL DIS 12 First half of 09/2022
NUROFEN FOR CHILDREN ORANGE 40MG/ML POR SUS 100ML Second half of 09/2022
NUROFEN FOR CHILDREN STRAWBERRY 40MG/ML POR SUS 100ML Second half of 10/2022
NUROFEN FOR CHILDREN 60MG SUP 10 Half 10/2022
NUROFEN FOR CHILDREN SUPPLIERS 125 MG 125MG SUP 10 Start 09/2022

The interruption of supplies also affects some medicinal products containing the medicinal substance paracetamol intended for children. Currently, it is for example PARALEN (100MG SUP 5) and PARALEN SUS (24MG/ML POR SUS 100ML). For pediatric patients, the following medicinal products with the medicinal substance paracetamol should be available on the market: PANADOL FOR CHILDREN STRAWBERRY (24MG/ML POR SUS 100ML III), PANADOL BABY (125MG SUP 10), PANADOL JUNIOR (250MG SUP 10) and PARALEN (125MG TBL NOB 20).

Why are medicines missing?

In recent years, among the most common reasons for outages are problems related to the production and supply process. In translation, this means, for example, a lack of some raw material – a medicinal substance for the production of the given preparation, which may take some time to regenerate in the required volume.

According to SÚKL, this cause is becoming more frequent and has a more serious impact on the availability of treatment not only in the Czech Republic, but also in the world.

In the case of over-the-counter medicines, the price of which the state does not intervene in, seasonal outages can be related to, for example, households’ efforts to stock up before winter.

Other reasons for outages

  • business/marketing reasons
  • termination/cancellation/change of registration
  • delivery delay
  • increased sales
  • low amount of fixed reimbursement/maximum prices

“Regarding the amount of drugs produced, it depends on the assumption of consumption on the market and also on the current production possibilities. An obstacle in production can be a delay in the supply of the active substance or packaging materials, such as the current lack of aluminum for the production of blisters or paper for boxes at some manufacturers,” outlined the director of the Czech Association of Pharmaceutical Companies (ČAFF) Filip Vrubel.

Medicines are manufactured in hundreds of locations around the world and are usually subject to a number of strict safety and quality conditions.

Because the requirements for packaging, labeling, additional information or even the strength of each medicinal product differ from country to country, production is planned months in advance.

“Although pharmaceutical companies always produce more drugs for a given state than is needed, it is not always possible to react immediately in the event of a sudden increase in demand, stop the production line and start producing another drug,” explained David Kolář, executive director of the Association of Innovative Pharmaceutical Industry (AIFP ).

“Difficulties can also arise if suppliers cannot supply the required amount of medicinal substance or other raw materials. Therefore, pharmaceutical companies are continuously working on expanding their production capacities,” he added.

The article is in Czech

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