Can Europe avoid antibiotic shortage next winter?
European countries experienced significant shortages of medicines as seasonal illnesses spread across the continent. Now authorities at EU level are working to avoid a repeat of the problem, particularly for antibiotics.
The European Medicine Agency’s Executive Steering Group on Shortages and Safety of Medicinal Products (MSSG) has been monitoring the situation closely, as stocks of such as amoxicillin ran low in hospitals and pharmacists.
The MSSG has encouraged EU Member States to show flexibility to allow the distribution of medicines that may not be authorised in their countries. In addition, EU regulators have met with the main parties involved in the supply chain of amoxicillin to provide regulatory support to increase production capacity.
At a meeting in March, the MSSG outlined plans to step up cooperation with the European Commission’s Health Emergencies and Preparedness Response Authority (DG HERA), and to liaise with key manufacturers capacity and demand forecasting for critical antibiotics. In addition, the EMA hosted a workshop with the Head of Medicines Agencies at which more than 300 participants debated medicines shortages.
The Agency, which has stronger powers than in the past, has extended its capacity to ensure the continued supply of key medicines for EU healthcare systems. The EMA has also been granted additional responsibilities to monitor and mitigate shortages of critical medical devices during public health emergencies.