a new list of critical products to anticipate shortages

a new list of critical products to anticipate shortages

2023-05-20 11:38:47

Antibiotics, paracetamol, antiepileptics, corticosteroids… In France, drug shortages persist. In 2022, the National Medicines Safety Agency (ANSM) received more than 3,700 reports of risks of stock shortages, compared to 2,160 in 2021. The causes are multiple. The war in Ukraine and the rise in energy prices have had an impact on the production of additives and the packaging of medicines. While the triple epidemic of influenza, Covid-19 and bronchiolitis has aggravated the situation this winter, François Braun announced last February the creation of a “critical drug list” before the end of May.

Tuesday, May 16, before the deputies, the Minister of Health declared to have “had an initial list of 281 drugs”. This list “will be further adjusted because there is (…) duplicates », he added. The list contains, among other things, insulin, various anti-inflammatories, amoxicillin, paracetamol and the antiepileptic Sabril. In 2016, a list of 6,000 medicinal products of major therapeutic interest (MITM) has already been subject to legal measures to protect stocks.

A smaller list to “strengthen efforts”

What are the challenges of the new list under construction? “The list of 6,000 drugs that exists is very long, our means being what they are, a new list of drugs will allow us to tighten our efforts to avoid shortages”, explains the Ministry of Health. With a smaller list of 280 drugs, the public authorities hope to be able to set up more detailed monitoring of the products on it to anticipate shortages because “France is too much of a reaction”estimates the entourage of François Braun.

The General Health Organization and the learned societies of physicians have come together to define these essential drugs. Once the list is established, a ” risk mapping ” will be carried out for the various pharmaceutical products. “For example, we will be able to identify the places where there is a particularly bad use of antibiotics”, says the Ministry of Health. Depending on the risks, the objective will be to provide an appropriate response. “For example, we will have to ask ourselves if the best way to secure the existence of drugs is to build a factory in France or to multiply the sources of production”, specifies the Ministry of Health, while affirming that the latter solution is often the best.

Multiply sources of supply

For several weeks, pharmacies have been struggling to obtain supplies of abortion pills. Various organizations such as Family Planning and the Observatory of Transparency in Medicines Policies (OTMEDS) have alerted to the situation. “We produce it in France, but there was a problem with a producer which caused tensions. In this specific case, the path could be to multiply our number of producers in the territory to secure stocks”considers the entourage of François Braun.

At the beginning of May, Leem, the French pharmaceutical industry lobby, stated that it was committed to « give more visibility on the state of the availability of medicines to all actors in the pharmaceutical chain, with the aim of better regulating stocks and optimizing information messages intended for the various actors”. The lobby has also reaffirmed its plan to launch a shortages observatory, promising to publish the first data in June.

The European Union plans its list

In addition to the national policy, the Minister of Health François Braun also calls for a European policy. In an open letter addressed to their respective health ministers, pediatricians from different European countries, including Germany and France, warned last week about the shortage of medicines for children, a situation that puts their health « a danger ». The European Union then plans to draw up a list of essential medicines, which could constitute a basis for obliging laboratories to build up stocks.

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