COVID-19 Access Industrial Policy Regulatory and legal framework Falsified medicines Environment Antimicrobial resistance Medicine shortages
Generic medicines have proven to be pivotal in increasing patient access and preventing medicine shortages through increased choice and availability of treatments. However, generic medicines policies have recently focused exclusively on reducing prices thereby increasing the risk of medicine shortages.
The sustainability of healthcare budgets in Europe has been intensely pressured by multiple factors, such as a growing and ageing population, an increased disease burden, the introduction and increased cost of new innovative medicines,,. To overcome these challenges, several national authorities have adopted austerity measures and applied short-term cost-containment measures to pharmaceuticals, including to generic medicines despite their low cost (around 4% of total healthcare expenditure in Europe) and their relevance for care (62% of medicines dispensed today in Europe are generic medicines). Short-term cost-cutting measures, such as ad-hoc price cuts, external reference pricing, payback, tendering, etc. have driven the prices of some off-patent medicines to unsustainably low levels. This causes manufacturers of generic medicines to withdraw from the market, resulting in the increased risk of medicine shortages,,. The evidence now shows that many national markets across Europe are relying on too few suppliers for essential life-saving medicines in both the hospital and ambulatory sectors. Tackling medicines shortages in a multi-source context, requires an approach that addresses both the root causes of medicines shortages and mitigates medicine shortages once they occur. Addressing the economic causes of shortages to ensure market predictability and competition, improving regulatory efficiency, improving transparency in supply chain and a proper and controlled communication are important measures to tackle medicine shortages. Please find more information on Medicines for Europe key recommendations to tackle medicines shortages here and the Economist Intelligence Unit report on medicine shortages here.
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