Medicine shortages in NL doubled this year, Minister warns

The number of reports of shortages and imminent shortages of medicines in the Netherlands increased significantly this year and is expected to double compared to last year, Minister Bruno Bruins for Medical Care said in an interview with newspaper AD.

Between January and August this year, there were 2,044 reports of impending or actual shortages. During the same period last year, there were 1,065 reports. In all of 2018 a total of 1,390 imminent or actual shortages were reported. "I expect that the deficit will double over the whole of 2019. That is likely, although I cannot say with 100 percent certainty", Bruins said to the newspaper.

As a result, affected patients often have to make do with no- or less effective medicines, sometimes for long periods. This can make their life less bearable, or even negatively impact their health. 

The cause of the shortages usually lies with production delays in distant countries like India and China, according to Bruins. The Minister therefore wants the Netherlands, along with other EU Member States, to look into producing their own raw materials for medicines.

Bruins also wants pharmaceutical companies and wholesalers in the Netherlands to build larger reserves of medicines, so that temporary deficits can more easily be compensated for.