Little done about NL medicine shortages this year: report
This year, little to nothing was done to solve medicine shortages in the Netherlands. Last year the Ministry of Public Health promised that the country will build up enough stock to last five months by the summer of 2022. But nothing came of this in 2020 because it is not clear who has to pay for the stock and the coronavirus crisis led to less attention to shortages, NRC reported after speaking to those involved.
The Netherlands has been facing shortages of certain medicines for years. Last year some 1,500 medicines were temporarily unavailable, almost double the number of a year earlier, according to figures from pharmacists' trade association KNMP.
Then Health Care Minister Bruno Bruins decided to build up five months' worth of medicines stocks by July 2022. According to the Ministry, this amount would solve 85 percent of "short-term shortages". Four months worth of stock must be kept by the pharmaceutical companies, and one month's worth by wholesalers, the Ministry decided.
The additional stocks will cost about 100 million euros per year. According to the Ministry, half of these costs must be covered by pharmaceuticals and wholesalers. The rest will be covered by higher healthcare expenditure.
But some pharmaceutical companies and wholesalers believe that the government or health insurers should fully cover the extra costs. As there is still disagreement about this, no extra stocks were bought on this year, according to the newspaper.
And in the meantime, the medicine shortages are still just as serious as last year, Aris Prins of the KNMP said to NRC. According to the association, pharmacies spend an average of 17.5 hours a week trying to find medicines. "They have to keep looking for medicines that the wholesaler cannot supply. This is often solved from other pharmacists or by getting medicines from neighbouring countries. But sometimes it is just impossible."
The Ministry of Public Health told the newspaper in response that stockpiling has not yet begun. But due to ongoing talks, the Ministry would not say what caused the delay.