Netherlands lagging behind in purchase of coronavirus pill
The Netherlands is falling far behind in purchasing the coronavirus pill Paxlovid. Most Western European countries are already prescribing the medicine to high-risk people, but the Netherlands is still negotiating the price with pharmaceutical Pfizer, BNR reports.
The medicine can prevent people with an increased risk of hospitalization from becoming severely ill from the coronavirus. With autumn and another expected wave of coronavirus infections coming, it is incomprehensible that the Netherlands is dragging its feed on getting the medicine, experts said to the broadcaster.
“I could not come up with any argument why the Netherlands is so slow,” Nicole Hunfeld, vice-chairman of pharmacists’ organization KNMP, said to BNR. “We lag behind other countries because the Netherlands just can’t commit. Negotiations have been going on for months.” And that while the medicine can give people in high-risk groups - like people who have undergone an organ transplant - some breathing room, she said.
Koos Dijkstra, a clinical pharmacologist at the UMC Amsterdam, also wishes Paxlovid was already available in the Netherlands. “If the EMA approves it, you can order and administer it. Then it usually only depends on the economic side. The Netherlands is always the frontrunner in Europe in negotiating the lowest price, but that also means you have to wait longer for the drug. Or it may not become available at all. I would prefer to use this medicine tomorrow for the patients who will benefit the most from it.”
The EMA approved Paxlovid in January. Since then, several European and other countries have purchased the pill from Pfizer. Belgium, France, Spain, Austria, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, and Israel are all already prescribing the medicine, Pfizer said to BNR.
“With a feared new revival of the coronavirus in the autumn, early medication could become even more relevant,” virologist Ab Osterhaus said. He thinks the government lacks urgency due to the currently low number of Covid-19 hospitalization. “It may be that more people, especially in the already known risk groups, will become more seriously ill again. Moreover, we do not yet know whether the vaccines available will be able to protect them sufficiently.”
According to JA21 parliamentarian Nicki Pouw-Verweij, this fits the Ministry of Health’s pattern for this pandemic. “Each time feeling the urgency just too late, so that the effects can no longer be inhibited, and then acting like very drastic measures were inevitable.”