Drug shortages: “When there is a link that breaks, the whole chain stops”, warns the UFC-What to choose

Drug shortages: “When there is a link that breaks, the whole chain stops”, warns the UFC-What to choose

The association denounces the pharmaceutical industry which only guarantees the supply of expensive products. “When it wants to avoid shortages, when it wants a supply chain that holds up to the shock in the event of variation in demand”, the pharmaceutical industry “knows how to do it”, assures the UFC-Que Choisir which calls for the compulsory constitution of stocks.

The shortage of drugs is increasing in France (photo illustration).  (ADÈLE BOSSARD / RADIOFRANCE)

L’UFC-What to choose alert Monday, November 9 in a press release on the issue of the drug shortage in France and more widely in Europe, “In a context where the health crisis has cruelly highlighted the flaws in our health system concerning the supply of health products”.

Unrelated to the global Covid-19 pandemic, the number of tensions and ruptures reported by the drug agency has tripled since 2016, and the figures for 2020 are expected to greatly exceed those of 2019. The Consumers Association explained that he wanted to take advantage of the consideration of the Social Security Financing Bill in the Senate to call on the public authorities to raise their voice.

The shortage mainly affects “old” drugs which no longer bring in anything but save lives.

L’UFC-What to choose identified “405 drug shortages” in France in 2016, against “1,200 last year”, and anticipates around 2,400 reports in 2020. “This situation is all the more alarming as these drugs declared in shortage by the laboratories all share one essential characteristic: they are drugs of major therapeutic interest, for which an interruption of treatment may be likely to jeopardize the risk. vital prognosis of patients ”, can we read in the press release. These are, for example, antibiotics, anti-cancer drugs, anti-Parkinson’s or anti-epileptics. These are generally drugs that are more than 20 years old, manufactured just in time and, for the most part in the chain, abroad, and which are inexpensive.

“When it wants to avoid shortages, when it wants a supply chain that holds up when demand fluctuates”, Pharmaceutical industry “Knows how to do”, explained to France Inter Mathieu Escot, director of studies at theUFC-What to choose. “It shows for all drugs sold at high prices, especially recent drugs”.

Lack of political will

The association regrets that the public authorities are not proactive enough vis-à-vis the industry to prevent these tensions, and calls for the obligation for manufacturers to build up reserve stocks of several months for the most sensitive drugs. .

“You have a fairly long chain, with fairly weak links, developed Mathieu Escot. When there is a link that breaks, the whole chain stops. The order of pharmacists tells us that the breaks in pharmacies were, for the most part, more than eight months ”. On the occasion of the debate on the social security budget which opens Monday in the Senate, theUFC supports an amendment on the compulsory constitution of these stocks, already defended and voted on last year but remained a dead letter to this day.