Drugmakers are facing stricter rules to ensure a continuous supply of European Union medicine supplies.
Drugmakers face much stricter rules to ensure the supply of medicines in the European Union, EU officials said on Tuesday, October 12, as the bloc tries to reduce its imports and reliance on pharmaceutical products from China and other foreign “autocracies”.
Drugmakers are already required to ensure minimum supplies of medicines, however, the obligations vary greatly among EU states and many ministers think they are not strict enough.
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, the EU encountered protracted problems in obtaining a wide range of medicines and their ingredients from India and China, as supplies tightened amid lockdowns and export restrictions.
“We need to update our legislation to address shortages in areas like harmonised reporting, a stronger obligation of supply and greater transparency in the supply chain,” EU health commissioner Stella Kyriakides told a meeting of EU health ministers in Slovenia.
The planned rules change is also aimed at reducing the EU’s reliance drugs produced abroad. The European Commission estimates that two-thirds of the global supply is concentrated in India and China.
“The crisis has shown that we are too dependent on China and on other third countries when it comes to pharmaceutical products. Just imagine a world when vaccines only had been developed in China or Russia, and Western democracies and the European Union would be dependent on these autocracies for a vaccine. It would not be a good world,” said Germany’s health minister Jens Spahn.
The urgency for change however must be combined with a careful assessment of how the industry works, EU officials said. The Commission plans to make legislative proposals only in December 2022, according to its draft working programme seen by Reuters and due for publication in the coming days.
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