Antibiotics, anticonvulsants for children with epilepsy, paracetamol, penicillin, drugs for streptococcal infections – every day new ones are added to the list of drugs, the supply of which is difficult. According to the list of the Federal Office for Medicines and Medical Devices, for example, it was eleven o’clock the day before yesterday, noon yesterday, while it was two today…
In total, there are currently 13 active ingredients which are quite unevenly represented throughout Germany. The most common cause: production problems. Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) wants to change this situation.
For this reason, the federal cabinet has passed a bill to ensure greater security in the supply of drugs. In this regard, Minister Lauterbach expects an improvement in the supply of medicines for children. He doesn’t want the situation to happen again this winter, when the drugs weren’t available in Germany, but they were in the Netherlands. Lauterbach believes that “the savings made on the supply of drugs were not wise”. Now the question must be approached “with a sense of proportion”.
What does the bill provide?l
For medicines for children, fixed and discounted contracts should be abolished. Pharmaceutical companies can increase sales prices once by 50% of the last valid fixed amount. After that, the price increase will be compensated by the health insurance funds. According to Lauterbach, this should make the production of children’s medicines more attractive to pharmaceutical companies.
In the case of antibiotics, not only the cheapest suppliers, but also European manufacturers should have a chance. This approach will avoid the influx of drugs from China or India. “It could be a leap forward,” hopes Lauterbach. “If everything works out well for antibiotics, we will expand the range.” In the case of inventory, pharmacies should be able to share information more quickly.
An early warning system should prevent impending bottlenecks by demanding more information from drug manufacturers. Hospitals must increase their capacity to obtain the drugs needed for intensive care. Large drug stocks must be reserved for three months.
More money will be useless
The Spitzenverband der Gesetzlichen Krankenkassen is skeptical of Lauterbach’s plans. Florian Lanz, spokesman for the Association of Compulsory Health Insurers, told ZDF the long-standing problem that the pharmaceutical industry is not meeting its supply obligations because it needs more money to redress the situation.
“We consider this way of solving the problem to be wrong,” said Florian Lanz. According to him, this will only increase health insurance premiums, without improving the quality of care one iota. Instead, there should be transparency from the early stages of supply issues and ensuring that all essential medicines are stocked. In addition, the whole market must be organized in such a way that the world supply does not depend on a single place of production.
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