Relocation, list of “essentials”, packaging… The executive’s plan to limit drug shortages

2024-02-22 07:12:48

Relocation of production, better support for patients, prescription of alternatives… The executive presents this Wednesday its 2024-2027 roadmap against the lack of certain drugs.

Medicine shortages have worsened further in 2023, with +30.9% shortages reported, according to the National Medicines Safety Agency (ANSM). To try to stem the phenomenon, beyond the measures already taken in recent months, the government is presenting this Wednesday, February 21, its 2024-2027 roadmap against drug shortages. In The Parisian .

Better list of medications “essentials”

Amoxicillin, ciprofloxacin, paracetamol, morphine… A list of 450 drugs qualified as“essentials” had already been established by the government in June. The new executive plan plans to “strengthen monitoring of their availability”. From 2025, this list will be updated every year, assures the Minister of Labor and Health Catherine Vautrin, who recognizes that it “may have holes in the racket but also medications that shouldn’t necessarily be there”.

Continue the relocation plan

A plan to relocalize the production of these essential medicines was announced by Emmanuel Macron in June, with priority for those whose “our dependence on extra-European imports is proven”. New production lines should be announced “in the coming months”specifies the executive today. “When necessary, we can also play on the price of the drug to make its production viable on national soil”, we advance in the entourage of Minister of Industry Roland Lescure. “We must repatriate essential molecules to European territory,” insisted Philippe Besset, president of the Federation of Pharmaceutical Unions of France, speaking to franceinfo this Thursday, February 22.

The government also wants to avoid departures: industrialists will have “the obligation to look for a buyer” if they wish to stop their production in the territory, explains Roland Lescure’s office. “As a last resort, if there is no buyer, there will be a public operator” for the production of the medicinal product concerned.

Encourage doctors to offer alternatives

The new roadmap plans to give doctors access to data on drug shortages. A pilot phase with an update of the first prescription assistance software must be launched at the end of the first quarter of 2024.

These indications should further encourage doctors not to prescribe those that are lacking and instead offer alternatives. The ANSM and the High Authority for Health (HAS) will establish lists of equivalents for doctors and pharmacies.

Review the packaging of medications

Limiting shortages will also involve reducing waste, believes the executive. Catherine Vautrin says she is ready to “work on conditioning” medication. “There are a lot of medications whose packaging does not correspond to the dosage”, specifies the Director General of Health, Grégory Emery. For example, a medication which would be packaged in five tablets when it is usually prescribed for a week, at the rate of one tablet per day, would thus be packaged in boxes of seven.

The legal framework already provides for this lever, “the minister now wants us to activate it”, explains Grégory Emery. A solution which, however, requires European coordination, as the drugs are not placed on the market only in France.

Better manage shortages

When a shortage occurs despite these precautions, the executive wants it to be identified as early as possible by detecting warning signals to deal with it. This solution will be based on more precise data management and taking into account seasonality to anticipate without waiting for the report by a pharmacy.

The government also wants pharmacists to limit their orders without intermediaries and to go, in at least 80% of cases, through wholesalers, to simplify stock management. On this point, the Minister of Health promises checks.

Better support patients

The roadmap provides that patients can have easy access to information on the availability of their medicine in the event of a shortage, rather than going from pharmacy to pharmacy hoping to find it. Communication aimed at the general public on the “good use” medications – reminding us that we must avoid taking them without a prescription – will also be amplified.


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