“Shortage of Oral Opioids, including Morphine, in Switzerland: Confederation Authorizes Fractional Delivery”

2023-05-09 19:06:47

Oral opioids, in particular morphine preparations, are not available in sufficient quantities in Switzerland. Faced with supply difficulties, the Confederation has decided to authorize the delivery of morphine in fractional quantities for a limited period.

The already difficult situation with regard to the supply of medicines has become tense in Switzerland. Considered a last resort in case of unbearable pain, morphine is on the list of drugs affected by this shortage.

For several weeks, the drug has been so scarce that a box can be opened and shared between several patients. A practice normally prohibited: for reasons related to the safety of therapeutic products, drugs can in principle only be delivered in their original packaging.

Faced with supply difficulties, the Confederation has decided to authorize the delivery of morphine in fractional quantities for a limited period. Eight other drugs, including common antibiotics, are also affected.

>> Read also: Medicines distributed in dribs and drabs to limit the shortage

Adapt to scarcity

In Lausanne, the Vaudois University Hospital is trying to adapt to the shortage. Nearly 150 drugs out of the 2,500 in stock are missing. “The situation is extremely tense. Some of the medicines we obtain are taken from the compulsory reserve stocks requested by the Confederation… We are never sure what will happen the next day”, explains Pierre Voirol, chief pharmacist. at CHUV.

The shortage of morphine is particularly felt in palliative care, where the drug is essential to the quality of life of patients. “Changes in the concentrations of certain drugs force caregivers to be very attentive to the preparation of doses… Especially since morphine remains a powerful opioid”, explains Sophie Pautex, head of the palliative care department at the CHUV. “We must also ensure that patients who return home have the right to the same treatments as those provided by the hospital,” she adds.

Several factors

For about two years, the supply of opioids in Switzerland has been affected by recurrent and massive disruptions. According to the Confederation, the situation is due in particular to capacity problems in the manufacture of these complex drugs, which act by releasing the active ingredient over a prolonged period (delayed-acting drugs).

Another problem is Switzerland’s dependence on the manufacture of these active substances, which are often produced in China, India and the United States. Drug shortages are largely related to the fact that their delivery is affected by disruptions.

>> See the interview with pharmacist Martine Ruggli Ducrot in the 7:30 p.m.:

Martine Ruggli-Ducrot, president of pharmaSuisse, deciphers the supply difficulties on the drug market / 7:30 p.m. / 2 min. / yesterday at 7:30 p.m.

Subject TV: Virginie Langerock
Adaptation web: saje

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