the government announces a new “road map” against stock shortages

In recent years, periods of tension in the supply of medicines essential to the daily life of the French have increased, causing concern among caregivers and patients.


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A box of amoxicillin in a pharmacy in Briançon (Hautes-Alpes), October 20, 2023. (Illustrative photo) (THIBAUT DURAND / HANS LUCAS / AFP)

Amoxicillin, anti-cancer treatments, insulin… In 2023, nearly 5,000 drugs have been reported as “out of stock” or at “risk of stock out” by the National Agency for the Safety of Medicines and Health Products (ANSM) , compared to 3,761 in 2022 and 2,160 the previous year. To combat shortages of molecules, the government presented, Wednesday February 21, a new roadmap for 2024 to 2027. List products in shortage, relocate production on French territory, better inform patients… The system aims to complete the series of measures announced by Emmanuel Macron in June 2023.

Three ministers are in charge: the Minister of Labor, Health and Solidarity Catherine Vautrin, the Minister Delegate for Industry and Energy Roland Lescure, and the Minister Delegate for Health and Prevention Frédéric Valletoux. The objective of this “new strategy” is of “guarantee the availability of medicines and ensure industrial sovereignty in the longer term”.

The government first wants “strengthen availability monitoring” of the 450 so-called drugs “essentials”listed in June by the executive, after a particularly tense winter 2022-2023. “More than 50% of the drugs on this list have been the subject of reports of rupture or risk of rupture to the ANSM during the last two years”specifies the government roadmap (PDF to download). This list must now be “updated every year”.

Relocations “announced in the coming months”

Another point discussed in June: the relocation of the production of certain molecules, for which the government promises that “new manufacturing lines must be announced by the end of April/beginning of May”. In addition, the executive also wants “avoid departures” manufacturers, by requiring them that in the event of a cessation of production of an “essential” medicine, it “will have to do everything to look for and find a buyer”. “If this is not the case, as a last resort, public production will be ensured”assures Mathilde Bouchardon, health advisor to the Minister Delegate in charge of Industry.

The first European paracetamol factory is due to open in 2025 in Toulouse (Haute-Garonne) and will help move away from dependence on Asian and American production. “What we did for paracetamol, we are going to do for amoxicillin and other essential drugs”assures Roland Lescure Parisian.

Better inform patients and doctors

Furthermore, the executive wishes “promote the proper use of medicines, including antibiotics, in order to guarantee controlled and relevant use”, according to the roadmap. In other words, communication operations to raise awareness among the general public, but also to adapt the packaging of medicines to doctors’ prescriptions, to avoid waste.

The government also wants to encourage doctors not to prescribe molecules that are out of stock, by facilitating their access to up-to-date databases of available medications. The ANSM and the High Authority for Health are also responsible, from this year, for providing equivalence lists to practitioners and pharmacists. The government also wants pharmacies to work, in at least 80% of cases, through wholesalers, to simplify the management of molecule stocks.

Finally, Catherine Vautrin, Minister of Labor, Health and Solidarity, wishes to better inform patients about the availability of molecules in pharmacies, to avoid them having to go to several pharmacies.

L’Observatoire Transparency Médicaments reacted, on the social network upon publication of the article Parisianwhich unveiled the government’s plan in preview on Wednesday. “The government’s “road map” is yet another announcement effecttackles the organism. LMinisters change, the same lightness remains”.

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