Critical Medicines Alliance aims for more production and medicine availability in Europe

Belgium's initiative, the Critical Medical Alliance, will launch on Wednesday. This European alliance, made up of the pharmaceutical sector, the health sector and governments, will develop concrete proposals over the next five years to ensure the production of basic medicines in Europe, including establishing a secure supply of raw materials and medicines.

European countries often suffer from a shortage of medicines, resulting in people occasionally having to drive long distances to obtain the medicine they need. "There are pharmacists who spend up to 10 hours a week just searching for certain medications or doctors who become frustrated because the medicine they want to prescribe is just not available," said the minister of health Frank Vandenbroucke (Vooruit) to De Ochtend on Radio 1.

The production of medicines, particularly the cheaper generic variants, has shifted significantly to countries such as China and India in the last 20 years. "A quarter of generic medicines have already disappeared from the European market because they are no longer profitable or because we are experiencing production problems in Europe," says Vandenbroucke. He states that Europe needs to regain its capacity to produce its own medicines.

EU cooperation

Vandenbroucke is primarily thinking of targeted support for companies that want to produce in Belgium in addition to different types of medicine financing. "Look at antibiotics: you should not use them too much. But some antibiotics must be ready as soon as you need them. For that, you need a different type of financing, almost like a subscription to a streaming service," he says.

Belgium has brought together 23 Member States for this endeavour. As a first step, a solidarity mechanism has been set up, as was announced last year. This means that if there is a shortage of a certain medicine in one country, but another country still has a surplus, the first country will be helped quickly.

Vandenbroucke does not put a strict time constraint on this effort, saying, "Getting European production off the ground again will take several years. But we have to start now."


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