European Commission launches alliance for critical medicines

The European Commission is looking for companies, governments and organisations to join a new alliance on critical medicines. The alliance, which was announced in October, aims to tackle the shortage of critical medicines in Europe.

Last year, several European member states faced shortages of antibiotics, painkillers and other medicines. Belgian Health minister Frank Vandenbroucke has been at the forefront of calls for more European cooperation and coordination on the issue. As a result, the European Commission launched an action plan to prevent and reduce shortages of medicines considered essential for healthcare.

One of the plan's priorities is now being fleshed out, with the Commission launching a call for participation in the critical medicines alliance. It is open to companies, EU member states, local and regional authorities and civil society, as well as health professionals, patient organisations and social partners. The aim is for the alliance to become the "industrial arm" of the European Health Union, providing recommendations and advice on impending drug shortages.

Among other things, it will look at diversifying supply chains and increasing production capacity for medicines and their ingredients.

Strategic autonomy

The alliance will start work next spring and will run for five years. The first recommendations should be published by autumn. It will build on the list of European critical raw materials adopted by the European Medicines Agency in December.

Other recent EU legislation, on critical raw materials for several industries, was agreed in November by the Parliament and member states. This initiative aimed to reduce the EU's dependence on third countries for extraction, processing and recycling critical raw materials. The medicine alliance thus appears to be in line with efforts to reduce Europe's dependence on third countries in a number of areas.


European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen © PHOTO STEPHANIE LECOCQ / POOL / AFP

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Scarcity of medicines on the Belgian market becomes more acute
Belgium's number of drugs in short supply is even higher than previously thought. This was reported in Het Nieuwsblad, De Standaard and Het Belang van Limburg on Tuesday. According to Farmastatus, an initiative of the Federal Medicines Agency, there are 380 medicines in short supply, but Febelco, the main distributor-wholesaler in Belgium, puts the figure at 1,239.

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