The European Union must impose compulsory stockpiling of medicines on pharmaceutical companies as patients have become hostages of the pharmaceutical industry, Czech Health Minister Vlastimil Válek (TOP 09, EPP) said on Sunday.
There is rising support among the EU member states to impose compulsory stockpiles. Besides the Czech Republic, Belgium and even Germany are also pushing for the idea, the Czech minister said for Czech Television on Sunday.
Besides some companies having a monopoly in producing specific drugs like antibiotics, the pharmaceutical industry does not create stocks and distributes products immediately, which poses a significant risk, the minister added.
“Simply, patients have become hostages of the pharmaceutical industry over the past decade,” Válek said.
The Czech Republic is currently drafting legislation that would oblige pharmaceutical companies to have stockpiles to ensure the supply of medicines in the event of supply shortages. However, Válek is convinced that a Europe-wide approach is needed.
“Because if one, two, three countries change it, the European situation will not be solved. We need the producers to start behaving much more seriously and to consider that they must have some stockpiles to ensure supply in the event of similar outages,” Válek outlined.
The new EU pharmaceutical package presented in late April envisages the possibility of establishing contingency stocks – though the EU Commission remains cautious about it.
Pharmaceutical companies are also critical towards the creation of stockpiles.
According to Filip Vrubel, head of the Czech Association of Pharmaceutical Companies, compulsory stockpiles could lead to higher medicines prices and threaten the availability of supplies.
(Aneta Zachová | EURACTIV.cz)
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