The shortage of pediatric medicines across Europe has prompted the Austrian Ministry of Health to respond by proposing new EU legislation. The updated legislation aims to bring the production of medicines back to Europe, ensuring their availability, accessibility, and affordability without restrictions.
The ministry’s statement follows an open letter from pediatricians in various European countries, including Austria, highlighting the critical shortage of pediatric medicines. The letter cited concerns about the health of children and adolescents in the long term, as the shortage of essential medicines may lead to treatments that are neither suitable nor based on therapy guidelines.
To address the immediate shortage, the Austrian Ministry of Health has already implemented quickly effective measures, such as simplifying the magistral preparation of children’s antibiotics with the active ingredient amoxicillin in pharmacies. The preparation of amoxicillin may now be done in pharmacies without the approval of the chief physician and controlling physician, making it easier and faster to administer to patients.
To prevent future shortages, the ministry is preparing an ordinance to significantly increase the reserves of medicines and active ingredients in Austria. Discussions are already underway with pharmaceutical wholesalers and drug manufacturers to ensure the long-term supply of essential medicines in Austria.
The situation has prompted Bavaria to take temporary measures, allowing the import of antibiotic juices for children that are not approved in Germany. According to Bavarian Health Minister Klaus Holetschek, the temporary deviation from the Medicines Act in individual cases would enable pharmaceutical wholesalers, companies, and pharmacies to act efficiently.
The pediatricians’ open letter emphasized that children and young people need comparatively fewer medications, but these are not easily interchangeable. Antibiotics, fever and painkillers, medication for asthma, and vaccines are essential basic needs for children and young people, and the shortage of these medicines is a grave concern.
The letter further noted that the effects of government austerity measures and price regulations hit the medicines sector for children and young people particularly hard. The cost of medicines for children and young people is marginal compared to that of adults. The experts called on political leaders to ensure sufficient production and stockpiling of important medicines for primary pediatric care in Europe.
In response, the Austrian Ministry of Health has called for a coordinated effort at the EU level to address the current shortage of medicines and prevent future shortages. The ministry emphasized that bringing the production of medicines back to Europe is vital to ensuring their long-term supply and accessibility.