HELLO DOCTOR? Pharmacists want to test better first to avoid prescribing the antibiotic unnecessarily against viruses
- The public medicine agency (ANSM) recently spoke of “serious supply tensions” over amoxicillin, an antibiotic widely used to treat children, saying that a shortage could last until March. /li>
- 20 Minutes takes stock with Pierre-Olivier Variot, president of the Union of Community Pharmacists' Unions, of the causes of the shortage and its consequences for children's health .
- Between the increase in global demand and the soaring price of glass, France is not the only one to have supply problems. But our consumption is also too high compared to the real needs.
For the past few weeks, pharmacists have been struggling to fill their cupboards. Between rising demand and disrupted deliveries, some antibiotics are now lacking. the call. To the point of pushing the health authorities to take measures. The public drug agency (ANSM) thus evoked the “high supply tensions” about amoxicillin, a widely used antibiotic; to look after the children.
The shortage could last until March, leaving parents fearing a difficult winter. But why is this medicine out of stock? How are we going to be able to take care of the children? 20 Minutestakes stock with Pierre-Olivier Variot, president of the Union of Community Pharmacists.
What is amoxicillin?
Its name may not mean anything to you, yet it is the most widespread antibiotic. “It’s a historic antibiotic, derived from penicillin, which is used as a first line treatment to treat many things,” explains Pierre-Olivier Variot. It is administered in particular against “ear infections, toothache” or certain pneumonias. “Combined” to clavulanic acid, it is also used more specifically for more resistant infections”, explains the pharmacist. But amoxicillin is mostly given alone for children, “especially in syrup”, against most bacterial infections.
Why is there a risk of a shortage of this medicine?
It’s precisely on the syrup that the French pharmacies are “already;” in tension of supply”, points out the pharmacist. Several causes combine. “First, there is a strain on the production of the molecule as demand explodes” at the global level, explains Pierre-Olivier Variot. After several years marked by Covid, the spread of other diseases had been slowed down. slowed down, and stocks did not always follow. Then, the sector is indirectly affected; by the war in Ukraine and the soaring prices of energy and certain raw materials. “The glass bottle used for the syrup also undergoes a great tension,” specifies the president of the Union of Syndicates of Pharmacists of Pharmacies, as well as aluminum, making “the sachets more difficult to remove. ; make”.
But that's not all. “Supply tension is global, but it’s more pronounced in France,” he said. In question, the price of the drug. “The manufacturing chain is complex to handle. put in place because you have to clean everything, you don't want to end up with another molecule in the bottle,” he explains. However, after years of intense production of vaccines for example, “transforming a production line to sell amoxicillin in France, it’s not profitable”. “We pay for having the cheapest medicines in Europe: in France, a box of amoxicillin is sold for two or three euros, against twelve or thirteen in Great Britain, for the same cost of production”, notes Pierre-Olivier Variot.
Will we be able to treat our children this winter”?
As in any shortage, “we must rationalize the use of this antibiotic”, believes Pierre-Olivier Variot, while “we dispense with it enormously and not always at all times. wisely.” The pharmacist is counting on doctors to “educate the population”: “if we only do the Covid test and give an antibiotic “just in case” , the patient is not going to take risks and choose the drug,” In the absence of amoxicillin, “we can transfer the patient to other less used antibiotics, but which will therefore also be in tension,” he warns.
It is therefore crucial to make more precise diagnoses. “There are tests that check for three viruses: Covid, influenza and RSV” the origin of bronchiolitis, of which France is undergoing an epidemic. Another type of test, “in the Netherlands there is a CRP assay, the level of which varies depending on whether the infection is viral or bacterial, and this for all types of infections” enthusiasm Pierre-Olivier Variot. When the test shows the presence of a virus, the medicine is useless. “If we got to have these tests taken care of at health insurance, we would reduce the consumption of antibiotics” without altering the care provided, he says. In the Netherlands, the use of amoxicillin has thus declined; by 45% with the new tests. This would allow French pharmacies to have sufficient stock all winter for the children who will need it.