The consumption of antibiotics is half as high this year, the drug market is expected to improve at the end of February

The consumption of antibiotics is half as high this year, the drug market is expected to improve at the end of February

Consumption of antibiotics by half this yearšší, drug market struggles&aacute ; zlepšit nem února

Minister of Health Vlastimil Válek spoke at a press conference on the current situation regarding the availability of medicines, February 10, 2023, Prague.

Prague – This year, according to Minister of Health Vlastimil Válk (TOP 09), the consumption of antibiotics increased by 300,000 packages year-on-year, i.e. by 47 percent in the area of ​​tablet antibiotics. In the case of syrups, interest increased by 136 percent, overall by 54 percent in the entire group of antibiotics. Increased consumption also affected their availability in recent weeks, but it is now decreasing. According to Deputy Minister Jakub Dvořáček, the situation on the drug market should stabilize at the end of February. According to him, antibiotics in tablets are already available, suspensions are still missing. They said this at today's press conference. In the long term, the ministry wants to solve the problems with the supply of medicines by changing the law, which could start paying as early as this year.

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Consumption of antibiotics this year by half, the drug market is improving

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“Partly, we managed to speed up part of the deliveries, partly we managed to get medicines to the Czech Republic that would not have been here at all. The falling demand also plays a part in this,” said Válek. The deliveries of hundreds of thousands of packages were accelerated, according to him, in the next week even children's penicillin syrups, which will cover the consumption for ten weeks, could be delivered earlier. According to him, the situation will not be easy, but there will always be some available in all categories of drugs.

In the first quarter of last year, according to data from the State Institute for Drug Control (SÚKL), 2.3 million packages of antibiotics of more than 70 types were delivered to the Czech Republic for more than 367 million crowns. The largest supply was the broad-spectrum antibiotic amoxicillin, which was delivered over 408,000 packages.

Válek rejected criticism from the parliamentary opposition that he was personally responsible for the lack of medicines. According to him, there are several reasons why medicines are missing in other countries as well, and they cannot be influenced at the national level. Among them, he mentioned production restrictions in China, due to which mainly medicine packaging is missing. The situation was similarly affected by the war in Ukraine, where a significant part of the drugs was also produced.

The production of medicines is planned roughly a year in advance and according to consumption from recent years. According to Válk, the production of medicines for the beginning of this year was planned for the beginning of 2022. However, the consumption is significantly higher than in 2021, when morbidity was low thanks to anti-epidemic measures. “Covid ended and a wave of flu started, a large number of patients in a relatively very short time,” added the minister. Producers could not react immediately, and the first outages caused consumption to increase as people started stocking up.

The minister also refused to link the current lack of medicines with their supplies to Ukraine. “We sent the medicines last year at the turn of spring and summer,” he said. According to him, these were drugs used mainly in acute medicine and in the treatment of injuries. “These are completely different medicines than those used now for colds or angina,” he added.

The amendment to the law will oblige manufacturers to keep a one- to two-month supply of all medicines. At the same time, a permanent group will work at the ministry, which will also try to predict the availability of medicines from international data. For those that are potentially unavailable, it can request data on consumption in recent weeks and the previous year from pharmacies and distributors. “At the pharmacy's request, the distributor will have to deliver the medicine it has in stock to the pharmacy within 48 hours,” added Dvořáček. For these drugs, pharmacies would only be able to order the quantity usually used and would not be able to stock up.

Válek would like the amendment to go to the House of Representatives in the first half of this year and apply from July, at the latest from the beginning of next year year. By the end of February, the ministry will submit it to the comments procedure.