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Medication bottleneck Medicine shortage worries Swiss pharmacists

A picture of Enea Martinelli

Hospital pharmacist Enea Martinella said doctors and patients must prepare for the worst-case scenario – switching to a different active ingredient.

(Keystone)

Almost 400 medications are currently in short supply in Switzerland. Pharmacists are sounding the alarm.

Ibuprofen drugs, the popular heart medication Aspirin Cardio and the asthma spray Ventolin are currently no longer being delivered to Switzerland and the pharmacies are running short on supplies, reported Swiss public television, SRF, on Tuesday.

Hospital pharmacist Enea Martinella said doctors and patients must prepare for the worst-case scenario – switching to a different active ingredient.

But substituting drugs because they are no longer available would have a whole host of negative consequences, Martinella warned in an interview with SRF.

“It would lead to significantly more visits to the doctor and higher costs,” he said. “Record after record is being broken.”

The pharmacists’ national shortage list for which Martinella is responsible currently contains 388 medications that are difficult to obtain. 

+ Swiss campaign to make lifesaving drugs affordable

Lack of active ingredients

The federal short-supply list of important painkillers, antibiotics and vaccines is shorter.

Ueli Haudenschild of the Federal Office of Economic Supply said the trend towards a national medication shortage has been ongoing for the past two years.

While the current situation did not represent a peak, it was “problematic that important products are permanently unavailable”, he said.

Of particular concern was the lack of individual active ingredients when it came to antibiotics, which was the case 20 times last year alone, he said.

The reason for the lack of certain ingredients is that they are being manufactured in just a few manufacturing plants in the world.

If a fire or tornado affects those factories, as happened two years ago in China and Puerto Rico, the whole pharmacological industry is affected, said Haudenschild.

SRF-RTS/ln

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