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Shortage of medicines - how to address an emerging problem

The Covid-19 pandemic highlighted an ongoing problem: shortages of certain medicines in the EU. The European Parliament is proposing a series of measures to end this increasing but largely silent problem. The Covid-19 pandemic highlighted an ongoing problem: shortages of certain medicines in the EU. The European Parliament is proposing a series of measures to end this increasing but largely silent problem.
Combatting medicine shortages in the EU © European Parliament

Shortage of medicines is a long-standing problem in the EU that has worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic, with direct negative consequences for the health and safety of patients. In July 2020, the ENVI Committee adopted a report on shortage of medicines, calling for the EU to regain its health independence and for better coordination between Member States to address medicine shortages. The report was adopted by the Parliament by 663 votes to 23, with 10 abstentions, in September 2020.

The resolution suggests that the EU response shall be based on four pillars:

(1) Securing supply of medicines within the Union, reducing EU's dependence on third countries and supporting the local manufacture;

(2) Strengthen EU action to better coordinate and complement Member States' health policies, inter alia, through the creation of a European unit for the prevention and management of shortages;

(3) Strengthening cooperation among Member States, inter alia by improving early communication to health professionals and patients on the availability of medicines through innovative digital tools;

(4) Preventing and responding to shortages in the event of health crises, thanks to a European pandemic preparedness plan to ensure a coordinated and effective response, but also more flexible regulatory measures in times of crisis to alleviate shortages and facilitate the movement of medicines across the EU.

Rapporteur and shadows

Rapporteur: N. Colin-Oesterlé (PPE)

Shadows: A. Moretti (S&D), V. Trillet-Lenoir (Renew), L. Regimenti (ID); M. Rivasi (Greens/EFA), J. Kopcińska (ECR), K. Konečná (GUE/NGL)