Medicine Shortages - The Netherlands To Create "Iron Stock" Of Medicines
The latest European country to announce measures to tackle medicine shortages is The Netherlands. Minister of Medical Care Bruno Bruins announced this morning the creation of what he referred to as an “iron stock” (“ijzeren voorraad”) of medicines that would cover five months of supplies (see, attached press release).
The stock would include all medicines available on the Dutch market and would be built up gradually from 2020 onwards. It is expected to reach completion in 2022. The system will require a range of agreements among suppliers, wholesalers, pharmacists and payers on both operational and funding issues. Some of these arrangements will give rise to competition law scrutiny. For example, the Minister anticipates the parties “better to predict the demand for medicines in order to match supply and demand optimally”.
The new rules will be laid down in a policy measure that will be overseen by the Inspection for Medical Care and Youth (“Inspectie Gezondheidszorg en Jeugd”). The Minister estimates the cost of the iron stock to amount to approximatively EUR 25 million. The press release does not indicate whether this is a one-off or a recurring expense.
Finally, Minister Bruins once more advocates for a European approach to some of the medicine shortage problems. Echoing a proposal made by the French government (see, Van Bael & Bellis Life Sciences Newsflash of 9 July 2019), he suggests that the production of specific “crucial medicines” and pharmaceutical ingredients should return to Europe.