German doctors warn medicine shortages will last for months
German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach has vowed new measures to boost drug supply, but health groups are sceptical that the situation will improve soon.
Medical associations in Germany on Wednesday warned that the country’s ongoing drug shortages are likely to persist for months, despite new measures announced by Berlin. Liquid ibuprofen and paracetamol for children are among the drugs experiencing supply chain bottlenecks.
COVID-19, influenza, respiratory syncytial virus infection (RSV) and other diseases have put a massive burden on Germany’s healthcare system this winter, with children among the most infected.
DW correspondent Giulia Saudelli said many doctors and staff at the Charite Hospital in Berlin have been redirected to children’s wards to combat the surge of infections.
The severity of the health crisis makes ending the drug shortages an urgent issue, but medical experts fear the bottlenecks will not end anytime soon.
Family practices may face the greatest impact
“It’s going to take many months until the supply situation improves,” Thomas Preis of the North Rhine Pharmacists’ Association of Düsseldorf told the German Rheinische Post newspaper on Wednesday.
Nicola Buhlinger-Göpfarth of the German Association of General Practitioners also told the paper that the supply issues will continue, with family medical practices impacted in particular.
Buhlinger-Göpfarth said family practices will need to spend a great deal of time searching for alternative drugs in order to replace the medicines that are in short supply.
She noted that in some cases, there are “simply no alternatives” for ailing patients.
How has the German government reacted?
German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach unveiled a myriad of measures to ease supply bottlenecks earlier this week. These included lifting a drug price cap and allowing health insurance firms to pay more for medicine.
These policies by the government attempt to make Germany more attractive to drug suppliers. Yet Lauterbach’s moves have been criticized as a Christmas present for the pharmaceutical industry.
The health minister has shot back at the criticism: “I think this is first and foremost a present for the children.” Lauterbach is confident the government’s new measures will “have an effect very quickly.”