Estonia's pharmacies running out of children's cold medicines, antibiotics

Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Estonian children are currently experiencing the highest outbreak of flu and respiratory diseases for the last 10 years. The problem is part of a global trend and has led to a medicine shortage.

Family doctor Eero Merilind recently posted advice for parents on social media about how they can bring down a child's fever without medication.

Pharmacies are running low on children's doses of ibuprofen and paracetamol and flu tests due to supply chain issues, Monday's "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported.

"We are currently in a situation where it is very difficult for doctors to treat [illnesses]. It's flu season, viruses are raging, but there are no medicines. There are no fever-reducing drugs, no antibiotics, no eye infection medicine. There are a lot of supply [chain] difficulties in Estonia," Merilind told AK.

Eero Merilind Source: ERR

"I do not remember a time in the past when Estonia faced such complex problems that we did not have basic medicines," he said.

Medicinal syrups are also running low, said Karin Alamaa, a pharmacist at Tallinn Vilde pharmacy.

"Unfortunately, I have to say that we have no syrups today — nothing. Neither paracetamol nor ibuprofen syrup," she told the show.

Alamaa said pharmacists can not make syrups themselves, even though it is technically possible.

Pharmacy. Photo is illustrative. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

"If a young patient cannot take a tablet, the tablet can be crushed into a powder. And the powder can be weighed out in just the right amount. But these syrups... it's a different technology altogether. It is unlikely that the child would even want [to take] the solution that could be made in a pharmacy because it is just as bitter as a tablet," she said.

Estonia's situation is part of a global trend that is related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Director General of the Medicines Board deputy said during this time the spread of infectious diseases was "significantly lower" than usual which has led to supply chain issues.

"Volumes fell and, as a result, manufacturers reduced their planned volumes. It is now a normal year for the spread of infectious diseases, volumes are up again, but this has created supply problems," he said.

Doctor. Source: Pixabay

The number of drugs manufactured in Europe has also decreased and production has shifted to Asia and India.

Laius said all parties — manufacturers, wholesalers and pharmacies — involved in the process have "a role to play" in the current situation.

This flu season has not yet peaked and quick solutions are not expected.

"Producers have told us that the next deliveries could take place in January or February next year," said Laius.


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Editor: Marko Tooming, Helen Wright

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