Doctors worry, but Medicines Agency says drug crisis is unlikely

Kai Kimmel, pharmacist at Paide Vee pharmacy, and a selection of children's antibacterial medicines that were in short supply a few months ago.
Kai Kimmel, pharmacist at Paide Vee pharmacy, and a selection of children's antibacterial medicines that were in short supply a few months ago. Source: ERR

Estonian pediatricians, general practitioners, and infectious disease organizations have written to Health Minister Riina Sikkut (SDE) to voice their concern over a lack of adequate antibiotics for small children, especially with autumn approaching.

In the spring and summer of this year, patients, physicians and pharmacies were all faced with a shortage of a number of first-line and pediatric medications.

"The issue began last fall, when there were serious concerns regarding the availability of antibiotics for both adults and children. Concerns regarding antibiotics for adults waned by the end of the year, but concerns about antibiotics for children persisted until midsummer. Eight out of 10 antibiotics are now available," Marko Tiisler, head of the agency's imports and exports monitoring department, said.

An experienced pharmacist, Kai Kimmel, said that although the current situation is favorable and medicines are readily available, the dread of supply shortages remains.

"Supply issues are not solely the responsibility of importers, but also of manufacturers. When the Ukrainian war began, there were so many supply gaps that we had a genuine difficulty — there were some active components that were entirely out of reach. Then there's also a scenario where one pharmaceutical company is sold to another, and the new manufacturer decides that it's no longer necessary to make all of the (medicines) that the old one did," Kimmel went on to say.

On the pharmaceutical market there is always a concern about a lack of certain medications.

"Meanwhile, we're like gamblers, checking the wholesaler's sales portfolio every now and then to see whether there's a shortfall. If there is a shortfall," Kimmel said. "And so it's been all summer like that with the children's antibiotics and a few more prescription drugs, but things are looking better for the time being."

"If a drug hasn't been available for a long time and then appears in a wholesale warehouse, everyone rushes to buy it; pharmacies scramble to be the first to get it, while the rest miss out," he added.

"The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has inquired about pharmaceutical companies' projections for the coming season. We have also examined ourselves the consumption in recent years ans the demand for medicines in Estonia. We are confident that there are now no major concerns at the moment; medicine supply will meet demand," Tiisler said.


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Editor: Marko Tooming, Kristina Kersa

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