On 8 April,
the European Commission published guidelines on the supply of medicines needed
to treat COVID-19 patients (C(2020) 2272 final). The aim of this communication is
to work towards the smooth supply of medicines and medical oxygen and to
prevent shortages. Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides had previously written
to the European pharmaceutical associations and called on them to meet their
responsibility for ensuring sufficient production and access to necessary medicines.
The aim is
to show solidarity by lifting export bans and restrictions as much as possible
and avoid preventive stockpiling. Reliable information should prevent excessive
purchasing behaviour. This applies not only to citizens purchasing non-prescription
medicines, but also to pharmaceutical wholesalers and community pharmacies.
Temporarily limiting online sales of essential medicines should also be
It is also
imperative to ensure the supply of necessary products. The Commission has
developed a range of proposals to achieve this, including:
- Improving the exchange of information
between authorities, industry, wholesalers and hospital pharmacies,
particularly regarding shortages or special needs. This should make use of
the communication channels of the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
- The Commission also makes
reference to Temporary Framework C(2020) 3200 final, which is designed to
facilitate cooperation between companies with regard to antitrust law in
order to promote the production of pharmaceuticals in high demand.
- Manufacturing capacity can be
supported by fiscal incentives and State aid. Workers in the
pharmaceutical industry and wholesale should be provided with personal
protective equipment and the ability to travel to their workplace should
be ensured. Particular flexibility must also be applied in the context of
the Commission’s guidelines for cross-border workers (2020/C 102 I/03).
- There should also be regulatory
flexibility, for example, when it comes to designating new production
sites or extending product expiry dates.
Commission rightly points out that there are different ways of bridging the gap
between the supply and demand of medicines. The Commission itself is counting
on more coordination and cooperation. There is already talk of a ‘White Deal’
(white being the colour associated with the healthcare).