PGEU annual report on medicine shortages

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As every year, PGEU (the association representing community pharmacists at the European level) run a survey among its members to assess the current situation of medicine shortages. The report resulting from this survey shows that more countries are experiencing problems related to medicine shortages: there aren’t categories of medicines not involved in this shortage problem.

“Despite pharmacists continued best efforts to find solutions, shortages still leave many patients without their prescribed treatment. This situation causes frustration and inconvenience for patients and erodes their trust in pharmacists and in the healthcare system. They also cause stress for pharmacy staff and impose an additional administrative burden on pharmacies daily work”.PGEU President, Aris Prins

The time spent by community pharmacies to deal with shortages almost tripled over the last 10 years, reaching an average of 10 hours per week in 2023.

The main outcomes of the yearly survey

All respondent countries experienced medicines shortages in 2023. Only three respondents reported positive improvements over the previous year (Cyprus, Greece and North Macedonia, representing 12% of the total), some other a stable situation (23%). In the great majority of cases (65%), shortages increased with respect to 2022, confirming the already known trend.

Among the most difficult medicines to find are antibiotics, medicines for the respiratory system and for the cardiovascular system. Other therapeutic classes often impacted at a European level are medicines for alimentary tract and metabolism, the nervous system, and antineoplastic and immunomodulating agents (77% of countries impacted, respectively).

The problem also concerns medical devices, with shortages in community pharmacies reported by 69% (+3% vs 2022) of the countries participating in the survey. Again, all classes of medical devices are affected by the problem.

For further information on this report, impacts and possibile solutions, consult the EIPG web page.