Critical Medicines Act Proposed By EU To Boost Drug Access

A group involving 19 European Union member countries is pushing for steps to lessen the bloc’s dependence when it comes to Chinese imports as far as pharmaceutical ingredients are concerned, according to a paper dated May 2.

This move comes after a week of the European Commission proposing an overhaul of its 136-billion-euro pharmaceutical sector.

The proposed bill of the commission looks to revive the investment, reduce the shortage, and at the same time boost access to affordable drugs in a scenario where health budgets have been pushed to their limits due to the costs involved in the treatment of COVID-19. That said, the countries that are backing the said paper, which include the likes of France, Belgium, Spain, and Germany, want the EU to take more efficient steps in order to bolster the security of supplies when it comes to vital drug ingredients with the Critical Medicines Act.

The countries happen to be concerned when it comes to the global reliance on China in terms of key ingredients and just a handful of manufacturers. It is well to be noted that just five sites manufacture more than 50% of the total ingredients that meet the European benchmark.

As per the paper, the EU is becoming more and more dependent on imports from a few manufacturers as well as regions. Apparently, in 2019, across the world, above 40% of the APIs were sourced from China. Besides, all the API producers are dependent on China when it comes to intermediate inputs.

The commission is looking to roll out a list of critical medicines that require more tracking to make sure that shortages are avoided across the EU. The paper opines that for these medicines, the supply has to be monitored, the global value chains have to be mapped, and suppliers who show potential as well as vulnerabilities should be identified. The list is going to begin with those medications that have consistently been in short supply. The countries will also like to gauge measures that allow EU states to be dependent on one another in cases where no substitute supplies or drugs are found.