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France Facing Lack of Essential Medicines – Minister


France is facing a shortage of a number of essential medicines, with the government planning to finalize a list of drugs required to be available in all pharmacies by May, French Minister of Health and Prevention Francois Braun said on Monday.

“We have a real problem with a number of medicines. We faced the shortage this winter. The supply of a number of drugs is limited, and there are fewer and fewer of them in stock. One just cannot find them in any pharmacy. This will not happen again. We are launching a plan against shortages of critical medications that people cannot live without. We are working on a list of essential medicines; it will be finished by May. We will be monitoring all stages of their production to control production chains and ensure their constant availability in pharmacies,” Braun said.

The minister added that strategic stocks of amoxicillin and paracetamol, the consumption of which traditionally increases in winter, will be created.

Braun recalled that French President Emmanuel Macron had issued a decree stipulating that France should become fully independent in terms of providing medicines by 2030. The majority of medicines are being imported from China, India, and the United States, the minister said, adding that France is planning to localize the production of their main components.

According to the newspaper Le Figaro, France is the fourth largest medicine manufacturer in the European Union. The COVID-19 pandemic, influenza, and bronchiolitis epidemics this winter have led to shortages of antibiotics, antipyretics, and painkillers in France’s pharmacies.

According to the newspaper, the European Union imports 40% of medicines from India and China. Moreover, 60% to 80% of active ingredients, such as paracetamol, are produced in these two countries. The Ukraine conflict has led to an increase in the cost of domestic production of medicines, as well as the surge in prices of aluminum and glass packaging, the report said.

In October 2022, the French National Agency for Medicines and Health Products Safety imposed restrictions on the sale of medicines containing paracetamol up to two packs to one person due to the risk of shortages. In January, France introduced a temporary restriction on the sale of paracetamol online amid its shortage. The French authorities cited the surge in coronavirus incidence in China, from where a significant number of drugs come to France, as the reason for these restrictions.

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