The International Pharmaceutical Federation, FIP, has taken a strong move against global medicines shortages, as it charged national leaders and governments on timely investigation and implementation of strategies on the resolution of the issue.
The apex pharmaceutical body made the decision at the ongoing FIP World Congress holding virtually on Wednesday.
The recommendation, contained in a New Statement Policy of the FIP, urged governments across the globe to as soon as possible, instruct medicines regulatory authorities to investigate and develop proposals giving such extended powers to pharmacists.
It noted that all countries are encouraged to develop evidence-based risk mitigation strategies which might include contingency plans, pandemic planning and capacity redundancy appropriate to their national needs and strategic buffer stockpiles.
FIP specifically recommends that governments develop an interregional cooperation mechanism to define medicines shortages based on duration of shortage, health and economic impacts from the perspective of patients.
“Create policies at an interregional level (e.g., ASEAN, EU) encouraging the production of APIs and medicines inherently and consistently reported for shortages in the region in order to build resilience in times of public health emergencies
“Implement measures to create a regulatory and economic framework that promotes the diversification of production of APIs, raw materials and medicines in order to improve resilience in the supply chain and guarantee that all markets, regardless of their size or resources, are able to provide equitable access to medicines for their citizens.
“Develop harmonised reporting criteria in order to guarantee interoperability of the national reporting systems on medicines shortages and data comparability, including a list of shortages and an early warning system involving all supply chain stakeholders, about existing and anticipated shortage”, it quipped.
Mr Lars-Åke Söderlund, chair of FIP’s Medicines Shortages Policy Committee and president of FIP’s Community Pharmacy Section, observed that the causes of shortages are several, multidimensional and sometimes unpredictable. He noted that there is a growing among all stakeholders – patients, healthcare professionals, governmental organisations, pharmaceutical wholesalers and the pharmaceutical industry — about the future of medicines supplies worldwide.
He added: “There is evidence that shortages are worsening with time, creating ever more difficulties for healthcare professionals, and compromising patient safety. Shortages have been reported in countries of all income levels, occurring across all healthcare settings and involving essential life-saving medicines, very commonly used medicines and both high- and low-price medicines”.
Söderlund emphasised the commitments of FIP and its member organisations as stated in the New Policy Statement thus: “To develop evidence-based guidelines and competency development programmes targeting pharmacists’ roles in mitigating the impact of medicines shortages”.
FIP further recommends according to its New Statement Policy the global use of a single definition of medicines shortages and a set of harmonised criteria to identify and monitor shortages at national, regional and international level, to enhance understanding of the problem globally through more accurate, reliable and comparable data.
It tasks each country on establishment of a publicly accessible means of providing information on medicine shortages, as well as the development of a global process to determine the list of critical or vulnerable products.