Europe’s COVID-19 battle: Update on the supply of medicines to the patients that need them

On Friday of last week, EFPIA participated in the second of what are now weekly calls with Health Commissioner Kyriakides, Commissioner Breton and Commissioner Lenarčič together with representatives from across the medicines and medical devices supply chain.

EFPIA and our member companies and associations are committed to the global fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Our first thoughts are with all those affected by the outbreak. As an industry, we are focused on three key areas; the search for new vaccines, diagnostics and treatments to help in the fight against the COVID-19, supporting governments and health systems on the ground and ensuring the supply of medicines to the patients that need them.

With Europe now at the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic, there are perpetual challenges in getting medicines to patients across Europe, challenges that EFPIA member companies are meeting head on. These include logistical issues where shipments of medicines, vaccines and semi-finished products across Europe are becoming increasingly difficult to organize. There are demand pressures on some treatments used to manage the symptoms of COVID-19, these pressures can be exacerbated by unilateral decisions by Member States. In addition, there can be supply challenges as a result of failure to manage ‘panic’ buying of prescription medicines at the pharmacy level. Another emerging issue is the reduction in air traffic leading to less capacity to move medicines and materials around Europe and beyond. Addressing this issue requires coordination between the European Commission, Governments, air carriers, logistics operators and industry to ensure that we can continue to produce and ship medicines to where they are needed.

Today (23 March 2020) stock levels of medicines and manufacturing cadence are being maintained. The situation remains fluid, a pandemic of this scale contains inevitable uncertainty, but at this point EFPIA members do not anticipate impacts to their supply chains unless disruption due to the COVID-19 outbreak is sustained over several months.

Members continually monitor their supply chains and contingency plans as well as liaising with the Commission, the European Medicines Agency (EMA), Member States and their Competent Authorities to address issues as they arise with pragmatic approaches that put patient needs first. At the same time, researchers from across our member companies will continue the quest to find diagnostics, vaccines and treatments to address the crisis.

#WeWontRest in the fight against COVID-19