Health, Economy

German pharmacies warn of shortage of cancer drugs

In Germany, more and more drugs are becoming scarce, 'dramatic proportions' in supply shortages reported

21.12.2022 - Update : 22.12.2022
German pharmacies warn of shortage of cancer drugs


The German healthcare system is in deep crisis. Hospitals and children's clinics are overcrowded. There are shortages of antipyretic, painkillers and antibiotics. Now there is also a shortage of cancer drugs.

Currently, there is a shortage of calcium folinate in particular for colorectal cancer patients, as daily Bild reported. A pharmacist from the eastern German city of Jena in the state of Thuringia, told the newspaper: "We're running out at the end of this week. How are doctors and pharmacists supposed to decide which patient gets the last cancer drugs?"

The German pharmaceutical association Phagro also warned on its website: "Supply shortages have reached dramatic proportions in places."

In a press release, the German Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM) blamed hoarding by some pharmacies and wholesalers for the drug shortages. As a result, there is a shortage of medicines elsewhere, the BfArM wrote.

Another cause is that there are currently so many respiratory infections in children, which increases demand.

On Tuesday, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach barely presented outlines for a supply chain reform.

"We have to take these drugs for children out of the fixed amounts, so that those are also sold more expensive. There I will react today also already that the health insurance companies are instructed to pay 50% more than this fixed amount," Lauterbach said on Tuesday morning in the Morgenmagazin of the public broadcaster ARD.

Cornerstones for a law provide, among other things, new price rules. That is to make supplies more economically attractive for providers.

According to the BfArM, there are currently 330 reports of supply shortages of preparations. However, according to the Health Ministry, this does not always automatically mean a supply shortage. Alternatives can often be procured or manufactured.

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