World, Health, Europe

Drug shortage in Germany may not be ending anytime soon

Shortage of raw materials for medicines hit Germany hard, and there is no medicine in warehouses, says pharmacist

Cuneyt Karadag  | 03.01.2023 - Update : 03.01.2023
Drug shortage in Germany may not be ending anytime soon


Germany’s drug supply problem continues to put pharmacies across the country in a difficult situation, and it may not be getting better anytime soon.

Pharmacist Meryem Coskun, who works in Berlin’s Neukolln district, which has a large ethnic Turkish population, told Anadolu Agency that the pharmacy sector has been "facing great difficulties in the supply of drugs" in recent months, especially for the last three or four months.

"There’s a big problem in the supply of drugs such as antibiotics, painkillers, antipyretics, children's antibiotics, and stomach protectors. I think the shortage of drugs will continue for a long time," Coskun said.

Saying that the problems in the global supply chain and the COVID-19 pandemic caused problems in the supply of pharmaceutical raw materials, she added: "The shortage of raw materials in medicine affected Germany a lot. Medicines can’t meet the demand, and there’s no medicine in the warehouses."

She said that drugs are given with limitations so that others can also obtain them since finding an equivalent of a drug is often not possible.

Saying that these problems might be solved if Germany steps up drug production, she cautioned: “But then the prices could get even more expensive."

No drugs from China or India

About 80% of the drugs in Germany are equivalent drugs produced in countries such as China and India.

The German Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices said the unavailable drugs include antibiotics, diabetes, and cancer drugs, and painkillers, and cited the lack of drugs from countries such as China and India as the main reason for the supply bottleneck.

Urging public to share medicines

Klaus Reinhardt, head of the German Medical Association, called on the public to "help each other through cooperation."

Reinhardt said unused drugs in people’s medicine cabinets can be used by others, adding that there is a need for a kind of "flea market-style" exchange for drugs.

Solving drug shortage by paying more for health insurance

German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach is trying to solve the country’s problems, especially with drugs used to treat children, by making health insurance pay more for these drugs.

Stressing that non-patented drugs are sold at fixed prices in Germany, Lauterbach said that in order to sell these drugs at higher prices, they should be removed from the fixed price list and price regulations should be drawn up.

Health insurers will be instructed to pay 50% more on this fixed price, he said, adding that this will mean drugs currently sold in the Netherlands will also be sold in Germany again.

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