Spanish pharmacies detect failures in the supply of 70 medicines every week. Last year there were 402 presentations that had difficulties being dispensed at any time or area of the country (150% more than in 2021), according to data from the General Council of Pharmaceutical Colleges (CGCF), which has launched a tool to alleviate the problem: Farmahelp, an application that connects pharmacies to locate medicines that are in short supply.
If a patient goes to a pharmacy and does not have what they are looking for, the pharmacist notifies them in the application and those who are in the area can answer if they have the product. “In this way, they can refer the client directly without having to go around looking for a drug,” explained Juan Pedro Rísquez, vice president of the CGCF, in the presentation of Farmahelp, which is already running tests with almost 6,000 affiliated establishments. and has made it possible to locate 3,000 medicines each month.
The problem of drug supply failures is not new. It has been produced throughout Europe for years and reached its peak in Spain in 2019. Since then dispensing has improved, but the problem has rebounded in 2022. Of all the missing presentations, however, 90% can be replaced by others They have the same active principle.
Behind this shortage there are several causes: globalization accompanied by few production plants, the crisis of raw materials or prices. Those in Spain are among the lowest in their environment and Jesús Aguilar, president of the CGCF, has pointed out that this causes factories to prioritize other countries when distributing certain medicines.
One of the most pressing problems today is that of children’s amoxicillin, for which adult presentations split in half are being used. “This is one of the solutions that can be provided, but there are others, such as making magisterial formulas in certain cases. We could solve more cases if the extraordinary actions of the community pharmacist were extended to avoid the interruption of a treatment in exceptional situations”, Aguilar pointed out.
The CGCF data indicate that three out of four incidents or alerts that they record correspond to medications indicated for the nervous, cardiovascular, respiratory, digestive or muscular systems. It is not that there is a special shortage in this type of drugs, but that they are also the most prescribed. Among them, those who had the most problems were ACEI-type antihypertensives (8%), anti-inflammatories (7%) and analgesics (7%).
To obtain these data, the Council uses the CisMED system, through which almost 10,000 pharmacies (of the 22,000 in Spain) report when supply failures occur. Only those whose failures are detected continuously for several days are counted. The result is these 403 presentations, more than double the amount reported by the Spanish Agency for Medicines and Health Products (AEMPS), which is mainly based on notifications by pharmaceutical companies.
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