Majority of medicines currently in use in Finland are imported from abroad.
Imagine a situation where a plant, which a product's active substance is derived from, grows in a rainforest in Brazil. The plant is then processed for extraction in Japan and the extract inserted into soft capsules in the US, before the capsules are packaged in Germany. On the global pharmaceutical market, even the smallest of disruptions might bring the entire supply chain to a halt. When a raw material runs out, a factory faces production quality issues, a fire destroys an entire factory or its surrounding areas are affected by flooding or earthquakes, a medicinal product might become unavailable in all developed countries.
If the unforeseen shortage of a medicine is global, suppliers of other similar medicines are unlikely to have had the opportunity to adapt to the resulting increased demand. Therefore, there may also be a shortage of substitute preparations. This is the case if new products are not placed on the market or if a product that was originally affected by a shortage of supply is not re-available to pharmacies accordingly.
Risks to disruptions have been identified in the supply of any medicine, especially at the beginning and end of the life cycle of the medicine. In particular, products that have been on the market for a long time and no longer have competitors on the market are more susceptible to shortages of supply. In this case, the alternative to a prescription medicine is often an alternative treatment determined by a physician, and the alternative to an OTC medicine is asking for advice from a pharmacy.
If a medicinal product becomes temporarily unavailable, the pharmaceutical company must notify Fimea of this. Fimea will publish information reported by the pharmaceutical company on temporary supply shortages in its Shortage search (linkki).
Shortages that have been reported to Fimea can be found here: