How did availability of medicines appear in 2022?
In 2022 the Finnish Medicines Agency Fimea received 2,335 reports of problems of medicine shortages from pharmaceutical companies. In 2021 1,710 reports were received, and in 2020 the number was 2,095.
“Despite the growth in the number of shortage reports, there were no significant changes in the availability of medicines in 2022, and the underlying reasons for the shortages have remained similar to those in previous years. The number of pharmaceutical supply problems reported in 2022 corresponds to about five percent of all packages of pharmaceutical preparations on sale in Finland”, says Timo Mauriala Head of the Product Quality Control Unit at Fimea.
Supply problems most frequent in largest product groups
Problems involving availability are most frequently reported in product groups which have the most preparations on the market in Finland.
Most of the availability disturbances in 2022 involved medications affecting the nervous system, such as analgesics, anaesthetics, and psychiatric medications. The next most frequent reports were for medicines for the treatment of cardio-vascular diseases and illnesses of the digestive system and metabolic problems. The three largest product groups comprised 45 percent of all reported shortages.
Users of medicines rarely encounter availability disturbances
In most cases, the users of the medicines or the doctors prescribing them rarely confront supply problems. Most of the shortages are temporary, or can be dealt with through alternate, or generic drugs.
“Exceptions in 2022 involved pharmaceutical preparations whose shortages were not reported in advance to Fimea by the pharmaceutical supplier despite an obligation to do so, or drugs which had a sudden unexpected peak in demand. For example, sudden surges in demand for iodine pills caused momentary cuts in availability in 2022”, Mauriala says.
An increasing number of shortages has also been noted in other EU countries, and worldwide. Fimea is taking part in an EU collaborative project In 2023. The goal of the project is to harmonise the way that shortages are processed among officials of the member states, and in that way, to reduce supply problems for medicines and to stave off their impact in Europe
“To improve the availability of medicines, we need to go into the underlying root causes and to focus on solutions with persevering work both on a national, and EU level”, Mauriala observes.
More extensive information on the availability of medicines in 2022 in the Sic! publication: What did availability of medicines look like in 2022? (in Finnish)
Have there been changes in the availability of medicines? (Fimea.fi news 2 December2022) (in Finnish)
- Timo Mauriala, Head of Unit, tel. +358 29 522 3214
- Julia Lehtinen, Senior Inspector, tel. +358 29 522 3288
- E-mail address format: firstname.lastname@example.org