Switzerland faces a shortage of crucial medicines, warns government

Switzerland faces a shortage of crucial medicines, warns government

The Federal Office for National Economic Supply (FONES) has issued a stark warning, saying that the market for crucial pharmaceuticals and medication is “under pressure.” According to reporting from the Tages-Anzeiger, a shortage of painkillers and antibiotics is on the horizon.

Federal government in Switzerland taps into emergency supplies

While the supply of medicines for Swiss healthcare is “largely” still guaranteed, FONES said that the market for certain drugs and medicines is under sustained pressure. The situation is critical for antibiotics and oral opioids, the government said.

A spokesperson for FONES, Thomas Grünwald, confirmed that the federal government is already tapping into its emergency stockpile of medicines to cope with the shortage. He said that the shortage is due to multiple factors, including a surge of donations by regular people and pharmacies to the war in Ukraine.

According to the chief pharmacist at the FMI hospital group, Enea Martinelli, the shortage of drugs is mainly down to Brexit. The main supplier of opioid painkillers to Switzerland, for example, is an English company, which is suffering from a shortage of skilled workers due to new Brexit visa rules and is therefore slowing down production.

Supply chain issues affecting the supply of medicine

Another issue is the supply chain, with Martinelli noting that around 90 percent of generic medicine is manufactured in China and India. Supply chains in Asia have been continually interrupted in recent months, mainly due to hard, fast, and mostly unannounced lockdowns in China.

With the continuing war in Ukraine, Martinelli predicted that the demand for painkillers and antibiotics is only going to rise. He concluded, “We have to reckon with the fact that even the compulsory stocks are suddenly depleted. It is only a matter of time before important medicines are no longer available.”

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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