Switzerland facing shortage of medicine due to supply and production issues

Switzerland facing shortage of medicine due to supply and production issues

According to a new report from NZZ am Sonntag, the number of medicines in Switzerland that are considered “unavailable” has doubled in the last five years. In all, the government reported that while up to 77 “essential" drugs face supply issues every year, this year has seen significantly more shortages than usual. 

Shortage of specialist and pain relief medicine in Switzerland

According to the newspaper, when missing doses, packaging and forms are taken into account, 613 types of medicine will be in short supply this year - many of which are essential to Swiss healthcare and hospitals. The NZZ blamed unprofitable drugs being taken off the market, traditional supply issues related to COVID and production slowdowns for the lack of crucial medication.

The shortages have impacted specialist care the most, with The Local noting that Antabus, a key treatment for those suffering from chronic alcoholism, is no longer available in the alpine nation. Mepha, the only company that makes the drug in Switzerland, blamed quality concerns for the shortage and predicted that the drug will not be available until November.

Pain relief is also in short supply, with “persistent production problems” making some opioid-based medicines unavailable for months. For families and children, there is also a shortage of cold medicines like cough syrups and ibuprofen.

Some medicines in short supply since June

“The situation with the supply of medicines has been continuously deteriorating since the start of June,” Enea Martinelli, chief pharmacist at the FMI hospital group in Bern, told the NZZ. She said that her hospital had been forced to buy medicine from abroad, and another hospital in Aarau is now planning to make the drugs themselves.

To help solve the issue, international companies, the government and Swiss cantons have started working on a plan to restore the supply of medicines in Switzerland - such as by improving emergency stockpiles, helping importers and boosting domestic production. Their recommendations will be announced by the end of the year.

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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