Czech Health Ministry working to solve shortage of fever medicine for children

The Ministry of Health negotiated 300,000 packs of Nurofen for children, roughly a third will arrive by Christmas.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 15.12.2022 11:37:00 (updated on 15.12.2022) Reading time: 3 minutes

The Czech Health Ministry negotiated the supply of 300,000 packages of Nurofen for children for the Czech Republic. The first part, roughly a third, should arrive by Christmas, Minister of Health Vlastimil Válek said yesterday.

Nurofen is a brand name for preparations that contain Ibuprofen. According to the manufacturer, it offers fast and effective reduction of fever, fast and effective relief of the symptoms of colds and influenza, and mild to moderate pain, such as a sore throat, teething pain, toothache, earache, headache, minor aches, and sprains.

Válek said there is a lack of Nurofen syrup across Europe. The manufacturer Reckitt Benckiser Group subsequently confirmed to ČTK that soluble Nurofen powder will be available in the Czech Republic next week for children aged from three months and from six years; suppositories will also be available.

Shortages of children’s pain medicine are not just a problem in European Union. A lack of medicine has been reported in Turkey, Canada, and China, among other places. In China, people have been stockpiling fever medication such as Ibuprofen due to fears of a new wave of Covid-19.

Some Nurofen products to remain unavailable until 2023

The State Institute for Drug Control (SÚKL) announced on Monday that Nurofen syrup for children would not be available until mid-March next year. Reckitt Benckiser told SÚKL that the reason for the shortage was for "production reasons." Currently, the company is not even delivering children's suppositories to the Czech Republic.

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However, Reckitt Benckiser told ČTK that Nurofen for children 20 mg/ml with an orange flavor will be unavailable until March next year. Nurofen 20 mg/ml intended for patients from three months in a 100 ml package and Nurofen 40 mg/ml intended for patients from six years in a 100 ml package will be on sale next week.

Both drugs will be available as soluble powder with a strawberry flavor. People will also be able to buy Nurofen 125 mg suppositories for children.

"We are working intensively with our manufacturing plants and suppliers to resolve the temporary situation with a shortage of medicines," the company said.

The supply of Nurofen for children will be distributed throughout the pharmacy network, Benckiser said. According to him, distributors in cooperation with SÚKL are already preparing for it.

Changes needed to streamline the supply system

Válek said it is necessary to address the situation systemically, which is why an amendment to the Medicines Act is under an internal comment procedure. Among other things, it should bring a better overview of the situation in pharmacies or the obligation for distributors to keep a stock of prescription drugs.

According to Válek, SÚKL should be obliged to have information about the quantity of medicines in pharmacies online so that it can react immediately if there is a significant drop in a medicine and the manufacturer also reports information about the shortage. SÚKL now receives information at relatively long intervals and is unable to react promptly, Válek said.

For prescription drugs, distributors should keep a stock. According to Válek, there is still a debate on how long; he said that he would like to see a six-week stockpile. "If there was a shortage of prescription drugs … pharmacies would only get it in the amount they really need for their patients," he noted.

Válek also wants to open up a discussion about whether some drugs that have emerged in the last three decades should be fully covered. According to Válek, this would mean a large cost for health insurance companies, but he considers the debate legitimate. "We need to be more flexible in responding to how pharmacotherapy and medicines in general evolve," he added.

Fever syrup is in short supply for the third time since May. The Czech Chamber of Pharmacists says the reasons for the shortages are varied, but sometimes pharmacies are not even aware of them. They also say the fact that the production of a large part of the drugs has moved outside Europe compounds the problem. Sometimes panic can also be behind an outage, with pharmacies or patients stocking up on replacements when a drug is unavailable.

According to Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský, the state has not had a good experience with stockpiling specific medicines in the past, as some of them had to be disposed of. However, he said, drug supply has an impact on state security and the government pays a lot of attention to it.

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