Patrycja Kurowska, Wojciech Giermaziak
Access to medicines during the coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic
The SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, which causes a disease called COVID-19, was discovered in late December 2019. A few months later, the World Health Organization (WHO), has declared a pandemic state related to the new virus. The symptoms of COVID-19 may vary, but in severe cases people with this disease can get pneumonia and multi-organ failure. Countries affected by the pandemic have taken a number of steps to prevent the crisis in the healthcare system. Their governments have introduced various restrictions, such as: mandatory social distancing, movement restrictions, air and land borders closure. Some countries limited prescriptions of potential coronavirus drugs. Many sectors have been affected by the pandemic. As a result, the functioning of international distribution channels was limited. This caused local difficulties in accessing medicines and medical devices. As the pandemic progresses, the problem caused by these preventive measures could worsen and cause global drug shortages. The article analyzes the causes of the drug shortages that occured during pandemic. They could occur as a result of, among others, increased demand, export bans, stockpiling by hospitals or patients and temporary lockdowns of manufacturing units. This article presents solutions implemented in different countries to ensure drug safety for its people and to stop the crisis in the health care system. In April, the European Commission issued guidelines to tackle shortages in European Union. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been monitoring the medical product supply chain and continues to work with manufacturers to mitigate and prevent drug shortages as the pandemic situation evolves. FDA proposed such solutions as, for example: lenghtening the Expiration Dates of medicines; introducing Risk Management Plans; mandatory reporting of medical equipment by manufacturers. Additionally, the article highlights the role of pharmacists and the health policymakers in overcoming the difficulties caused by the COVID-19 coronavirus epidemic.
Keywords: coronavirus, pandemic, drug shortage, COVID-19.
© Farm Pol, 2020, 76 (9): 500–508