Shortages in the supply of medicines: the government’s “mania to save” enrages pharmacists

Supply bottlenecks for medicines
Government ‘craze for austerity’ enrages pharmacists

Growing staff shortages and increasing delivery bottlenecks are becoming more and more of a problem for German pharmacies. After the corona pandemic, the next crisis is already in place, the pharmacist associations warn and repeatedly accuse health policy of inaction.

The Federal Union of German Associations of Pharmacists (Abda) has accused politicians and health insurance companies of “saving mania” in the supply of medicines. This, as well as increasing delivery bottlenecks, excessive bureaucracy and “the ever-decreasing number of local pharmacies” are making the situation worse, said Abda President Gabriele Overwiening in Berlin.

After the corona pandemic has been overcome, there will be the next crisis with the “unspeakable bottlenecks in the supply of medicines”. This means a lot of extra work for the pharmacies, which is not additionally remunerated. Instead, there are fee cuts. The delivery bottlenecks for certain medicines are “a symbol of a health policy that is too much geared towards savings,” criticized Overwiening. She accused the federal government of inaction in the event of drug shortages.

The Abda reiterated its call for an extension of decision-making powers in the event of delivery problems. A regulation enacted during the pandemic allowed pharmacies to dispense a spare medicine they had in stock when they filled a prescription. The President of the Association demanded that this flexible regulation for the dispensing of medicines and the “decision-making authority” of pharmacists must be retained.

Number of pharmacies at all time low

According to new data from Abda, the number of pharmacies fell by 293 to 18,068 nationwide last year. That is the lowest number in around 40 years. In the first quarter of this year, the number continued to decline and reached a low of 17,939 pharmacies.

There are significantly more employees, currently around 160,000. However, this is related to more part-time work and more complex tasks due to an aging society. Overall, the Abda sees a “very serious” shortage of young people and staff.

On Pharmacy Day on Wednesday, Abda, the chambers of pharmacists and state associations, together with young professionals, are launching the “Against future theft” initiative to draw attention to what they see as the precarious situation of pharmacies. In addition, a nationwide protest day is planned for Wednesday next week, on which the pharmacies except for the emergency pharmacies should remain closed.

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