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FIP launches report of international summit on medicines shortages

Dublin, 3rd September 2013.- Medicines shortage have become a complex global problem, creating ever more difficulties for healthcare professionals, and compromising patient safety.  There is evidence that these shortages are worsening with time; in some countries medicine shortages tripled between 2005 and 2010. In light of this growing concern and its future implications, delegates from around the world gathered in Toronto in June 2013 to attend the first-ever International Summit on Medicines Shortages hosted by the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP), and co-hosted by the Canadian Pharmacists Association.  The purpose of the Summit was to provide a forum to discuss the causes and contributing factors, impacts, and solutions to the global issue of medicines shortages through a multi-stakeholder approach involving representatives from governments, healthcare practitioners and professional bodies, industry, and patients.


This Summit gathered evidence that the characteristics of medicines shortages vary greatly from country to country. The causes and contributing factors to medicines shortages is multidimensional, and can best be examined by addressing the issue from the both the demand side (predictability of fluctuating demands both at national and international level, procurement practices), as well as the supply side (manufacturing incidents, regulatory activities impacting manufacturing, bottle-neck steps or single manufacturers, globalisation of manufacturing…).


Founded on this analysis, the Summit offered a number of recommendations and ideas for stakeholders to consider on how to reduce the occurrences of and reduce the impact of medicine shortages:

Establish a publicly accessible means of providing information on medicines shortages (causes, expected resolution date, possible alternatives…);

Develop a list of critical or vulnerable products aiming at identifying the products requiring more attention when discussion on medicine shortages is held and actions are thought ;

Institute an active procurement process taking into account and promoting the continuity of supply of quality medicines;

Modify regulatory practices to remove unnecessary variability of regulatory practices (between countries) and improve transparency;

Establish or appoint a national body in charge of gathering and sharing information regarding medicines demand, supply and shortages and providing guidance;

Develop evidence-based risk mitigation strategies which may include: stockpiles, contingency plans, pandemic planning, etc.


The report of the Summit offering a unique and new view on the issue of medicine shortage has been released at the 73rd FIP Congress of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences in Dublin, Ireland, and is available here.


“This Summit has provided a unique opportunity to bring together stakeholders from around the world to address an issue of top concern amongst pharmacists and patients,” stated Dr. Michel Buchmann, President of the International Pharmaceutical Federation.  “FIP will disseminate the ideas and recommendations and advocate that they will be acted upon swiftly in order to address this multinational health crisis.”