European Health Union: EU steps up action to prevent shortages of antibiotics for next winter

The Commission, the Heads of Medicines Agencies (HMA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) are today issuing recommendations for actions to avoid shortages of key antibiotics used to treat respiratory infections for European patients in the next winter season. These recommendations, which have been developed through the Executive Steering Group on Shortages and Safety of Medicinal Products (MSSG), complement the process to develop an EU list of critical medicines. In close cooperation with the EU Member States, the Commission will take operational follow-up actions, including, if necessary, possible joint procurements.

If the demand in the coming winter season is similar to an average level of consumption in previous years, the data collected suggest that supply to the EU of oral formulations of key first and second-line antibiotics for respiratory infections will match demand in the coming winter season. To be better prepared for the winter season, they agreed on the following recommendations: increase the production of key antibiotics; monitor supply and demand; and increase public awareness and prudent use.

Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said “The availability of medicines is a crucial component of a strong European Health Union. It is essential that we take action now to prepare ahead of next winter and ensure that potential shortages of antibiotic medicines are avoided. Today we are taking an important step on measures to address our immediate needs for key antibiotics, complementing the on-going process to develop an EU list of critical medicines. Operational follow-up by HERA and EMA will now follow as a matter of priority.”

In line with the European Council conclusions of June 2023, EMA, and the Commission through HERA, will continue to closely monitor demand and supply and interact with marketing authorisation holders throughout the rest of the year to detect early any unexpected shortfalls of supplies and take any necessary measures.

press release is available online.

(For more information: Tim McPhie – Tel.: +32 2 295 86 02; Célia Dejond – Tel.: +32 2 298 81 99)