FIP Charges National Governments on Resolving Global Medicine Shortages 

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– Establishes antimicrobial commission

The International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) has directed national leaders and governments across the globe to, as a matter of urgency, embark on investigation and implementation of strategies to mitigate global medicine shortages, noting that doing so would enhance equitable access to medicines for their citizens.

The global pharmaceutical body made the decision at the recent FIP World Congress held virtually, urging governments to instruct medicine regulatory authorities to investigate and develop proposals on resolving the challenge.

Mr Dominique Jordan 

It further encouraged countries to develop evidence-based risk mitigation strategies, which it said, might include contingency plans, pandemic planning and capacity redundancy, appropriate to their national needs and strategic buffer stockpiles.

The recommendation, contained in a recent Statement of Policy, specifically urged governments to develop an inter-regional cooperation mechanism to define medicine shortages, based on duration of shortage, as well as health and economic impacts, from the perspective of patients.

According to the FIP’s policy statement, national leaders are to: “Create policies at an interregional level (e.g., ASEAN, EU) encouraging the production of APIs and medicines inherently and consistently reported for shortages in the region, in order to build resilience in times of public health emergencies.

“Implement measures to create a regulatory and economic framework that promotes the diversification of production of APIs, raw materials and medicines in order to improve resilience in the supply chain and guarantee that all markets, regardless of their size or resources, are able to provide equitable access to medicines for their citizens.

“Develop harmonised reporting criteria in order to guarantee interoperability of the national reporting systems on medicines shortages and data comparability, including a list of shortages and an early warning system involving all supply chain stakeholders, about existing and anticipated shortage.”

Mr Lars-Åke Söderlund, chair of FIP’s Medicines Shortages Policy Committee and president of FIP’s Community Pharmacy Section, observed that the causes of shortages are several, multidimensional and sometimes unpredictable.

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Söderlund noted that there is a growing concern among all stakeholders – patients, healthcare professionals, governmental organisations, pharmaceutical wholesalers and the pharmaceutical industry — about the future of medicines supplies worldwide.

He added: “There is evidence that shortages are worsening with time, creating ever more difficulties for healthcare professionals, and compromising patient safety. Shortages have been reported in countries of all income levels, occurring across all healthcare settings and involving essential life-saving medicines, very commonly used medicines and both high- and low-price medicines”.

Söderlund emphasised that the commitment of FIP and its member organisations, as stated in the new policy statement, is “to develop evidence-based guidelines and competency development programmes targeting pharmacists’ roles in mitigating the impact of medicines shortages.”

FIP further recommends the global use of a single definition of medicine shortages and a set of harmonised criteria to identify and monitor shortages at national, regional and international levels, to enhance understanding of the problem globally through more accurate, reliable and comparable data.

It tasked each country on establishment of a publicly accessible means of providing information on medicine shortages, as well as the development of a global process to determine the list of critical or vulnerable products.

In a similar development, the apex pharmaceutical body has also established the Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Commission to explore opportunities that will increase the impact of Pharmacy on AMR in all settings and scopes of pharmacy practice.

Inaugurated at the opening ceremony of the 2020 FIP World Congress, the commission is expected to drive a new FIP Pharmacy AMR Roadmap to guide actions globally and regionally, in consultation with members of FIP. The recommendations are to be published later this year.

The FIP CEO, Dr Catherine Duggan, also stated that the AMR Commission will concentrate on the implementation of the FIP Development Goal on Antimicrobial Stewardship, which is one of 21 Development Goals launched by FIP earlier to support the transformation of the pharmacy profession around the world.

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She further revealed that: “The FIP Pharmacy AMR Roadmap will guide actions globally, sustaining momentum and tracking and evaluating the progress of this global health priority for pharmacy.

“The FIP Development Goal on Antimicrobial Stewardship looks at the role of pharmacists, pharmaceutical scientists and pharmaceutical educators in reducing AMR.

“The new FIP Commission on Antimicrobial Resistance will facilitate the essential contribution of pharmacists to AMR action plans around the world, which include surveillance and monitoring of antimicrobial use and resistance, and antibiotics distribution and regulation.”

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