Berlin pharmacists: “The situation is more serious than ever before”


There are few medicines, it is difficult to buy medicines for children. There are many reasons for scarcity, most of which are related to money. Report from the base in Berlin.

A look at the pharmacy: there is currently a shortage of many medicines, especially medicines for children.

A look at the pharmacy: there is currently a shortage of many medicines, especially medicines for children. image / Westend61

The record is deleted. Fortunately, because it was life-threatening, even if only phrased as a question on an internet forum. “Is it true,” one mother wanted to know, “that you can mix paracetamol fever juice and lemonade yourself?” The amounts were given in milligrams and milliliters, and the response was a storm of outrage. The woman wrote: “Take your hands off!” And the post disappeared.

Medicines are scarce in Germany, and the barrier is especially obvious for children. It has been common for many years that preparations from certain manufacturers are not available in the meantime. Perhaps that is why the Federal Institute for Medicines and Medicines (BfArM) regularly reacts to the situation. About 100,000 medicinal products have been approved in Germany, and the authority claims to have received about 300 reports of delivery bottlenecks. It indicates alternatives. “A delivery barrier”, writes the BfArM, “must not be a supply barrier at the same time”.

Many parents see things differently, as the base report shows. “They are very worried and upset when the product they are used to is not available,” says Steffen Reinholz. He is a pharmacist and is one of the greatest from around 750 pharmacies in Berlin working; it is located in Vetuvės and has three branches. “Right now we’re operating in a permanent state of emergency,” says Reinholz. He cautions against storming and hoarding offices and pharmacies, thereby exacerbating the problem. “The situation is more serious than ever, but we still have solutions.” Even if it’s not always easy.

Wholesaler portals are overcrowded, if there are more than 18,000 pharmacies in the country get to it. More and more often they go empty-handed. “It’s a particularly difficult situation with fever and pain medication in children, regardless of the dosage form, be it juice or suppositories,” says Reinholz. “Meanwhile, the antibiotic juice is starting to run out.” In the past, he could reserve supplies when they became available again. Meanwhile, the principle often applies: first come, first served.

Delivery deadlines for medicines are constantly postponed

“I’m seeing if I can order larger quantities of certain drugs just to be safe,” says the pharmacist. But he can no longer plan. Delivery dates are constantly pushed back, even if they are months in advance. The pharmaceutical company has so-called winter stocks for all pharmacies this year deleted without replacing almost all cold medicines. “It feels like a super meltdown.”

Reinholz still has an advantage over some of his peers because, as a high-volume pharmacy employee, he can order from manufacturers himself because they have minimum quantities for direct orders. “This is not possible for many small neighborhood pharmacies. They don’t reach that level if only because they don’t have the capital reserves.

Reinholz recently managed to obtain Infectomox juice, a broad-spectrum antibiotic. Now improvisation will be required. “The juices come in different strengths, for babies, for older kids.” He only got one of those strengths. Therefore, Reinholz must explain to parents that he has the prescribed product in stock, but the dosage must be different from the one the doctor wrote on the prescription. “I will adjust the dose accordingly. I give parents of small children a syringe so they can dose correctly.

The situation is dangerous not only with regard to medicines intended for children. “Essentially, all groups of active ingredients are affected by a deficiency,” says Reinholz. It is particularly tight with antibiotics (cotrimoxazole, sultamicillin, penicillin, amoxicillin and clavulanic acid). Medicines for blood pressure (bisoprolol, candesartan), cholesterol-lowering medicines (rosuvastatin), medicines affecting the digestive tract (butylscopolamine and electrolyte mixtures), but also simple medicines for colds (codeine, acetylcysteine, ambroxol, nasal sprays) are also few. – There are also problems with heart medications.

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