INFARMED investigates drug shortages in Portugal

May 2, 2013 | By Márcio Barra

INFARMED, in its still ongoing investigations on exportation of medicines in Portugal, found the existence of illegal exportation of medicines in Portugal, revealed the national competent authority to Agência Lusa.

In its investigation, INFARMED uncovered that some of the shortages of medicines in pharmacies are due to direct exportation by distributers for outside markets. In some cases, distributors buy directly from pharmacies in order to export, a legal non-compliance.

“In some cases, a distributor in a given moment wouldn’t fulfill pharmacies requests for drugs, and would instead export them, according to drug movement registries,” stated INFARMED.  In short, distributors would deny providing some drugs to pharmacies to instead sell them in intra-community markets.

In response, INFARMED is proposing a change in the legislation to ensure that the national supply of essential medicines that are being targeted for export or distribution can be safeguarded.  This would entail the creation of a list of essential drugs currently in shortage in the national market, and making obligatory for wholesale distributors to notify the export of these drugs.

Then, within three days, Infarmed has to decide on the supply state of the drug in Portugal, prohibiting the exportation of those that are missing in the national market.

This change in legislation is expected to be implemented, according to Eurico Castro Alves, President of INFARMED, in two to three months.

Between 2011 and 2012, INFARMED conducted 230 inspections to various players in the Portuguese medicines market chain. 76 of those inspections were targeted to pharmacies and distributors suspect of conducting exportations without fulfilling the obligations of supplying the national market.

Also, it seems that the drug shortages in Portugal are lessening, as INFARMED is reporting that the “notifications of shortages ​​by pharmacies, in particular, decreased, on average, 50% since February, as well as the number of pharmacies that notify shortages . Patient notification of shortages also decreased. “This decrease, according to INFARMED, could be attributed to the notifying systems that were created and communication of inspections through the media, which may have lead to greater attention and care in supplying the market.

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