Improving Availability of Medicines in the EU

How to avoid shortages of medicines

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) announced on 31 October 2018 that a task force set up by EMA and the Heads of Medicines Agencies (HMA) on availability of authorised human and veterinary medicines  is organising a two-day workshop (8-9 November 2018) at EMA in London to gather stakeholders' perspectives on how to better address potential problems with the supply of medicines and how to avoid shortages of medicines.

Improving the availability of human and veterinary medicines authorised in the EU is a key priority of the European medicines regulatory network. The aim of the task force is to develop and coordinate actions for better prevention, identification, management of and communication on issues that can affect availability of medicines, in order to improve continuity of supply of human and veterinary medicines across Europe. In the context of the potential supply disruption of medicines following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, the task force serves as a platform to facilitate and coordinate actions between Member States, EMA and the European Commission.

The task force’s work programme for the coming two years was published in August 2018.

Day 1 of the workshop is a technical meeting with industry stakeholders to focus on the pharmaceutical industry’s critical role in the prevention and management of medicine shortages. Industry stakeholders are invited to give their feedback on the technical implications of some of the actions set out in the work plan of the task force in the field of human medicines and to present best practices already developed for the prevention of shortages.

Day 2 of the workshop will bring together regulators, industry representatives, healthcare professionals, patients and consumers, academia and NGOs. The purpose of this second day is to obtain the views of all stakeholders on the work of the task force and to discuss how the different stakeholder groups can contribute to the actions in the workplan. The workshop will mainly focus on human medicines; however, issues common to both human and veterinary medicines will be addressed in the context of Brexit.

The workshop is by invitation only, but day 2 will be broadcast live on EMA’s website.

The task force consists of representatives from EMA, the European Commission and national competent authorities, the chairs of the Co-ordination Groups for Mutual Recognition and Decentralised Procedures – Human and Veterinary, the GMP/GDP Inspections Working Party, the HMA Working Group of Communication Professionals and the European Surveillance Strategy Working Group.