Will the pharmaceutical industry’s production chains keep pace? The risk of a shortage is real, especially in France according to the UFC-Que Choisir, at a time when, mechanically, the economy is slowed down by the reappearance of confinements in the world to stop the spread of Covid-19. The business of the pharmaceutical industry on a global scale is huge: more than $ 1,000 billion in sales. But it is a just-in-time production which is extremely delocalized. So we will see this week whether the same fears exist among our neighbors in Italy, the United Kingdom or Germany, and what is happening in India, which is a country producing drugs.
In Italy, the main fear is the lack of oxygen. Especially, the bottles which are sold in particular in pharmacies. The demand is simply greater than the supply. Individuals call their pharmacy, but so do doctors and even the Samu. The problem is that individuals tend to keep the bottles at home. Some keep them carelessly, others because they need them, and then there are those who keep them just in case.
In India, the Covid-19 epidemic remains poorly controlled and the economic slowdown is having an impact on the production of medicines while the country has become in a few years the world’s factory with China in the sector. Production in the country had to stop at the end of March during containment. Logistics then took a long time to restart. These delays of six months ago can be felt today at the end of the chain in Europe. Especially since transport has not resumed, very few planes fly again between India and France.
United Kingdom, we had planned for Brexit but not for the pandemic. The NHS, the public health service, had planned stocks of drugs in anticipation of the exit from the European Union. But there was the first wave of Covid-19 and today there is the second. The stocks have already been used in the first wave, according to NHS suppliers. Health services are worried. The government, without further clarification, affirms that it still has sufficient stocks.
In Germany, more than 300 products or active ingredients are not permanently available. The situation is less worrying than last spring with an epidemic that surprised everyone, and where there were also many more restrictions on movement at the borders. Germany is, however, known for its champions in the chemical pharmaceutical industry. But according to associations, no medicine is no longer produced in Germany. This coronavirus pandemic therefore raised a very important question of sovereignty and health security valid for Germany as well as for the entire European continent.