Drug Alert: "A real danger for Europe"

By Alois Vahrner

Kundl / Schaftenau – Pharmaceutical production has been increasingly delocalised in China and other Asian countries for years. Recently, there have been more and more reports of bottlenecks in supply and warnings in Tyrol by top health professionals regarding quality issues and safety issues. Supply down, especially for antibiotics.

In times of global trade conflicts, as is currently happening between the United States and China, political cohesion would be needed in Europe, said Novartis Austria President Michael Kocher and Foreign Affairs Chief Wolfgang Andiel, compared at TT. A reliance on Asia, where huge sums are used to put considerable pressure on prices, is ultimately a "real danger" for health care. And, according to Andiel, it is objectively true that "more gaps and bottlenecks occur". Every day that goes unused here is a day lost and can further amplify the problem, warns Kocher, observing passively. It is not protectionism, but framework conditions to ensure the security of Europe's supply with drugs that meet the highest standards of quality and safety.

In the case of pharmaceutical raw materials, China's dependence is already very strong, according to Kocher. He expects that in the coming years, Indian manufacturers will still get a "second massive wave" for finished drugs. Huge capabilities in Asia would increasingly remove their competitors from the market, creating "fast monopolies" and therefore supply dependence. Intra-European parallel trade also increases the risk of bottlenecks, especially in countries where prices are particularly low. Austria is in the middle of the field here and has not been completely affected by the intensification of the problem of bottlenecks, says Andiel. It should also be noted that already about 40% of the remedies delivered are cheaper than prescription costs (6.10 euros) and that the patient must bear the full costs.

In Kundl, antibiotics have been produced since 1947 by the biochemistry of the time (today Novartis / Sandoz). The two production sites in Kundl and Schaftenau employ more than 4,000 people. Massive investments are being made in the area of ​​biologics, for example, and antibiotics have focused on a number of important products with significant amounts, says Kocher. In any case, the goal is to become even more effective here in the future.