In line with today’s European Commission’s Guidelines on a European Gas Demand Reduction Plan1, Medicines for Europe urges Governments to maintain energy supply to medicines production sites in the event of energy restrictions in Europe.
Medicines for Europe members have over 400 production sites in Europe and provide 70% of dispensed medicines in the region. We have made strong progress in recent years towards recognising the importance of secure supply for critical medicines, including the role of policies to promote more domestic production. Hundreds of pharmaceutical manufacturing sites operating in Europe now need special prioritisation in the event of energy shortages.
Medicines for Europe took the lead during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 to work with authorities to maintain medicines production and keep supply chains open through green lane and safe production policies. We need to apply the same creative and constructive cooperation with authorities now to maintain medicines production when facing energy supply risks.
Many of the most critical medicines (sterile, biological substances and antibiotics) require highly specialised heating and cooling for their production and delivery to hospitals and clinics. This requires continuous supply of energy – either gas or electricity.
Medicines manufacturing cannot simply be turned off for a few days and turned back on again. Even a temporary shutdown of production would demand a huge effort and a long time for our industry to resume production due to technical challenges related to temperature control, hygiene and impurities control and compliance with good manufacturing practice (GMP) requirements. Medicine production supply chains are currently operating under huge stress due to the war in Ukraine, Covid related disruptions, logistics bottlenecks and inflation.
An energy-related shut down of production would have detrimental effects on the supply of critical medicines to patients in the EU and globally, as our industry is a global supplier of these medicines. Disruptions can also affect suppliers to our industry (e.g., glass vials and bottles) and if energy sources are interrupted, the production of the final medicine will also be impacted. Most of the ICU medicines used in critical care are in the form of vials and ampules.
Medicines for Europe is engaged with the European Commission and our members are in dialogue with national governments to assess the risks of energy rationing in all European countries, as our over 400 production sites are situated in almost every country of the Union.
We stress the importance of recognising pharmaceutical production as an essential sector in all Member States as we are the leading providers of essential medicines for patients. It is critical going forward that we can work with authorities to maintain the continuous operation of pharmaceutical production in the context of possible future energy rationing