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Over 400 prescription medicines unavailable in Belgium

Belgian health professionals warn that drug shortages pose serious public health risks. Credit: Pixabay

Belgian pharmacies are facing increased medicine shortages even though a new law was passed to prevent them.

459 medicines are unavailable in Belgian pharmacies. This past November, 410 were unavailable.

The Federal Agency for Medicines and Health Products (FAMHP) said recently that there will be a major shortage of an intravenous antibiotic this year, and the Imelda Hospital in Bonheiden is out of alendronate, an osteoporosis drug, according to Het Nieuwsblad.

“There is a great lack of clarity and a need for guidelines for alternatives,” Michaël Laurent, a specialist at the hospital told Het Nieuwsblad. “Just stopping the medication is not a good idea for most patients.”

Some of the medicines that are unavailable have alternatives, but those may not work for everyone. Switching medications may have serious consequences for some patients, Lieven Zwaenepoel, Belgian pharmacy association spokesperson, told Het Nieuwsblad.

New laws have been passed to try to prevent these drug shortages. One measure forces drug wholesalers to give priority to Belgians instead of a foreign market that may pay more.

“For the time being, it doesn’t really help. Instead of improvement, the situation is only getting worse,” Zwaenepoel said to Het Nieuwsblad.

Sam Nelson
The Brussels Times

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