The federal agency for medicines and health products (FAMHP) has taken steps to prevent the export of certain important medications to countries outside the European Economic Area, in order to prevent shortages in times of the new coronavirus (Covid-19).
The European Economic Area comprises the member states of the European Union plus three members of the European Free Trade Association: Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway. The UK remains a member for this purpose until 2021.
The agency has drawn up a list of drugs or raw materials which have been shown promise in the treatment of Covid-19, including chloroquine phosphate and hydroxychloroquine.
The drugs have shown encouraging results, the agency says. They also cannot be replaced by other drugs, and even outside the realm of coronavirus, supplies have to be ensured for those chronic patients who were being prescribed those and other drugs for different conditions.
In general, products on the agency list can only be delivered in Belgium to hospitals, pharmacies and traders who are based in Belgium, and to the federal public health ministry in connection with the creation of a strategic stock.
The products can be delivered to countries in the EEA, as long as the agency is informed in advance, and the products are to be used within the EEA and not sold on to other countries.
“In order to avoid excessive orders and an ineffective spread of stocks, traders must limit sales of the drugs and raw materials on the list to quantities that correspond to sales in the same period last year, increased by a maximum of 50%,” the agency said. Exceptions to the rule may be requested in writing.
Finally, pharmacies and hospitals which are holding stocks exceeding one month of sales of any of the products on the list should notify the agency of the surplus, to allow a possible redistribution if required.