Medicines disappearing fast from chemists’ shelves

Medicines are disappearing from dispensing chemists’ shelves at an increasing rate of knots, according to research carried out by the Algemeen Handelsblad newspaper.

The paper says patients are increasingly unable to get the medicine they need because these are no longer available or are temporarily out of stock. Alternatives are impossible or difficult to find.

The AD basis its conclusions on information from the chemists’ organisation KNMP.

The number of medicines that have been discontinued has doubled since 2004. These include antibiotics, eye drops and cancer treatments, says the AD. Dispensing chemists and medical specialists are now sounding the alarm.

Generic drugs

The problem has increased five-fold since 2008 when health insurers began refusing to pay for anything other than the cheapest and generic medicines. According to the AD, these medicines are unavailable in 200,000 cases a week. 

And because insurers will not pay for dearer alternatives, these are also not in stock, says the paper.

This is not the first time the KNMP has issued a warning. Last month, the organisation said Digoxine, used to treat heart patients, is no longer available. Suddenly stopping with the treatment is life-threatening to patients, but this pill can be replaced with a drink or an injection with the same effect.

Nos television said health minister Edith Schippers is concerned about disappearing drugs and plans to take steps to ensure proper supplies.

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