According to a survey, many people in Germany fear shortages of medicines. A total of 38 percent of those surveyed rate the risk of delivery bottlenecks as “very high” or “rather high”, according to a new study by the Federal Association of Drug Manufacturers (BAH), which is available to the German Press Agency.

On the other hand, a third of the participants consider the risk to be “low” or “very low,” according to the representative survey, in which people took part in the autumn of 2000.

In particular, people between the ages of 50 and 69 assessed the risk of supply bottlenecks as high (41 percent in total) and people over 70 years of age (43 percent). Difficulties or shortages when buying medicines, however, were experienced primarily by the 30 to 49 year olds (37 percent) and fewer people over 70 (22 percent).

There have recently been delivery bottlenecks for off-patent medicines such as fever syrups for children, but also for preparations for adults such as antibiotics, cancer medicines and antihypertensives.

Among other things, chronically ill people had problems

Overall, according to the study, 30 percent of those surveyed experienced difficulties or shortages when buying medicines within twelve months. For comparison: In June 2022 it was 18 percent, according to the BAH. There, however, people do not believe that the situation has deteriorated significantly since then, but rather that the increasing media coverage has contributed to a “perceived” worsening of the supply situation.

In general, younger population groups and households with children, those in need of care or the chronically ill often experienced problems when buying medicines, the BAH explained. However, older people, the chronically ill and people who need a lot of medication, including many pensioners, are more afraid of bottlenecks, although this group did not experience problems significantly more often. Older people are often affected by serious illnesses and worry more.

New rules for supplies as a buffer

The federal government is starting in several areas in the fight against scarce medicines. According to plans by the Ministry of Health, there should be new rules for stocks as a buffer. In order to absorb short-term disruptions in the supply chain or short-term larger additional requirements, “an obligation to store goods for several months” will be introduced, according to a draft bill for a planned law.

The draft follows key points that Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) had already presented at the end of last year. They also provide for new price rules that are intended to make deliveries to Germany more economically attractive for drug manufacturers.

However, manufacturers of off-patent medicines continue to see high cost pressure on medicines. According to a survey by the Pro Generika lobby association, some of them expect to have to take medicines off the market. Manufacturers are complaining about rising costs combined with strict price regulation in Germany, so that some companies have withdrawn from the production of children’s fever juices, for example.