February 18, 2020

DECOUPLING: Europe braces for coronavirus-induced drug shortages.

While Europe is one of the world’s top manufacturers of drugs, the raw ingredients often come from China or India. This dependence on Asia was already a source of alarm at the EU’s highest political levels, with shortages and impurities prompting calls for action in both Brussels and national capitals.

Now the coronavirus, which is shutting down factories in China and preventing authorities from making sure plants are up to snuff, is on track to exacerbate existing shortages.

“We have seen there might be a possibility [of the] risk of shortages of supplies due to the coronavirus,” said German Health Minister Jens Spahn at an emergency meeting with his EU counterparts in Brussels Thursday. “We know many active ingredients are made in China, particularly in Hubei province.”

Hugh Hewitt tweeted: “So, there’s great risk in relying on PRC manufacturing, great risk in regulatory complexity and inflexibility, and great risk in prioritizing lowest cost in health care. In short, EU countries are in a bad place re drug supply.”

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