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Essential Medicines Shortage: The New Call to Action

A COLLECTIVE Call to Action has been issued to the European Union (EU) by the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) and endorsed by the European Hematology Association (EHA) on the subject of essential and inexpensive medicine shortages across Europe. These shortages have a direct impact on patient care and require a concerted effort to address and resolve.

The cause of the shortage is multi-faceted and complex. Depending on the medicine in question, this could be related to quality or manufacturing issues, the low profitability of inexpensive medicines, and poor reporting mechanisms, and of course can be a combination of any of these.

It is the goal of the EHA and ESMO to keep this issue as high up as possible on the EU agenda in order to reduce the consequences of an extended shortage of these medicines. This is important for the fields of both haematology and oncology not only with regard to patient care but also the potential financial impact on European healthcare systems across the board. The document calls for an EU-level strategic approach, including the standardisation of EU definitions and data requirements in order to more accurately record the shortages in question. The first action point will be an EU-wide study to evaluate the impact of the shortages on public health, healthcare systems, and EU economies.

The Call to Action is the start of a collaboration between EHA, ESMO, and a number of other organisations committed to ensuring the continued and reliable access to low-cost medication for patients across Europe. The next step is for them to engage as a group with the European Commission, European Parliament, and its Member States.