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Media And Political Bulletin – 07 April 2020

Media and Political Bulletin

07 April 2020

Media Summary

Panic buying, trade curbs cause shortages of coronavirus drugs in EU

Reuters, Francesco Guarascio, 06 April 2020

Reuters reports that hospitals in the European Union are facing shortages of critical drugs to treat COVID-19 patients because of trade restrictions and excessive stockpiling by EU governments, EU and industry officials said on Monday.

Despite several calls for solidarity, many of the 27 EU nations have resorted to protectionist measures during the coronavirus outbreak, restricting sales of essential products, such as medicines, face masks and medical devices.

“Some EU member states have indicated that they are starting to see shortages of certain medicines used for patients with COVID-19 or are expecting such shortages to occur very soon,” the European Medicines Agency said in a statement.

Shortages mostly concern drugs used for patients with the most serious complications caused by the pandemic. These include medicines used in intensive care units such as anaesthetics, antibiotics and muscle relaxants that allow patients to receive breathing support from ventilators.

Birmingham pair given suspended prison sentences for selling medicines online illegally

MHRA, 06 April 2020

The MHRA reports that a man and a woman who sold breast cancer and erectile dysfunction medicines illegally online appeared at Birmingham Crown Court.

The sentencing on Friday 3 April followed a three-year investigation by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) into the illegal sale of medicines through their website.

MHRA investigators along with officers from West Midlands Police, executed a number of search warrants in March 2017, seizing initially nearly 27,000 tablets and vials with a street value of more than £21,000.

Egle Bunkute, 31, and Edvinas Ivanauskas, 26, eventually admitted to supplying or intending to supply containing prescription only and unauthorised medicines after further investigations by the MHRA uncovered thousands of photographic records of the transactions.

This was reported on by P3 Pharmacy.

 

 

Parliamentary Coverage

There was no parliamentary coverage today.

 

Full Coverage

Panic buying, trade curbs cause shortages of coronavirus drugs in EU

Reuters, Francesco Guarascio, 06 April 2020

Hospitals in the European Union are facing shortages of critical drugs to treat COVID-19 patients because of trade restrictions and excessive stockpiling by EU governments, EU and industry officials said on Monday.

Despite several calls for solidarity, many of the 27 EU nations have resorted to protectionist measures during the coronavirus outbreak, restricting sales of essential products, such as medicines, face masks and medical devices.

“Some EU member states have indicated that they are starting to see shortages of certain medicines used for patients with COVID-19 or are expecting such shortages to occur very soon,” the European Medicines Agency said in a statement.

Shortages mostly concern drugs used for patients with the most serious complications caused by the new coronavirus infection.

These include medicines used in intensive care units such as anaesthetics, antibiotics and muscle relaxants that allow patients to receive breathing support from ventilators.

Last week a group of large European hospitals, including Milan’s San Raffaele and Barcelona’s Vall d’Hebron, said they would shortly no longer be able to treat COVID-19 patients if restrictions on drug movements were not removed.

At the beginning of the outbreak, the bloc faced delays in the delivery of medicines caused by supply disruption in China and trade bans in India, but now the main hurdles to supplies are due to EU states themselves, industry officials said.

“Countries are building up stocks. This is a reasonable approach but stocks are sometimes too big and this will deprive countries in need to get them,” said Adrian van den Hoven, director of Medicines for Europe, a trade body for the EU generic drugs industry.

He said in one case that a drug order from a state, which he did not name, covered the yearly output of a manufacturer.

“This is not rationale, and is not limited to one country,” he said.

Austria and Portugal are among EU states that are excessively stockpiling, said Kasper Ernest, secretary general of Affordable Medicines Europe, the trade body for pharmaceutical wholesalers.

TRADE CURBS

Many countries have also restricted the export of drugs that are deemed essential during the epidemic. Under some of these curbs, only when national needs are fulfilled, medicines can be exported. The restrictions hit mostly distributors.

The European Commission, the EU executive arm, is probing the legality of measures adopted by France, Poland, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia, a spokeswoman for the EU commission said on Monday, adding that trade restrictions also apply to medical gear and devices.

“In a period when we are focused on saving lives, it is not the time to restrict exports of medicines and essential medical equipment, nor to let them expire rather than share,” EU health commissioner Stella Kyriakides said.

Trade restrictions imposed by Romania are for instance currently blocking a large shipment of heart medication which was meant to reach patients in Hungary and Montenegro, Ernest said, warning that the drugs will soon expire.

Birmingham pair given suspended prison sentences for selling medicines online illegally

MHRA, 06 April 2020

A man and a woman who sold breast cancer and erectile dysfunction medicines illegally online appeared at Birmingham Crown Court.

Egle Bunkute, 31, originally from Lithuania was sentenced to 14 months’ custody suspended for two years and ordered to complete 100 hours of unpaid work in the community.

Edvinas Ivanauskas, 26, also from Lithuania was sentenced to 44 weeks’ imprisonment suspended for two years and ordered to complete 100 hours of unpaid work.

The sentencing on Friday 3 April followed a three-year investigation by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) into the illegal sale of medicines through their website.

MHRA investigators along with officers from West Midlands Police, executed a number of search warrants in March 2017, seizing initially nearly 27,000 tablets and vials with a street value of more than £21,000.

Bunkute and Ivanauskas eventually admitted to supplying or intending to supply containing prescription only and unauthorised medicines after further investigations by the MHRA uncovered thousands of photographic records of the transactions.

The medicines were sent illegally to addresses in the UK, EU, the USA, Canada and Australia. The postage costs for posting these medicines was in excess of £105,000.

Officers also found social media messages between the pair discussing the medicines and ways to avoid detection which clearly showed they knew they were involved in the illegal supply of the medicines.

The business at the centre of the illegal supply of medicines was operated through the website www.uk-rxcart.com which was shut down in 2017 by the MHRA.

The pair were selling Tadafil used for the treatment erectile dysfunction, Prolox and Dapoxetine (premature ejaculation treatments) and Nolvadex/Tamoxifen which are used to treat breast cancer.

Egle Bunkute was also sentenced for offering to supply Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin, a growth hormone and class C controlled drug.

They both pleaded guilty to the offences at earlier hearings.

Tariq Sarwar, Acting Head of MHRA Enforcement Group said:

“It is a serious criminal offence to sell prescription only medicines without a prescription and to sell unlicensed medicines, we will continue to work relentlessly with regulatory and law enforcement colleagues to identify and prosecute those involved.

“Those who sell medicines illegally are exploiting vulnerable people and have no regard for their health. Prescription-only medicines can be extremely strong and should only be taken under medical supervision as they may have potentially dangerous side effects

“Criminals selling medicines illegally show a blatant disregard for your health, and only care about making money.”

This was reported on by P3 Pharmacy.

Media And Political Bulletin – 07 April 2020

From Factory to Pharmacy

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