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Drug availability problems still on the rise

Reports of trouble accessing pharmaceuticals have grown tenfold in less than a decade.

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There is now plenty of letrozole available, but other drugs are getting harder to come by, said Fimea. Image: AOP

Problems with the accessibility and availability of pharmaceuticals have increased in recent years, according to Finnish Medicines Agency Fimea.

In 2011 less than 100 reports of poor medicine availability were filed. Last year a total of 1,213 reports were filed. Fimea is dealing with 867 unresolved availability tickets at time of writing, out of a total of 1,366 reports since January.

The growth rate of the problems is very rapid, though senior Fimea pharmaceutical inspector Johanna Linnolahti said that year-on-year comparisons should take into account the fact that Fimea began receiving availability reports based on packaging size in early October.

In the past individual reports also included a lack of availability for a drug in all of its package sizes, making it difficult to narrow down batches.

Fimea announced it would launch a search engine for the availability disruptions of medicines next year. Linnolahti expects that distribution problems will continue to increase.

"More reports have already come in this year compared to all of 2018. It looks like the problems aren't going away," she said.

Problems with the availability of a breast cancer medication called letrozole caused alarm earlier in the autumn. The situation improved in late September, and Fimea announced on Wednesday that the amount of medicine available now once again meets the needs of breast cancer patients.

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