EU Firms Urge Gov'ts To Create Medicine Reserves In Case Of COVID-19 2nd Wave- Association

GENOA (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 26th May, 2020) ENOA, Italy, May 26 (Sputnik), Anastasia Levchenko - European pharmaceutical manufacturers have urged governments to create reserves of vital medicines ahead of a predicted second wave of the coronavirus disease as stocks have depleted over the past months, although these calls have so far been ignored, Medicines for Europe Director GENOA (Pakistan Point news / Sputnik - 26th May, 2020) eneral Adrian van den Hoven told Sputnik in an interview.

"We are very concerned ... We are very publicly asking the European Commission and all of the countries to plan for the second wave. We hope it does not happen, we hope that the measures of social distancing work and are successful, but we cannot count 100 percent on that. We are asking governments to stockpile, to buy reserves of the medicines for intensive care units (ICU)," van den Hoven, who heads the alliance representing Europe's generic and biosimilar pharmaceutical industries, said.

According to the association chief, many of the medicines that are being used in ICUs are only produced when there is a specific demand, and reserves have been depleted as health care professionals worked to treat patients during the first wave of the pandemic.

"There a difficulty to produce ICU medicines if there is no clear demand because we have depleted our reserves to make enough for the first wave. So now if we want to make a second wave, we have to build up our reserves again and then start manufacturing," van den Hoven stated.

Building the stockpile would take at least three months, according to the Medicines for Europe director general, so there is an urgent need to start as soon as possible.

"We would like to see very concrete engagements, but right now, governments are not planning it in Europe ... I think the problem is that we were too successful in the first wave. So the governments say, well, the industry can handle it, it worked well, you produced enough, so we do not have to plan for the second wave, you will just produce it again," van den Hoven said.

However, the association chief warned that many European countries may be unprepared for a second wave of the outbreak.

"But that is a mistake because we have produced enough in the first wave by using all of our backup reserves. Now we do not have any reserves anymore. If we want to replenish, we need to make a big investment and we need to shift the production to that investment," van den Hoven remarked.

Such an investment would be a significant burden on state budgets that have already been strained because of the lockdown measures. However, pharmaceutical firms cannot begin replenishing stocks without a clear request from governments and a signal of how much they need.

"We are going to make our own calculation of what a second wave could look like based on three scenarios, a low scenario, a medium, and a high scenario. And we will give it to the governments and ask them to pick a scenario and plan for it. But that's all we can do, we cannot force the governments to plan," van den Hoven said.

The director general noted that the second wave of the COVID-19 outbreak is very likely to take place as Europe begins opening its borders for tourism, which is expected at the back end of the upcoming summer.

The European Union has begun work to establish a common reserve of medical equipment on the continent that could be distributed to member states that need it. The initiative, called the rescEU stockpile, will contain ventilators and protective masks among other supplies.