Will we soon run out of amoxicillin? For several weeks, this antibiotic, one of the most commonly prescribed in the French pharmacopoeia, used, among other things, in the treatment of nasopharyngitis, ear infections, bronchiolitis or even bacterial angina, has become increasingly rare behind the pharmacy counters. A finding that worries health professionals, while winter pathologies are making an early return this year.
Anxious to avoid shortages, the National Agency for the Safety of Medicines and Health Products (ANSM) has sounded the alarm: “Amoxicillin is subject to strong supply tensions in France”, she explained, Friday, November 18, specifying that the latter could last until March. The difficulties mainly concern oral solutions in vials, mainly administered to children and infants, and affect all the pharmaceutical laboratories (Sandoz, Viatris, Biogaran, etc.), which market them in France.
“There is indeed a sharp increase in demand for amoxicillin, which is difficult to meet today, despite manufacturers’ efforts to increase production capacity”, we confirm at the French Biogaran. The generics specialist sells an average of twelve million boxes of amoxicillin per year in the country, or about 28% of national consumption. Over the past year, he has seen demand for this antibiotic jump by 51%.
“40 million boxes” between January and October
The reason: the resurgence of winter infections. With confinements and social distancing measures, the latter had experienced a dizzying fall in the past two years. Faced with weak demand, the factories had then reduced the airfoil on the production lines. The decline in the wearing of masks and barrier gestures, and the reappearance of seasonal epidemics has once again caused prescriptions to soar. “This year, from January to October, the demand for amoxicillin is around 40 million boxes, while in 2020 and 2021 we were well below, more around 30 million boxes”details the Ministry of Health.
Faced with growing demand in recent months, pharmaceutical manufacturers have mobilized, but “Getting production lines back up and running takes time”, says Biogaran. Laboratories and their suppliers have also had to deal with a complicated situation between inflation, global supply difficulties for certain components and labor shortages in factories and in the delivery logistics chains.
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