India and China produce 80% of the pharmaceutical drugs sold in the Netherlands. Because these factories are now closed due to the coronavirus outbreak, there might be a potential shortage.
Factories in China have been closed for weeks, and due to the lockdown in India, production has come to a standstill. This creates a scarcity of products. The shortage of pharmaceutical drugs in the Netherlands might potentially last years, according to RTL Nieuws.
The shortage could potentially last years
How long the shortage will last depends entirely on how long the coronavirus crisis lasts, says Ludwig Castelijns, the director of the medicine wholesaler Mosadex.
Any impact on the normal production chain means that overtime hours will be required from those working in the industry to make up for the lost time, but given the current crisis, that may not happen anytime soon.
The dependence of the Netherlands on imports of pharmaceuticals is not a new problem, and experts have expressed concern over this issue in the past couple of years.
Precedent in 2017
A similar situation happened back in 2017 when 1500 Chinese factories had to close due to air pollution.
The situation caused a severe shortage of tuberculosis medicine, and the World Health Organization even requested that the factories open again.
The Minister of Health at the time, Bruno Bruins, expressed that the Netherlands should develop an emergency stock of pharmaceuticals for these kinds of situations back in 2018, but the plans were unfortunately never realised. The price tag of the project at that time was €50 million.
Now, with the current crisis, the price tag would be substantially higher.
Risk of deaths that are normally preventable
The current shortage of pharmaceuticals means that people might die from causes that may normally be preventable.
The Ministry of Health has confirmed that it is now looking for ways to build up stock as soon as possible and a decision will be made during summer.
Follow the DutchReview Facebook page for more updates on COVID-19 in the Netherlands.
Feature Image: freestocks/Pexels