- Hans Weber
- December 4, 2023
Czech Republic Aims to Revive Penicillin Production to Address Medication Shortages
Health Minister Vlastimil Válek recently discussed the possibility of reviving penicillin production in the Czech Republic to combat medication shortages that have plagued the country. Válek expressed his belief that production could commence within a year and a half, offering a potential solution to the ongoing issue.
Medication shortages, including antibiotics like penicillin, have been a growing concern in the Czech Republic. This shortage has also extended to other essential medications, such as children’s syrups and insulin. While Válek faced criticism from the opposition regarding the shortage, he pointed out that it is not unique to the Czech Republic and affects various other European countries and the United States. Válek also highlighted the uneven distribution of antibiotics among pharmacies as contributing to the problem.
To address this issue, the Ministry of Health is engaging in negotiations with license holders and locations that have available production capacities to restart penicillin production in the country. Válek expressed optimism about the ongoing negotiations with multiple license holders but refrained from providing a specific timeline for when domestically produced antibiotics could become available to Czech citizens.
Local production of essential medications like penicillin is seen as a crucial step toward addressing medication shortages. Partial self-sufficiency would significantly alleviate the problem and ensure a stable supply of essential drugs. The absence of penicillin, in particular, has raised concerns, forcing doctors to resort to other broad-spectrum antibiotics, which increases the risk of developing antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains.
In addition to discussions about penicillin production, Válek also mentioned plans to work on a legislative amendment with Member of Parliament Vít Kaňkovský from the KDU-ČSL party. This amendment aims to revert to the previous regulations regarding overtime work for doctors, canceling the recent increase. The change in overtime regulations had raised the maximum limit for voluntary overtime work from 416 to 832 hours.
Furthermore, Válek addressed the need for exceptions to maintain 24-hour shifts, a more complex issue, as the Labor Code mandates 12-hour shifts starting in October. Doctors are required to have a minimum of 11 hours of uninterrupted rest. Negotiations are underway with the European Commission to secure an exemption for 24-hour shifts, a move that could help alleviate the strain on healthcare professionals.
These developments, including the potential revival of penicillin production and proposed amendments to overtime regulations for doctors, underscore the Czech Republic’s commitment to addressing critical healthcare challenges and improving its healthcare system. These measures aim to ensure the availability of essential medications and support the well-being of medical professionals.
Article by Prague Forum