- Hans Weber
- December 6, 2023
Czech Republic Explores Resuming Penicillin Production Amid Antibiotic Shortage
he Czech Republic is actively considering the resumption of penicillin production within the country, with discussions in progress, and the potential to initiate production within a year or 18 months, according to Health Minister Vlastimil Valek. This announcement comes as the Czech Republic faces a shortage of certain antibiotics, including penicillin, which has persisted for several months.
Valek revealed this development during a debate on Czech Television’s “Questions of Vaclav Moravec” show. He expressed confidence that significant progress could be made in improving antibiotic availability within the next year to a year and a half, although he refrained from providing detailed specifics at this stage. Valek emphasized that he first intends to inform the prime minister and the government about the progress of negotiations.
Historically, the Czech Republic had been a hub for penicillin production, with facilities in Roztoky near Prague and Dolni Mecholupy in Prague manufacturing the antibiotic since the 1940s. However, domestic production was phased out, and currently, the Czech Republic relies on antibiotic supplies from companies based in Slovakia, Slovenia, Austria, and Germany.
To address the antibiotic shortage issue, Valek is exploring two main avenues. The first is the revival of domestic penicillin production, and the second involves facilitating easier imports of medicines from other European countries. In December, measures were implemented to streamline imports, resulting in over 150,000 packages of medicines being imported to the Czech Republic.
Last year, the Czech Republic consumed more than 7 million packages of antibiotic tablets, according to data from the State Institute for Drug Control (SUKL). Valek stressed the need for increased competition among firms producing the same medicines to meet the high demand for antibiotics.
Zdenek Mrozek, the vice-president of the Czech Medical Chamber, underscored the importance of better informing doctors about drug shortages. He advocated for a system that allows doctors to identify which pharmacies have specific medicines in stock and, ideally, to reserve those medicines for patients.
Despite these efforts, representatives of pharmaceutical manufacturers argued that full self-sufficiency in drug production for the Czech Republic or Europe is not a realistic goal. During a conference of the Union of Employers’ Associations in Prague, it was highlighted that currently, two-thirds of active pharmaceutical ingredients and 40% of finished drugs are produced outside Europe and the United States.
Zdenek Blahuta, the executive director of the European Federation of Pharmacy Networks and former director of SUKL, pointed out that certain essential chemicals required for drug manufacturing cannot be produced within the European Union due to environmental reasons.
The recent appointment of Katerina Podrazilova as the new director of SUKL brings renewed hope for improving medicine availability. She has been given a six-month probationary period to initiate necessary changes in the institution’s operations. If these efforts do not yield desired results, a new selection procedure for leadership will be initiated, as stated by Minister Valek.
Article by Prague Forum