Netherlands to stockpile medicines to tackle serious shortages
In order to tackle and prevent medicine shortages in the Netherlands, the Dutch government has decided to stock up on medicines. This measure, announced by Minister of Health Bruno Bruins, means that manufacturers and distributors will have to build up an extra five months worth of drug supplies.
Tackling medicine shortages
By building up such a supply, the minister hopes that shortages can be prevented. Of course, this operation won’t be cheap, with health care expenditure expected to increase by 25 million euros, as manufacturers include the charges for higher reserves in the price of a drug. The minister is ok with this, as long as certain medicines don’t exceed the legal maximum price. The reserves are expected to cover 85 percent of temporary medicine shortages.
Bruins has been tackling medicine shortages for a while now, with this problem rearing its head the last few years. Parkinson’s medications, the contraceptive pill, thyroid medication, nasal cream with antibiotics, amongst other drugs, have been affected due to supply problems which are often due to production delays abroad. Bruins feels that “in a country like the Netherlands, where healthcare is of a high standard, medication should always be available.”
Whilst the building up of supplies will cost money, it will save money in the long run as pharmacists and distributors will spend less time searching for alternative medicines and more expensive replacements won’t have to be used as often. Stockpiling will start in 2020. Minister Bruins is going to talk to health insurers, wholesalers, pharmacists and drug companies about the financial aspect of increasing medicine reserves.
Last year, the government saved 272 million euros by haggling when it came to the price of expensive, new medicines for things like cystic fibrosis, spinal muscular atrophy and Pompe disease, amongst others. This is double what they saved in 2017. In total, they negotiated the rate of 30 medicines, five more than in 2017.
Health insurance in the Netherlands
Speaking of medicines, to get prescription medicines from your pharmacist, you’ll, of course, need to have seen your GP and valid health insurance is handy as well. That applies to students too as, even if you are staying temporarily, taking out health insurance is compulsory if you get a job. On a side note, you have until the end of the year to change insurer and packages, so make sure you check out a health insurance comparison website to make sure you are still getting the best deal.