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The Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) has confirmed there is no shortage of critical care medicines in Ireland, despite ongoing problems in other European countries arising from the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The Authority is working with a number of organisations, including manufacturers and wholesalers, to prevent shortages.

“Currently, there is no shortage of ICU medicines in Ireland impacting on patient treatment and care. Sufficient supplies of anaesthetics and sedatives, antibiotics, muscle relaxers and emergency drugs are in place and available to hospitals,” said a HPRA spokesperson in late May. 

“With regard to the potential future shortage of any specific medicine, this is managed through the existing medicine shortages framework to prevent the shortage from occurring where feasible or, where it does occur, to manage the impact in terms of identifying alternative treatments.  

“In the case of medicines used most often in Ireland, there are typically multiple forms and brands available from a range of sources. In the event that there are some supply issues for individual medicines, it is expected that alternative brands will be available to ensure continuity of treatment. Therefore, Ireland is unlikely to face general medicines supply issues now or in the near future as a result of any Covid-19-related issues.” 

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is working with organisations to ensure medicines shortages are kept to a minimum during the pandemic.

An i-SPOC (industry single point of contact) system, the fast-track monitoring system for crucial medicines used in the context of Covid-19, has been set up by the EMA. 

“The data collected so far through the system indicates that current or anticipated shortages of some of these medicines are mainly driven by the unexpected surge in demand and by changes in prescribing behaviours”, according to a statement from the agency. 

“EMA will keep updating the steering group on a regular basis as more data are gathered through the i-SPOC system in order for the steering group to discuss possible options for resolution of the reported shortages.”