Medication Shortage in the Czech Republic: Is the Government to Blame?

Patients in the Czech Republic have been struggling to access commonly available medicines for several months. Some medicines are completely out of stock, and pharmacists and doctors agree that they have not witnessed such a shortage before. The criticism is mainly directed at the Ministry of Health. Is this criticism deserved?

The shortage of medicines in the Czech Republic has persisted for months, and hundreds of drugs are still missing from the market. These drugs range from antibiotics to specific medications, such as Litaril, taken by oncology patients with leukemia. The shortage of this drug can endanger the lives of patients.

The Minister of Health, Vlastimil Válek (TOP 09), promises that things will soon improve, thanks partly to warmer weather that could alleviate respiratory disease epidemics. However, he also places much of the blame on manufacturers. “I would highlight the poor planning by manufacturers. They did not anticipate the consumption of the past months and were unable to increase production according to needs,” said Válek last week in a parliamentary committee.

According to commentator Martin Čaban, who specializes in healthcare and politics, global supply chains have been disrupted. Asian factories did not produce effective ingredients due to disruptions caused by the pandemic, and the war in Ukraine has also paralyzed the production of drug packaging.

Válek is trying to address the problem by importing drugs from abroad and lifting administrative barriers. This is the correct approach, according to Čaban. However, the minister’s long-term problem lies in communicating with the public. “I cannot entirely agree with the voices from the opposition, which criticize Válek for doing nothing. I don’t think that’s the case. But the problem is with communication: his promises to resolve the issue in a few weeks, which we’ve heard since last October,” Čaban describes.