Minister Vlastimil Válek from the Ministry of Health discusses reviving penicillin production, which has been in short supply in the Czech Republic. In a recent televised discussion, Válek expressed his belief that production could begin within a year and a half.
The shortage of certain medications, such as penicillin antibiotics, syrups for children, and insulin, has been a topic of concern for months. Válek has faced criticism from the opposition for this issue. Still, he argues that it is not unique to the Czech Republic and that shortages also occur in other European countries and the United States. He also mentioned the uneven distribution of antibiotics among pharmacies as a contributing factor.
The Ministry primarily negotiates with license holders and locations with available production capacities to restore penicillin production. Válek expressed optimism about the ongoing negotiations with multiple license holders. However, he refrained from speculating on when Czech citizens could use domestically produced antibiotics, particularly during autumn when respiratory illnesses are prevalent.
Ensuring local production in the Czech Republic is seen as a solution to address the issue of medication shortages. Partial self-sufficiency would greatly alleviate the problem. Penicillin, in particular, has been a significant concern due to its prolonged absence. According to Iveta Štefanová, a member of the SPD party, doctors have had to resort to using other broad-spectrum antibiotics, which increases the risk of developing resistant bacterial strains.
In addition to the discussion on penicillin production, Válek also mentioned his plans to work on a legislative amendment with Member of Parliament Vít Kaňkovský from the KDU-ČSL party. This amendment aims to cancel the recent increase in overtime work for doctors and return to the previous regulations. Válek confirmed that this change is also being discussed with Minister of Labor Marian Jurečka. The amendment proposed by Kaňkovský included raising the maximum limit for voluntary overtime work from 416 to 832 hours.
Válek also mentioned the need for exceptions to maintain 24-hour shifts, as it poses a more significant challenge. According to the Labor Code, hospitals can only schedule 12-hour shifts starting in October, with doctors requiring a minimum of 11 hours of uninterrupted rest. Prime Minister Petr Fiala has confirmed that the Czech Republic is negotiating with the European Commission regarding an exemption for 24-hour shifts.
This potential revival of penicillin production and the proposed amendment to overtime regulations for doctors are significant developments in the Czech Republic’s healthcare sector. They address crucial issues related to medication shortages and the well-being of medical professionals, contributing to the overall improvement of the healthcare system.