Taking into account citizens’ concerns and signals about the purchase and availability of antibiotics (suspensions) intended for children in Latvia, the State Medicines Agency (hereinafter – the Agency) has been actively following the situation since November 14 of this year. Among other things, the Agency requires drug wholesalers to submit information on the antibiotics delivered to pharmacies the previous day every working day and follows all data on the availability of these drugs in Latvia.
From the received information, it can be concluded that antibiotic supplies to Latvia are carried out and wholesalers deliver antibiotics intended for children to pharmacies. At the same time, taking into account the seasonal effect and thus the increased demand for these drugs at the moment, we also see that there are times when the demand for antibiotics exceeds the supply volumes.
Therefore, the Agency also addresses the holders of drug registration certificates every day and issues additional permits to traders to distribute antibiotics in order to ensure the availability of drugs to patients as best as possible.
Recommendations for patients and healthcare professionals
• Judicious use of antibiotics is critical both for the patient’s own health and for maintaining antibiotic effectiveness longer and preventing antimicrobial resistance. Therefore, antibiotics, including amoxicillin, should not be used unnecessarily – that is, they should not be used to treat diseases for which they are not intended. For example, antibiotics do not help with viral infections, they work on bacteria and are designed to treat specific bacterial infections.
• The agency notes that alternative treatments are available in many cases. If the antibiotics prescribed to the patient are not available, the doctor should prescribe other antibiotics. Already during the consultation, it is possible to ask the doctor what action should be taken if it is not possible to buy certain medicines in time.
• In every situation when it is not possible to buy some medicine in time, incl. to order drugs made in a pharmacy or drugs not registered in Latvia, it is important for the patient to contact the doctor to evaluate other alternatives.
• It is also possible to prepare antibiotics for children on site at the pharmacy. We recommend asking any pharmacy about such an option. Pharmacies cooperate, and if a pharmacy does not produce medicine locally, it can ask another pharmacy to produce this medicine and thus provide the citizens with the medicine they need.
• We remind you that the “Pharmacy Map” is available on the Agency’s website, where you can easily search for the nearest pharmacy. When you need specific medicines, but you are worried about their availability, it is possible to conveniently contact the nearest pharmacy by phone. The contacts of a specific pharmacy can be easily found on the Pharmacy Map. You can search for pharmacies on the map by pharmacy name, address, city or street name. It can also be used to select, for example, only those pharmacies that are open 24 hours a day or that make medicines on site at the pharmacy. By clicking on the selected pharmacy, the exact address, phone number and other information of the pharmacy are available.
• In certain situations, it is possible to provide patients with medicines by supplying medicines as unregistered medicines in Latvia (these are medicines registered and used in another country). The doctor is aware of such a possibility and will know and advise what to do to the patient.
Information on medicines containing ibuprofen and paracetamol
Due to seasonal effects and increased demand, there are sometimes temporary unavailability of medicines with a specific name. However, the State Medicines Agency calls you to remember that for symptomatic treatment against pain, increased temperature and inflammation, analog drugs (ie drugs with a different name or a different active substance) can often be used. For example, you can choose paracetamol instead of ibuprofen. Also, if there is no medicine available in a specific form, it is possible to find a solution using another form of medicine (for example, suppositories can be used instead of suspension for children).
More information on the reasons for drug supply interruptions:
Explaining the situation, we inform you that drug supply interruptions occur for various reasons, including production delays, production capacity problems (lack of personnel and packaging materials), as well as increased demand. Antibiotic manufacturers have mostly indicated that they are currently facing production complications and increased demand for antibiotics. Unfortunately, even the largest European countries face interruptions in the availability of antibiotics and, like Latvia, Europe-wide efforts are being made to find solutions to this situation.