The European Medicine Agency (EMA) has warned that the continent could be facing shortages of medicines to treat symptoms of the Wuhan coronavirus.
The EMA warning came Monday in a press release in which the Amsterdam-based agency stated: “The continued availability of medicines, especially those used for patients with COVID-19, is a major concern.”
Shortages of drugs, such as sedatives used in the intubation process for severe cases and antimalarial drugs, are likely in the near future, with the EMA stating that such shortages could happen “very soon”.
To combat potential shortages in supply, the EMA has directed all pharmaceutical companies to report to them directly so that the agency can act as a link between the pharmaceutical industry and the European Union, Le Figaro reports.
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Both Spain and France have reported a surge in demand for drugs, with the Spanish Agency of Medicines and Medical Products (AEMPS) stating a particular need for sedatives for intubation procedures.
Alarms have also been raised for drugs such as chloroquine, which has been touted by some as an effective remedy for severe coronavirus cases. The drug is also used to treat malaria, and some fear that demand could affect malaria patients.
Shortages due to the coronavirus have been reported in recent in weeks in countries including the UK where doctors and nurses have claimed to have been threatened by the National Health Service (NHS) for speaking up about the subject.
President of the Doctors’ Association UK (DAUK), Dr Samantha Batt Rawden, stated: “Doctors across the frontlines are extremely concerned about the lack of personal protective equipment [PPE]. Many have told us they have tried to raise concerns through the proper channels but have been warned against taking these concerns further.”
In Italy, which has been the epicentre of the virus in Europe, 57-year-old doctor Marcello Natali died as a result of coronavirus and was forced to treat patients without gloves due to shortages in medical equipment.