France races to boost supplies of critical medications


PARIS (Reuters) – The French government is racing to try to ensure it can produce or procure itself certain medications as stocks run low due to the coronavirus outbreak, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said on Thursday.
Philippe told France’s TF1 TV that some molecules or drug components were in short supply, echoing concerns across Europe as the pandemic places a huge strain on hospitals in Italy, Spain and elsewhere.
“Because this is happening all over the world and at the same moment, the consumption of products needed for resuscitation is exploding in a way no-one could have imagined,” Philippe said. He did not name specific medications.
The government had reached out to industrial groups to check on production levels and to try and identify any supply chain bottlenecks, he added.
“The tension and anxiety felt by doctors (around shortages) are very real,” Philippe said. “We’re fighting hour after hour to make sure we can respond to this unbelievable, unheard of increase in consumption.”
Doctors in France have said levels of morphine and antibiotics, among other drugs, are running alarmingly low.
European Union countries would have access to the medicines they needed to care for coronavirus sufferers, the bloc’s industry chief Thierry Breton said on Thursday, adding pharmaceutical companies were doubling production to address shortages.
The chief executive of French drugmaker Sanofi told Reuters earlier on Thursday that the firm was manufacturing at over 93% capacity during the pandemic and overproducing to try and address supply problems.
(Reporting by Marine Pennetier and Sarah White; Editing by Stephen Coates)
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