The British Generic Manufacturers Association (BGMA) is in talks with the government over incentivising drugs firms to obtain active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) from more than one source in an effort to avoid future supply problems.
Warwick Smith, director general of the BGMA, told The Pharmaceutical Journal that the trade body was “intensively” discussing measures with the government that would make it easier for companies to diversify their API production.
It comes after critical care medicines — such as atracurium and cisatracurium — faced supply issues in April 2020 because of significantly increased demand from COVID-19 patients, with the Royal College of Anaesthetists forced to issue guidance that provided alternative medicines to those that were out of stock.
Smith said the demand meant that “one company with one product, [sold] what they would normally sell in 12 months in two weeks, and they only manufacture one batch a year”.
“What wasn’t appreciated at the time is that the volumes [of intensive care medicines] that are typically used are quite low,” he said, adding that this means there are “comparatively few suppliers of those medicines”.
Some manufacturers responded by halting production