Health Minister Plans New Penicillin Production in Czech Republic

The Czech Republic has been facing a shortage of some antibiotics, including penicillin, for several months. Credit: Freepik.

Prague, Sept 25 (CTK) – The resumption of the penicillin production in the Czech Republic is under discussion, and could start within a year or 18 months, Health Minister Vlastimil Valek (TOP 09) said yesterday during Czech Television’s Questions of Vaclav Moravec debate show.

The Czech Republic has been facing a shortage of some antibiotics, including penicillin, for several months.

The new director of the State Institute for Drug Control (SUKL), Katerina Podrazilova, has half a year to improve the availability of medicines, Valek said. She must also improve communication with doctors and pharmacists, he added.

“I firmly believe that during the next year I will be able to inform the public… that within a year, a year and a half, the production of these drugs will start here,” Valek said.

He did not elaborate, saying he would like first to inform the prime minister and the government about the possible success of the negotiations. “The Health Ministry and I personally will do the utmost to get penicillin production into the Czech Republic,” he added.

Penicillin had been produced in the Czech Republic in Roztoky near Prague and Dolni Mecholupy in Prague from the 1940s, but production was phased out. Currently, antibiotics are supplied to the Czech Republic by companies from Slovakia, Slovenia, Austria and Germany.

Valek said he was considering restarting domestic production in the Czech Republic as a solution to the unavailability of medicines. Another solution is to facilitate the easier imports of medicines from other European countries, which occurred last December. More than 150,000 packages have been imported since then, the minister noted.

More than 7 million packages of antibiotics in tablets were consumed in the Czech Republic last year, according to SUKL data. More competition between the firms producing the same medicine is also needed to meet this demand, according to Valek.

Zdenek Mrozek, vice-president of the Czech Medical Chamber, said doctors should be better informed about drug shortages. In his opinion, a doctor should be able to see which pharmacy has which medicines available. “It would be ideal if I could book the medicine for the patient at the pharmacy,” he added.

According to representatives of pharmaceutical manufacturers, full self-sufficiency for the Czech Republic or Europe in drug production is not realistic. They discussed this at a conference of the Union of Employers’ Associations in Prague on Friday.

Currently, two-thirds of active substances and 40% of finished drugs are produced outside Europe and the US, said Zdenek Blahuta, executive director of the European Federation of Pharmacy Networks and former director of SUKL.

The production of some essential chemicals needed for medicines is not possible in the EU for environmental reasons.

Podrazilova took up the post of the SUKL director on Thursday, replacing Irena Storova, who headed the authority for five years. According to Valek, the new director has a six-month probationary period to initiate the necessary changes. “If that fails, a new selection procedure will be started,” he said.


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