Coronavirus: status of medicinal product stocks for hospitals

date: 17/04/2020

Stocks of essential medicinal products to treat COVID-19 patients in hospital are being closely monitored. There are currently solutions and alternatives for all medicinal products necessary for the treatment of COVID-19 patients in Belgium.

Medicinal products for the treatment of COVID-19 patients

Sufficient stocks of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine have been distributed for the potential treatment of 30,000 hospitalised patients. Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are antimalarial drugs and are currently being studied alongside other medicinal products to assess their effect on COVID-19. An additional quantity is available as strategic stock.

Medicinal products for intensive care

To put a patient on a ventilator, three types of medication are essential:

  • sedatives (sedation) such as propofol, midazolam, etc.
  • muscle relaxants (curares) such as rocuronium, cisatracurium, etc.
  • analgesics (opiates) such as fentanyl, sufentanil, etc.

The FAMHP is closely monitoring stocks of these medicinal products at all levels: pharmaceutical companies, wholesalers and hospital pharmacies. Hospitals will again receive deliveries of strategic stock in the coming weeks, in addition to deliveries via the regular channels. All available stocks and planned deliveries for these medicinal products will be enough to last for the next few weeks (propofol, midazolam) or even the next few months (curare, opiates).

The distribution of these medicinal products is controlled by the FAMHP on the basis of a distribution key, which takes into account the number of intensive care beds in the hospital and, more recently, their occupancy rate. This ensures optimal distribution of the medicinal products available. A certain amount is also set aside in each case to meet the needs of pharmacies open to the public to supply nursing and care homes and for palliative care.

Various measures to guarantee supply

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a shortage of these medicinal products on the market. The FAMHP has taken measures to guarantee supply since the start of the crisis:

  • an identification system has been set up for all Belgian stocks of medicinal products used to treat COVID-19 patients; 
  • the Belgian market’s regular manufacturers have been invited to increase production and speed up delivery;
  • other manufacturers have been sought out and found to obtain further supplies;
  • a supply of raw materials has been organised in order to start up local production in Belgium wherever possible;
  • stocks have been found and purchased in other European countries and around the world;
  • medicinal products for veterinary use have also been made available for human use after verifying full compatibility and safety for said use.

Thanks to a team of inspectors available seven days a week, the FAMHP has managed to resolve all the encountered issues. Our cooperation with hospital pharmacists and their professional association is particularly effective. There are currently solutions and alternatives for all medicinal products necessary for the treatment of COVID-19 patients in Belgium.

Last updated on 04/05/2020