The president of the Union of syndicates of pharmacists notes “a tension of supply which today is transformed into shortage, essentially on the pediatric forms of Doliprane and paracetamol”.
In the midst of the bronchiolitis and flu epidemics and as the ninth wave of Covid-19 begins to hit France, Doliprane is running out. The paracetamol-based drug, prescribed for pain and fever, seems difficult to find in its pediatric form in French pharmacies. The Minister of Health had assured in November that the problem would be solved “in the coming weeks, months”. However, testimonies of worried or angry parents are multiplying on social networks and patients and health professionals continue to complain about stock shortages. Franceinfo answers three questions about the shortage of paracetamol in France.
1 Can we really talk about a shortage?
“There is a supply tension that today is turning into a shortage, mainly on the pediatric forms of Doliprane and paracetamol,” explained the president of the Union of Unions of Pharmacy (USPO), Pierre-Olivier Variot, Tuesday, December 6 on franceinfo. The representative, himself a pharmacist in Plombières-lès-Dijon (Côte-d’Or), said he had just received a box of the drug he had been waiting for 12 days.
However, the producers claim that their medicines are still available for sale. “All forms of the Doliprane range remain open to order to supply and deliver all our stakeholders – hospitals, wholesalers and pharmacists – and serve patients,” a Sanofi spokeswoman assures La Dépêche du Midi .
In October, when the French National Agency for the Safety of Medicines and Health Products (ANSM) recommended limiting the supply of paracetamol in pharmacies, the laboratories producing paracetamol had assured that there was no shortage to fear. But the Minister of Health had recognized in November “tensions on the stocks of medicine”, in the program “Le Grand Jury RTL- Le Figaro-LCI”.
2 How to explain these supply tensions?
The paracetamol laboratories explain that it is above all a problem of overconsumption. They note “a demand higher than what is usually observed”, especially on the pediatric form in syrup, “one of the most requested forms”, says Sanofi to Usine nouvelle.
The lack of paracetamol is also explained by a higher than usual consumption during the summer, due to the epidemic of Covid-19, “while we usually use the summer to replenish stocks,” said Pierre-Olivier Variot, USPO union, on franceinfo. But it still points to a production problem. “There are also social movements at Sanofi that make the trucks do not leave and can not deliver to pharmacies. And then we also have tensions on the glass bottle. We are not sufficiently supplied to be able to manufacture vials”, he continues.
3 How do doctors and pharmacists adapt?
“Unfortunately, we sometimes find ourselves tinkering, which does not go with the medical act itself,” Borhane Ferjani, a general practitioner, told France 2 . Pharmacists denounce a lack of information on supply difficulties. “Clearly, we do not manage to have clear explanations, clear and precise. With the flu coming, winter pathologies, it is a problem,” testified Jean-Philippe Brégère, president of the union of pharmacists in Charente, also on France 2 in November.
Pharmacists also have fallback solutions. We have the possibility, depending on the weight of the child, to switch to forms reserved for adults or sachets, which allows us to fill the gap,” said Pierre-Olivier Variot. We have the possibility of switching to Advil syrup or possibly Aspegic infant, if the child has no contraindication to taking this medication.
In order to face these difficulties, the health authorities issued recommendations to professionals in October. Without a prescription, pharmacists should not sell more than two boxes of paracetamol per customer. Doctors are asked to avoid prescribing to patients “who do not have an immediate need for it”, the ANSM details. The dosage of three doses per day every eight hours is preferred, “instead of four doses per day every six hours”.