The scarcity of medicines is a health threat in the EU leading to the postponement or cancellation of treatments, medicine adverse reactions or higher treatment costs for citizens and health systems.
The reasons behind shortages are multifactorial and include different stakeholders.
These constrains were more evident during the COVID-19 pandemic which placed significant pressure on the medicines supply chain, leading to a significant increased demand and supply shortages of critical medicines, such as the ones used in the Intensive Care Units.
EU Member States and EU institutions were forced to set up ad hoc units and/or initiatives, highlighting the need for stronger coordination of concurrent activities, and a harmonisation of the approaches between and among Member States.
Additionally, the 2021 European Commission study on medicine shortages highlighted the need for greater coordination and harmonisation in the field of shortage prevention and mitigation across the EU and regulation EU 2022/123 reinforced the role of the European Medicines Agency in crisis preparedness and management of medicinal products and medical devices.
The Joint Action
CHESSMEN (Coordination and Harmonisation of the Existing Systems against Shortages of Medicines – European Network) aims to support European Member States to provide a harmonized response to mitigate medicines shortages and to contribute to an appropriate and timely availability of medicinal products.
The project has officially started on January 16th 2023 and will be running for 3 years, bringing together a total of 22 countries participating as beneficiaries (21 EU Member States and 1 EEA country) and 5 entities participating as affiliated entities, under the coordination of AIFA – The Italian Medicines Agency (Agenzia Italiana del Farmaco), supported by the Italian National Blood and Transplant Centers (ISS-CNS/CNT).