Malta has received a shipment of HIV medicine today, effectively putting an end to the national stock shortage, the Health Ministry confirmed to Lovin Malta.
Mater Dei Hospital is now in a position to give stock to all HIV patients that are entitled and due, a spokesperson told this newsroom.
The shipment, which arrived from the UK and Portugal, was made possible following interventions by the Central Processing Supply Unit, to resolve multiple issues which arose during importation to Malta.
The UK’s withdrawal from the European Union has presented several hurdles, especially for countries like Malta, Ireland and Cyprus, which are linked to its pharmaceutical market.
“Despite the attempts of these Member States to source their products through other markets, restrictions by the EU Legislative framework, in particular those requiring the labelling of medicines to be in an official language of the Member State, are making this task difficult,” the spokesperson said.
HIV activists had flagged a recent abrupt shortage of crucial medicine which left some patients left to crowdsource the pills.
“The shortages of the HIV drug may be attributed to an increase of cargo towards the UK and stockpiling in the UK ahead of the end of the transition period at the end of January,” the ministry continued.
However, an official from the EU Commission told Lovin Malta that it wasn’t aware of any shortages in the EU, and that it didn’t expect problems with medicine shortages due to Brexit.
“Moreover, Malta has not reached out to the Commission for assistance with this matter,” the EU official said.
According to the Ministry of Health, the negative impact of Brexit is a concern which has been raised with the Commission on several occasions at both political and technical levels.
“This was also discussed bilaterally during Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Health Chris Fearne’s last bilateral meeting in Brussels in March 2020.”
The ministry claims the Commission had acknowledged the problem and proposed some ad-hoc solutions and derogations for Malta, Cyprus, Ireland and Northern Ireland, since the latter will remain in the single market when it comes to goods, including pharmaceuticals.
“These special arrangements should be published in the coming weeks,” the health spokesperson concluded.
As of Monday, all pharmacies concerned will be supplied with adequate stock. This is part of a new system being rolled out which will include new and more convenient HIV treatment as part of a €3 million euro investment.
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