Shortage of medication in Austria

The Austrian revolutionary and democratic newspaper Rote Fahne writes that a shortage of medication has continued in Austria for months. Affected are especially antibiotics, pain killers and fever medication, all medicines people commonly need. Alternatives are also not available. Especially those suffering from chronic pain have been affected, and have to be hospitalized more often. In Austria, every sixth person has experienced issues with the availability of medicine according to polls. A similar situation is occurring worldwide.

Earlier such shortages in Europe have been common in oppressed nations like Romania, Bulgaria and other Eastern European countries, which are not attractive markets for the drug monopolies. They target especially the market in the imperialist countries, with an aging population with relatively good access to healthcare and money to spend to their health. Rote Fahne writes that the reason for this shortage is the problems of the long supply chain, because most of the medicines are produced in Asia, especially in social-imperialist China and oppressed nations like India, where the workers are subjected to worse pay and worse conditions than in other countries. Especially the role of India as a manufacturer is significant: according to DW, 20% of the generic drugs in the world market are produced in India, and the growth is rapid. But still, the largest pharmaceutical companies based on revenue in the world are Chinese, US, Swiss, British, French, or Japanese. The production of the active substances is highly concentrated, and the monopolies produce systematically too little of what the people need and focus on developing medicine that maximizes their profit.

At the same time, many EU imperialist states and companies are complaining about the increasing role of Chinese social-imperialism in the drug market: there is talk about “dependency” on China. Now the EU is putting forward a proposal to boost investment in European pharmaceuticals in the end of April. Based on the initial information of Reuters, the proposal will make it possibly easier for new challengers to emerge on the market – for example making generic products more available by shortening the period in which companies can claim exclusivity on a certain drug – as well as make it easier for states to forecast shortages. Additionally, companies might get more time of exclusivity in the EU market over an antibiotic, if they create new ones.

The proposal would be made into a law in 2025. Little solution to the daily issues of the people can however be expected. Already during the Covid-19 pandemic, many governments have given money to companies to “boost” medicine production – Austria for example has invested in the factory of the Swiss company Novartis in Tirol. However, the situation remains the same. Despite mentioning the issues of the supply chain, the proposal does not intend to move medicine production to the imperialist countries, but only to give some advantages to the European monopolies over the others.

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