A quick trip to the pharmacy to get medicine? This is currently not possible in many cities. Companies are complaining about severe supply bottlenecks. Influenza drugs are particularly affected. FOCUS online says how to protect yourself from it.

A telephone sample from FOCUS online showed that popular cough medicine and important antihypertensives are currently not available in many pharmacies. The offer is masked by severe supply bottlenecks.

Certain medicines are not available, the pharmacies have to switch to alternative medicines, which, however, were not the first choice of the doctor’s office or the customers.

“The situation is bad,” says Thomas Preis, chairwoman of the North Rhine Pharmacy Association. The current delivery bottlenecks are so severe that he has not experienced anything like this in more than 30 years of work. And the “delivery deficits” could worsen in 2023.

The Federal Union of German Associations of Pharmacists (ABDA) also confirmed the bottlenecks on request and called the situation a “big challenge” that one has in view of the bottlenecks and that will remain in place for the foreseeable future.

Several federal states are particularly affected, including Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, Brandenburg, Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia. In one sample, fever syrups for children, gastric acid blockers, cough syrups, cough suppressants and blood pressure medication were not available. The waiting times were between six and eight weeks.

“At the moment there are bottlenecks in paracetamol, ibuprofen and other cough syrups,” explains a pharmacy in downtown Cologne on request. Cough suppressants and stomach pain relievers are also only available to a limited extent. For example, manufacturers such as Nurofen, Ratiopharm, Dolormin or Buscopan are affected for gastrointestinal complaints.

Parents who need cough syrups for their children are advised to use other preparations, such as suppositories or tablets and capsules that are taken orally. Tablets can be dissolved in apple juice or tea. Children would not taste the drugs.

“We no longer have ACC acute cough removers,” explains a pharmacy near Ulm. There are no more packs available in the entire city. It is generally difficult to obtain a cough suppressant in liquid form or as an effervescent tablet. The waiting time is currently six to eight weeks. In acute cases, alternatives would be offered. Every doctor’s office and every pharmacy can help here.

Certain painkillers are currently also affected by the shortages. For example, the opioid painkiller Targin is difficult to deliver. Pharmacies confirm this on request. Those affected should contact oncological clinics or specialized medical practices in the area directly.

As a rule, other patients have insight into where certain medications might still be available.

Are you undergoing treatment and are currently unable to access medication? Send an email to staerker.zusammen@burda-forward.de. Tell us which drug it is and which manufacturer it is from.

Which medication is it exactly?

The Federal Union of German Associations of Pharmacists justified the tense situation with the “enormous cost pressure in the healthcare system”. To save money, manufacturers rely on production in Asia.

If a batch fails there or the ship transport is delayed, this has consequences for the supply in Germany.

Always order medicines that you need for the medicine chest in good time. The waiting time for some medications is four to eight weeks. This applies to local pharmacies as well as online providers.

If you are looking for fever reducers, cough syrups or nasal sprays at the last minute, you have to expect higher costs and at the same time have to go to the nearest pharmacy, even if it is cold. Anyone who is ill perceives this as a terrible additional burden.

Ibubrofen or paracetamol cough syrups can be replaced with suppositories or tablets. Pharmacies can advise you on this.

Patients who are dependent on certain tablets should hand in important follow-up prescriptions to the pharmacy in good time by the doctor treating them, so that the company can pre-order them accordingly. Ideally, those affected should expect a lead time of at least three weeks.