Medicine shortages and availability issues

Table of contents

This content applies to human and veterinary medicines.

Improving the availability of medicines authorised in the European Union (EU) is a key priority for the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the European medicines regulatory network. Shortages or other problems with the availability of medicines create challenges for the medicine supply chain, potentially seriously impacting human and animal health. 

Medicine shortages can have an impact on patient care. They can occur for many reasons, such as manufacturing difficulties, problems affecting the quality of medicines or increased demand.

Regulatory authorities in and outside Europe are increasingly working together to prevent shortages and to limit their impact whenever they occur. The European medicines regulatory network aims to minimise the impact of medicine shortages on patients by:

  • working with pharmaceutical companies to discuss their contingencies and resolve manufacturing and distribution issues;
  • sharing information with international partners about alternative sources of supply;
  • seeking input from patients and healthcare professionals on the impact of medicine shortages, to support decision-making;
  • taking measures to allow alternative medicines or suppliers to be used.

In this section

Public information on medicine shortages

EMA's shortages catalogue with information on ongoing and resolved shortages assessed by EMA and links to national registers of shortages

HMA / EMA Task Force on the Availability of Authorised Medicines for Human and Veterinary Use

Information about the Task Force, including its structure, work programme and composition

Availability of critical medicines before and during crises

EMA's role in coordinating the EU response to supply issues of human medicines caused by crises such as major events or public health emergencies

Guidance for patients and healthcare professionals

Measures that patients’ and healthcare professionals’ organisations can take to help prevent and manage shortages of human medicines in the EU

Guidance for companies

Guidance for marketing authorisation holders, wholesalers, distributors, and manufacturers on maintaining a continuous supply of their medicines

Guidance for regulators

Guidance on communicating to the public about shortage-related issues and managing shortages caused by manufacturing or quality problems.


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