The first call for tenders organised by the Estonian Stockpiling Agency (ESPA) for the establishment of a national stockpile of medicinal products supplied through pharmacies received tenders for 104 medicinal products. The ESPA is planning to establish, by the end of the summer of 2023 at the latest, a one-month stockpile of over-the-counter and prescription drugs sold in retail pharmacies based on the 165 most commonly used medicines in Estonia.
The aim of the stockpile of medicinal products supplied through pharmacies is to increase security of supply and to mitigate the risks associated with potential long-term supply disruptions. The ESPA is building up the stockpile based on active substances, and wholesalers of medicinal products were able to offer any medicines with the required active substance content and in the appropriate pharmaceutical form. The stockpiling does not include medicines required for the provision of health services in hospitals and ambulances; forming the national stockpile of these medicines is the responsibility of the Health Board.
The ESPA signed delegated stockpiling agreements with wholesalers, by which the companies undertook to create, store and continuously update additional stocks of medicinal products.
According to Priit Ploompuu, board member of the Estonian Stockpiling Agency, the results of the first tender are satisfactory.
‘When building up the stockpile of medicines, we must inevitably take into account changes in the overall economic and security environment. Several medicinal products have been experiencing global supply shortages for some time, and their low availability on the global market also makes it difficult for wholesalers of medicinal products to bring an additional supply to Estonia, corresponding to one month’s consumption.
We are planning to launch a new tender for the remaining active substances in the beginning of next year to form a reserve and we will make the terms of the contract somewhat more flexible,’ Ploompuu explained.
The Estonian Stockpiling Agency reimburses contractual partners for the cost of holding additional stock, but does not buy out medicines. Wholesalers are not allowed to draw on the strategic stockpile of medicinal products supplied through pharmacies on their own and may only do so with the permission of the Estonian Stockpiling Agency. In a situation where the supply of one or more medicinal products to Estonia is blocked, the strategic stockpile under state control will ensure their availability in pharmacies for a longer period of time.
In addition to the national stockpile of medicines that is being built up, our wholesalers of medicinal products also have significant commercial stocks. The combined stockpiles held by companies and the state offer a greater sense of security.
In the development of the national stockpiling model for medicinal products supplied through pharmacies, the ESPA was advised by a panel of ten top health professionals, including representatives of both market participants and public authorities. The list of active substances to be included in the stockpile was approved by the Minister of Health and Labour. The list of active substances included in the stockpile list will be reviewed regularly in the future to keep it in line with developments in the Estonian pharmaceutical market.
Pursuant to the Public Information Act, the exact nomenclature, quantities, locations, and criteria for use of the state’s operation stockpile are not public information.
The Estonian Stockpiling Agency, which is a state enterprise, started operating in the summer of 2021 and is responsible for stockpiling, storing, and organising the utilisation of essential goods needed by the Estonian population in emergencies.