Essential Medicine Shortages

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Through the essential medicine monitoring system (EMMO), we track shortages of drugs worldwide in hospitals as they happen. Consolidation in the pharmaceutical industry has left only a few manufacturers for many older, less profitable but essential and lifesaving medicines. Due to the lack of profit, companies do not plan for backup capacity, but also issues with quality can shut down a manufacturer for months. Epidemics and seasonal illnesses are also known to cause ripples in the availability of medicines.

This has ultimately affected the planning for backup capacity by the manufacturers, due to the reduced profitability. The lack of regulatory compliance by certain facilities can also at times, stop the production of these pharmaceuticals for months.

Why is this relevant?

Drug shortages are a major challenge for healthcare systems. They compromise the ability of hospitals to provide lifesaving and urgent care. They can lead to permanent disabilities, treatment errors and even death. When a front-line drug such as epinephrine runs out, hospital deaths increase.

80% of hospitals indicate they have trouble sourcing bare essential medicines.

How does this program help?

By establishing a global system to track shortages of essential medicines, we are allowing aid organizations to act promptly either by sourcing the required pharmaceuticals with the manufacturers and/or facilitating redistribution where possible.

Delaying essential treatments to patients, has the potential to cause comorbidities, permanent disabilities and even loss of life. Acting promptly and decisively is of paramount importance and we are committed to improve the way these situations are dealt with globally.

We also believe that many economic pressures associated particularly with the outbreaks of epidemics can be minimized, if we are able to act sooner.


Urgent funding is needed to expand this program to cover as many hospitals as possible. Globally, 164 500 hospitals are operating. They need to be contacted individually and set up on our systems.

Essential medicines list

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