Although “cedar pollen dispersion is higher than usual,” “hay fever sufferers” are depressed by a “serious shortage of medicines. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Although “cedar pollen dispersion is higher than usual,” “hay fever sufferers” are depressed by a “serious shortage of medicines.

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Cedar pollen will begin to be dispersed in early February in Kyushu and parts of Kanto, reaching its peak from the end of the same month to the end of March. The amount of pollen dispersed is expected to be about the same or slightly higher than usual, and very high in Hokkaido, but there is a shortage of the all-important medicine.

This year, too, hay fever season has arrived. Cedar pollen will begin to be dispersed in Kyushu and parts of Kanto in early February, which is on par with or earlier than usual, and will reach its peak from late February to late March. Compared to the average for the past 10 years, the amount of cedar pollen scattered in most areas from Kyushu to Tohoku is expected to be on par with or slightly higher than usual, while Hokkaido is expected to have a very high amount. One medical professional revealed, “People with pollen allergies are not going to be able to get rid of it.

A medical professional revealed, “It must be a depressing season for hay fever sufferers, but this year, we have a situation that will add to the gloom.

What does this mean? There is a serious shortage of drugs both at medical facilities and pharmacies.

The problem became pronounced last fall. The COVID-19 crisis led to thorough measures against infectious diseases, and the influenza epidemic, which had been kept to a minimum for the past three years, began to spread earlier. Demand for cold remedies and other medicines increased at once, but as one would expect, there was a shortage of both cough medicines and expectorant medicines. The situation is unprecedented in that the necessary drugs are not being supplied to the patients who need them.

At the beginning of the year, I took my son to the hospital and went to the pharmacy to get some cough medicine. I took my son to the hospital at the beginning of the year and went to the pharmacy to get some cough medicine. I was in a slight panic.

This was the actual experience of a man in the editorial department of this magazine during the New Year vacations. After visiting several pharmacies, the man was finally able to obtain the medicine he wanted, but the pharmacist told him, “We may not be able to provide it next time. The man could not hide his anxiety: “If we can’t get it, what will happen to my child?

However, such a serious situation is nothing to worry about, unless you or your family members catch a cold. How about a medicine for hay fever, a national disease that affects one out of every two Japanese people?

We went to the website of the Japan Generic Pharmaceutical Association and checked its database on the supply of medicines. In principle, the database only lists products that are either “out of stock” or in “limited shipment” status. Although it is not widely known, generics now account for more than 80% of prescription drugs. A shortage of drugs means a shortage of generic drugs.

Hay fever medications include antihistamines to suppress allergy symptoms, eye drops for itchy and bloodshot eyes, and nasal drops for runny nose, nasal congestion, and sneezing. The database allows you to search by the name of the active ingredient.

The search revealed that 50 out of 59 montelukast products are “out of supply” or “in limited supply,” 11 out of 16 chlorpheniramine maleate products are “out of supply” or “in limited supply,” and 19 out of 38 fexofenadine hydrochloride products, or half of the total, are “in limited supply” or “out of supply. The situation is not encouraging for montelukast. Montelukast is a nasal spray that is often prescribed because it is administered only once a day and does not cause drowsiness. Fexofenadine hydrochloride is a second-generation antihistamine that is said to be mildly effective with very little drowsiness.

Last October, when the shortage of cough medicine and expectorant became an issue, the government requested major manufacturers of the drugs in short supply to release their inventories or urgently increase production, but a survey conducted by the Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers’ Associations of Japan covering all prescription drugs shows that the supply situation of drugs deteriorated for three consecutive months from October to December The survey shows that the supply of drugs began to become unstable.

The supply of medicines began to become unstable about three years ago, triggered by an incident in which a sleep-inducing drug ingredient was mixed into a drug for the treatment of athlete’s foot nails by Kobayashi Kako. The incident brought to light a series of cases of improper manufacturing by several generic drug makers, including Nichi-Iko, Choseido Pharmaceutical, and Kyowa Pharmaceutical Industries, and led to a series of administrative actions. As a result, many products were subject to limited or suspended shipments, and orders were concentrated on manufacturers that had not caused the problem. Many manufacturers continue to restrict supply. A pharmaceutical company official revealed, “In the background, there was a lot of confusion about the supply of the drug in ’15.

It is said that the reason behind this is the 80% market expansion target set by the government in 2003.

It is said that a number of companies, unable to withstand the pressure, have been giving priority to the supply of drugs and neglecting the quality of their products.

The Pharmaceutical Affairs Law, which was revised in 2005, has also had a major impact.

Under the previous system, companies selling pharmaceuticals were required to have their own manufacturing plants. However, after the revision, all manufacturing processes can be outsourced to outside contractors, allowing for complete separation of the sales and manufacturing businesses. In other words, the separation of factory and sales made it possible to drastically reduce costs, which led to the creation of more than 200 distributors that did not have factories, which quickly expanded the market. As a result, competition has intensified, and it is undeniable that the wrinkles have gone to companies with factories.

Last May, after the new coronavirus was moved to category 5 under the Infectious Disease Control Law, the shortage became even more serious, and in October of last year, it was also revealed that one of the three generic companies, Sawai Pharmaceutical, had committed quality verification testing irregularities. Although there is a shortage of plants, it takes time and money to build new ones. However, the industry is caught in a dilemma: Generic drugs are inexpensive and the market is not expected to grow, so it is difficult to make large capital investments.

Even if the industry wants to maintain a stable supply, it will not be able to do so for some time to come. This year’s pollen allergy season is likely to be even more difficult than usual.

  • Interview and text Hiromi Kihara

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