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HEALTH

Spanish government to put a stop to Castilla y León’s anti-abortion rules

The Spanish government agreed on Tuesday that the region of Castilla y León would not be allowed to carry out the anti-abortion protocols announced last week.

Spanish government to put a stop to Castilla y León’s anti-abortion rules
Castilla y Leon's regional president Alfonso Fernandez Manueco. Photo: CESAR MANSO / AFP

In a note from the Secretary of State for Communication, the government reports that the new rules announced by the region “violate or impair the rights regulated” in Spain’s abortion law.

Last week, the regional vice president of Castilla y León Juan García-Gallardo announced that they would implement a set of pro-life measures to help prevent abortions, such as offering 4D ultrasounds and the chance for the parents to listen to the fetal heartbeat. 

READ ALSO: Spain’s Castilla y León to introduce measures to prevent abortions

The Minister of the Presidency and Court Relations, Félix Bolaños, assured the media that they would “immediately cease any setback of women’s rights” and that they see these protocols as a “violation of the rights and freedoms of women”.

The central government already sent a request to Castilla y León to put a stop to it before the announcement was made. 

The regional president of Castilla y León, Alfonso Fernández Mañueco, on Monday, January 16th denied that care of pregnant women will be modified.

READ ALSO: What are Spain’s abortion laws for foreign residents and visitors?

Mañueco contradicted his vice president, Juan García-Gallardo by saying that women who want to abort and doctors who don’t want to carry out the procedures will not be forced “to do anything”, despite the fact that the Vox leader insisted that it would be “mandatory” and “imperative”. 

García-Gallardo insisted on Monday that the new anti-abortion protocol would enter into force that same day, however, the Official Gazette of Castilla y León has not included anything to that effect and doctors haven’t received any different instructions.

Mañueco argued that the only thing that has been agreed is to “improve the provision” for pregnant women, but has made it clear that “it has not been modified”. 

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HEALTH

Shortage of medicines in Spanish pharmacies grows by 150 percent

Spanish pharmacies are increasingly struggling to get the proper supply of certain medicines such as paediatric amoxicillin and some anti-diabetic drugs.

Shortage of medicines in Spanish pharmacies grows by 150 percent

In 2022 Spanish pharmacies experienced supply problems with 403 medicines, according to Spain’s General Council of Pharmaceutical Colleges (CGCOF).

Though this figure represents just 5 percent of the total 20,000 medicines sold in Spain, it is an increase of 150 percent compared to 2021 and represents what experts have deemed a “worrying” trend that is rising after two years of decline. The shortages last an average of four or five weeks.

This was the warning made by the CGCOF based on its data on the supply of medicines (CisMED), which is focused on ‘supply alert’ notices provided by almost 10,000 of the 22,000 pharmacies across Spain.

READ ALSO – Reader question: Are there limits on bringing medicines into Spain?

On average in 2022, more than 70 medicines were identified as suffering from shortages per week. The weekly average for 2021 was 28 incidents and in 2020 it was 41.

Of these shortages, experts say they are especially pronounced in medicines for the nervous system and cardiovascular groups, and “very significantly” pronounced with paediatric amoxicillin and some anti-diabetic drugs.

Medicines for the nervous system made up around 20 percent of the incidents, followed by cardiovascular therapeutics, with 19 percent, digestive 14 percent, and respiratory 13 percent.

READ ALSO: Pharmacies in Spain will be able to sell medical marijuana by the end of 2022

Call for calm

Stark as this statistic may seem out of context, however, it does not suggest that shelves in Spanish pharmacies are bare nor that Spaniards are being turned away by out-of-stock pharmacists.

Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, President of the CGCOF, Jesús Aguilar, soothed fears by drawing distinctions between different types of shortages, one, he said, was “when there is none for anyone,” and the other a lack of supply “when there is none today but there will be tomorrow, or when there is none here but there is there”. 

Spain, he said, was suffering the second, adding that pharmacists can always replace or find alternative medicines. “Citizens have to be calm. It’s under control. We have the problem when it comes to looking for the medicine, not the citizens,” he added.

Causes

The causes of the shortages of certain medicines in Spain are various, but many stem from a combination of the centralised nature of production, meaning some medicines are produced only in certain parts of the world or even single factories, and a shortage of raw materials and packaging from Asian countries where production has been slow to recover from the pandemic shutdown, as well as the low price of medicines in Spain.

The issue is “a multifactorial problem that comes from problems with the increasingly globalised nature of drug manufacturing,” Aguilar said. “This supply problem has been affecting Spain for years, as well as the rest of Europe and the world.”

Farmahelp

To try and ease the supply shortages, the CGCOF has launched a new campaign to expand ‘Farmahelp’, a collaborative network of pharmacies that already has almost 6000 participating branches.

The Farmahelp app allows patients to find medicines in nearby pharmacies when they are unavailable and connects the pharmacy branches so they can update one another about the availability of medicines.

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