Thirty-five-year-old Jana is dealing with a serious problem. Her nine-year-old daughter has severe allergies, and common medications help her only to a limited extent during the pollen season. Last year, for the first time, the doctor prescribed her a vaccine, which is applied at a time when pollen is not spread through the air.
“Usually, the allergist is called in September and the vaccination starts around November, when there are no allergens. But the allergist said that there is no vaccine in the Czech Republic this year. We are supposed to call again in mid-October. But no one knows if it will or not,” says Jana.
It is another part of the never-ending series, how a number of important medicines, including irreplaceable ones, are missing in the Czech Republic. And once again it turns out that it is not just the most discussed antibiotics.
Even the vaccine for allergy sufferers ranks among the products whose replacement is difficult to find. In the database of the State Institute for Drug Control, it is marked as difficult to replace.
“Treatment is long-term, it should last at least three years and the vaccine should ideally not be changed,” explains Petr Panzner, chairman of the Czech Society of Allergology and Clinical Immunotherapy.
This is precisely why replacement is problematic. Alternative preparations are available, but they may not always be optimal for a given patient.
“There was already a blackout last year. At the beginning of the year, the vaccine was no longer available. It is a fact that new treatments are started in the fall and winter, which is very unpleasant,” adds Panzner.
Perhaps at the end of October
Both types of vaccines, both for grass and tree pollens, have reported shortages since last fall. The deliveries were supposed to be resumed already in the spring, but that did not happen.
“The date of the expected date of resumption of supplies was postponed several times to a later date by the holder of the registration decision. SÚKL repeatedly contacted the holder,” explains the spokesperson of the State Institute for Drug Control, Gréta Rakašová.
In the Czech Republic, however, there is no way to find out whether there are still any stocks of medicines available. Nevertheless, it can be concluded from SÚKL data that there is a real lack of vaccines for allergy sufferers.
The Pharmaceutical Institute presents data on the number of packages dispensed from pharmacies every month. The latest data is from August. And while dozens of packages of grass pollen vaccine were released last August, not a single one this August. The second type of tree pollen vaccine reports a large decrease.
“According to the latest information from the holder from September 18, 2023, these medicinal products should be available again from October 30, 2023,” adds Rakašová.
The Czech Society of Allergology and Clinical Immunology also received the same information. Nauzal therefore also asked the supplier whether the drug would actually reach Czech patients at the end of October. However, Allergy Therapeutics did not respond by the time the article was published.
The editors were also interested in what was behind the outage. As an explanation, in the database of the State Institute for Drug Control, only general “production reasons” are listed. No other details are known.
Last December, one batch of grass pollen vaccine had to be recalled due to the risk of foreign particles. According to the State Institute for Drug Control, patients could be at risk of a local reaction at the site of administration.