Germany to pay more for child medicines amid supply shortage

Category: Health


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. fall back on (something) / fɔl bæk ɑn / (phrasal v.) – to use another option for help or protection when the first option isn’t enough or available

    We can fall back on our savings in case our salaries aren’t enough for all the expenses this month.

  2. generic / dʒəˈnɛr ɪk / (adj.) – not produced under a specific brand name

    This pharmacy sells both branded and generic drugs.

  3. cap / kæp / (v.) – to put a limit on the cost of a product to avoid too much price increase

    The government capped the price of gasoline to make sure it remains affordable.

  4. margin / ˈmɑr dʒɪn / (n.) – the profit made by a business from its products or services

    The tight competition with the other brand led to lower profit margins.

  5. heightened / ˈhaɪt nd / (adj.) – greater than the usual size, number, or amount

    Authorities were alarmed at the heightened reports of online scams in the country.


Read the text below.

The German government said that it will allow health insurance companies to pay more for pediatric medications that are in short supply in the country.

Germans have scrambled to find basic drugs such as painkillers amid delivery bottlenecks and higher-than-usual demand.

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said insurers that form the backbone of the German public health system will be able to pay 50% more than the legally set price for patent-free medicines. If such drugs aren’t available, they can fall back on more expensive branded drugs or make liquids preferred for pediatric use out of tablets.

Germany, where the prices insurers pay for generic drugs are capped, is a less attractive market for some pharmaceutical companies than neighboring nations such as the Netherlands.

Lauterbach said Germany would also try to tackle a shortage of antibiotics and cancer drugs by giving preference to suppliers that produce key ingredients within the European Union and requiring them to keep several months’ worth of stocks.

German authorities say the country has a critical shortage of more than 50 drugs, most of them generics. The problem is caused by slim margins for some medications, a concentration of suppliers in certain non-EU countries, heightened demand and quality control issues.

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • Germany is facing a serious problem with drug shortage. What do you think might happen if the government fails to immediately solve this problem? Discuss.
  • How would you feel if the medicine you need is not available in your country? What would you do to get that medicine? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • Do you think your government prioritizes child care? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • The German government said it will allow health insurance companies to pay more for pediatric medications that are in short supply in the country. In your opinion, what services for children should insurance companies cover (ex. vaccinations, vitamins)? Discuss.