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Czechia seeks to restart penicillin production. A new factory is to be built

Translated by Milo Dvorak

25. 3. 2024

Business Newsletter #19

Good morning,

A recent antibiotics shortage has highlighted the issues of outsourced and offshored production of strategic medicine. Might this be heralding the comeback of production into our own country?

Published by Česká televize on 24 March 2024.

newsletter 19
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The ministers of health, finance, as well as industry and trade have expressed their desire in the return of penicillin production to Czechia and are entertaining the construction of a new factory. The proposal is now being considered by the European Commission. The construction will begin immediately provided no remarks are made. The production line could thus start within a year and a half.

Penicillin production began in a Roztoky factory near Prague 75 years ago. Government members, led by their chairman Antonín Zápotocký, arrived in Roztoky for the factory opening. Production ended in the second half of the 1950s. "For strategic reasons, the production was moved to Slovakia. Our contemporary facility is home to ongoing production, more modern than this building, of course" stated the director of VUAB Pharma, Miloslav Dvořák.

Currently, the site mainly produces the active substance nystatin, which is used, for example, in treatments for yeast infections. The ministry is unlikely to seriously entertain the resuming of penicillin production at the factory. The company residing there is not authorised to produce this antibiotic.

It would take up to three years to obtain it. "We are partnering with an already-existing and authorised firm, producing medicines in the Czech Republic, although penicillin production must be separated from the rest due to the risk of contamination, including air conditioning," warned the Deputy Minister of Health, Jakub Dvořáček.

Antibiotic production at the neighbor's

And so, the construction of an entirely new factory is being entertained. "At this moment, penicillin production operates in Slovakia and Austria, our two neighbouring countries. The question is how much it is absolutely necessary for production to also be in the Czech Republic," noted the director of the Czech Association of Pharmaceutical Companies, Filip Vrubel.

However, both parties agree that it is a step that will strengthen Czechia's medicinal self-sufficiency. The decision on production could be made this year.

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