By Carmen Paun
18 July 2019
The Belgian constitutional court today suspended an article in a recent law that had introduced a ban of medicine exports in an effort to reduce drug shortages.
The law, passed in late March by the Belgian parliament, created two tiers of registration for distributors — one for those operating purely domestically and another for exporters. It meant that the latter faced significant obstacles in selling medicines abroad, so that more could be channeled to the domestic market.
The court ruled today, however, that the restriction hasn’t seemed to achieve its intended effect of reducing drug shortages. It noted there is no evidence suggesting that the activity of the exporters affected the availability of certain medicines in Belgium. Its suspension of the article effectively means the ban is overturned.
Even before the restriction, exporters had to guarantee they would leave enough supply in Belgium to meet the country’s needs, the judges said.
The distributors who brought the case attested “to the fact that a very marginal percentage of the really unavailable drugs was actually exported,” an element not contradicted by the Belgian government, the ruling said.