Cyber attack disrupts Spanish medicine distribution

One of Spain's leading wholesale pharmaceutical distributors has suffered a cyber attack that has delayed the delivery of medicines to pharmacies.

Cyber attack disrupts Spanish medicine distribution

A cyberattack on a leading pharmaceutical supply company has disrupted the distribution of medicines to Spanish pharmacies. 

The attack, which started last Friday and is still ongoing, has affected wholesale supplier Alliance Healthcare’s servers and delayed and even prevented the normal delivery of some medicines to pharmacies in Spain, according to Spanish daily El País. Alliance Healthcare is the fourth biggest supplier in Spain. 

In a statement to El País, the company said it was suffering an ongoing “computer system interruption” and that “it is working quickly to solve the interruption.”

As a result, some pharmacists have been unable to use the online system. “They have the servers blocked and the whole company is blocked,” Antoni Torres, President of the Catalonia Federation of Associations of Pharmacies, told 20minutos.

This comes just two weeks after a cyber attack affected Hospital Clínic in Barcelona. Alliance Healthcare’s business presence is greater in Catalonia than in other parts of Spain, where it makes up around a quarter of the market as opposed to 10 percent across the rest of the country, meaning the supply issues have been felt more severely in the north-eastern region.

Fortunately, as Alliance is a wholesale supplier, though deliveries have been disrupted, this does not mean customers have been unable to get their hands on medicine as other suppliers can step in to fill the void, though there have been some delays.

Pharmaceutical industry sources confirmed that the cyber attack “has plunged the sector into a kind of chaos in recent days,” but added that it “has not affected patients in a very important way, except in some cases in which the arrival of necessary drugs may have taken longer”. 

No data leak

Fortunately, the cyber attack does not mean that customer or patient data is at risk. Sources confirmed to El País that “this type of [personal customer] information does not reach wholesalers”. 

“Our data is purely commercial, such as orders and billing between us and the pharmacy offices. Wholesalers do not have patient data,” the source added.

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As of this Thursday, June 1st, those in Spain who suffer from debilitating menstruation problems as well as other sexual and reproductive issues will be able to request paid leave from work. Here are the three main reasons you can now get sick leave.

EXPLAINED: The three new reasons you can now take sick leave in Spain

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Spain is the first country to offer menstrual leave in Europe. It is currently only offered by a few countries in the world including Japan, Indonesia and Zambia.