Medicine supplies on life support


PETALING JAYA: A spike within the variety of circumstances for Covid-19 and influenza, in addition to hand, foot and mouth illness (HFMD) outbreaks, has exacerbated the issue of drugs scarcity within the nation.

Checks by The Star at pharmacies across the Klang Valley discovered that over-the-counter (OTC) medication reminiscent of paracetamol, cough syrup and lozenges for sore throat are operating low in provide. Some clinics are additionally operating low.

An trade participant is worried that the scarcity may result in a well being disaster.

“Most pharmacies and clinics are out of stock on medications such as Clarinase for flu and blocked nose, and Betadine for sore throat.

“We also recently received a memo from our supplier saying that flu jabs will only be available in 2024,” a health care provider who wished to stay nameless instructed The Star.

Children’s cough syrup and Panadol Syrup for teenagers are additionally out of inventory, inflicting some dad and mom to dissolve paracetamol tablets and giving them to their youngsters, a pharmacist added.

Other pharmacists mentioned the availability of Panadol Soluble and Prospan cough syrup had been lower off since final yr.

“The supply of Panadol Extend was also cut off for a while and we only just received stocks last week,” a pharmacist mentioned.

He added that the availability of all kinds of Panadol was so low that shares would usually run out in simply two days.

Federation of Private Medical Practitioners Associations Malaysia president Dr Steven Chow mentioned the state of affairs is getting even worse and it’s unlikely that it might be resolved quickly.

“Many clinics are now short of basic cough and cold syrups due to many outbreaks, like HFMD, influenza and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

“This includes multiple prescription medications such as antibiotics, prednisolone, antivirals, OTC medications for fever, flu, cough and cold, and paediatric medicines like syrups – they are currently out of stock in general practitioner clinics.“In the meantime, if we are faced with an unexpected disease outbreak, it will trigger a crisis,” he added.

All mouth ulcer sprays are additionally operating quick because of the present surge of HFMD circumstances, he mentioned.

Malaysian Pharmacists Society president Amrahi Buang mentioned the state of affairs has not modified a lot because the Covid-19 pandemic started.

Besides the variety of circumstances, there are different elements such because the conflict between Ukraine and Russia which have affected the drugs provide.

“The fluctuation of Covid-19 cases will affect medicine supply because it involves global trade.

“Even if we want to manufacture our own medicine, we still have to import the ingredients or packing materials, so no one can solve this – we need to accept (that there is a shortage of medicine).

“All this is happening – we have food security and now we have medicine security (issues).

“But it is something that everyone is aware of and the Health Ministry is taking action because we anticipated this two years ago,” he added.

Stressing that the problem is a worldwide drawback, Amrahi mentioned the general public ought to play their function too in minimising the influence of medicine scarcity.

“I can’t predict what will happen in the future, but I don’t think that it will settle by the end of this year, and that is why the public needs to be mindful in their usage, avoid wastage and make sure they take medicine according to the prescribed dose.

“Avoid hoarding medicine and make use of alternative treatments such as honey and lemon (for sore throat).

“For me, it is best if we improve our health literacy and at the same time take care of our health – go for preventive care,” he mentioned.

In GEORGE TOWN, a examine confirmed that sure drugs together with Panadol Optizorb, Coflix Lozenges and cough syrups for youngsters in many of the metropolis’s pharmacies have been bought out, with no signal of recent shares arriving quickly.

Malaysian Pharmaceutical Association Penang chairman Gina Koay mentioned the state of affairs may solely enhance subsequent yr because the latest surge in Covid-19 circumstances was not anticipated, and it was compounded by the scarcity of uncooked supplies and logistics points because of the conflict in Ukraine.

“Big pharmaceutical companies such as those in Europe usually will have a set amount – for example, RM100mil worth of cartons of a particular brand of medicine – for Malaysia but they did not anticipate a surge in Covid-19 cases,” she mentioned.

Penang Medical Practitioners Society president Datuk KK Tan mentioned 60% of its 700 members have been in the identical predicament, including that the scarcity was “very real”.

“I would not say it is acute, as private clinics have been told to propose alternative brands to patients and educate them on their efficacy compared with the ones they asked for.

“The rise in other diseases such as HFMD and supply chain issues during this period have also contributed to the shortage of certain medicines and we hope the situation will improve by October,” he added.

Association of Private Hospitals Malaysia president Datuk Dr Kuljit Singh mentioned regardless of the shortages, there are a number of options that can be utilized.

“The medication shortage is temporary and for flu medication, there are a lot of alternatives.

“If we are particular to a specific brand then it may be a challenge. However, for chronic and critical diseases, we do not see any shortage.

“We were given an assurance that by the end of the year, the supply will stabilise – unless we get into any other issue with the pandemic,” he mentioned.

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