Pharmacists urge shoppers to get drugs from verified sources

KUALA LUMPUR: The shortage of drugs used to relieve symptoms of Covid-19 could lead to more counterfeits flooding the market, pharmacists warn.

The shortage is reported across the country and even health practitioners are unable to stock up on cough mixture, sore throat medicine and paracetamol.

Malaysian Pharmacists Society (MPS) President Amrahi Buang confirmed that shortages were being reported across the country.

He said the situation deteriorated after the Chinese New Year and Federal Territories public holidays.

“During this time, we have seen many people crossing state lines, and failure to follow standard operating procedures may have contributed to an increase in cases.

“This has led to an increase in demand for all drugs related to Covid-19,” he said.

Amrahi said that apart from the surge in demand, the country’s stocks were also affected by logistical issues and international demand.

He also warned of the possibility of a booming counterfeit drug market.

This is because the shortage is not only in Malaysia but all over the world.

“That’s why the public should get their medicines from verified community pharmacies and if they search for medicines online, they can get them from storefronts verified by MPS to ensure they are not buying fake medicines. “, he added.

Amrahi said the government should focus on ensuring equal access to medicines across the country.

“Sometimes the manufacturers don’t distribute the drugs well, which means they give the drugs to private clinics but not to pharmacists.”

Malaysia, Amrahi added, should also strive to be self-sufficient in manufacturing medicines.

“I raised the issue of drug shortages two years ago, but are we ready to go into the endemic phase with a lack of supply?

“Malaysia must be self-sufficient, local industry must be supported and we can also work with neighboring countries to manufacture medicine,” he added.

The president of the Malaysian Medical Association, Dr Koh Kar Chai, meanwhile told the public to only buy what they need and not stock up to avoid unnecessary waste. Some drugs, he said, have short expiration dates.

“Understand that these are non-life-saving drugs that are only intended for symptom control and not for the treatment of disease,” he added.

Dr Koh said that although there have been disruptions in the supply of certain drugs at several pharmacies and clinics, the situation is still manageable as there are alternatives.

“In pharmacies, it has been found that the most well-known brands are usually targeted first, as these are the ones consumers will look for when making a purchase.

“However, there is no acute shortage,” he added.

A doctor at a clinic in Subang Jaya, who requested anonymity, said the clinic lacked cough mixture, sore throat medicine, paracetamol, antihistamines and asthma medicine .

“I’m worried in case we really run out of medicine, what will happen to my patients?” she lamented

She believes the shortage was due to more people being on the move these days, compared to when travel restrictions and work-from-home orders were enforced.

The chairman of the Malaysian Private Hospital Association, Datuk, Dr Kuljit Singh, however, said he believed the situation was not alarming, especially as it did not involve any life-threatening medical condition. .

“Manufacturers will supply according to demand – if it is high they will increase supply, so I think they have now started to realize there is a shortage and are stepping up production.

“The situation is improving, the last two to three weeks have been bad.

“We can always get alternative drugs at short notice. Once the stock comes back, we can switch to more mainstream brands,” he added.

Comments are closed.