Malaysia could be facing a medicine supply shortage if the supply and demand situation for pharmaceuticals is left uncorrected, warned the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA).
In a statement, MMA president Dr Koh Kah Chai said the insufficiency is partly caused by the high demand for common medications due to the spread of the Covid-19 variant Omicron.
He added that pharmaceutical companies, manufacturers, and distributors globally were caught off guard by the “unprecedented demand” for common medications brought on by the high incidence rate of the Omicron variant.
He also said that the issue has been ongoing since nations began easing lockdown measures and resumed economic activities.
Meanwhile, he said the industry in Malaysia has responded to the situation by placing larger orders to product manufacturers overseas, while local manufacturers scramble to increase production capacities.
However, these local productions are dependent on raw materials sourced from other countries and local manufacturers “cannot simply increase production just to address the shortfall of supplies in the market”.
Dr Koh also said that since the shortage was a worldwide problem, imports of both finished products as well as raw materials had been affected.
“It is not a simple matter to increase local production just to address the shortfall of supplies in the market,” he said.
“Raw materials aside, manufacturing plants are built to certain specifications which may not allow any sudden and massive increase in production rates.”
Thus, Dr Koh urged the authorities to rectify the supply-and-demand situation of pharmaceuticals in the Malaysian market to avoid the compounding matters.
“If uncorrected, even the supply of previously unaffected medications will be disrupted,” he warned.
Meanwhile, he also advised the public to avoid panic buying and unnecessarily hoarding medications that are not immediately needed.