The medicine shortage in the country has now become acute, especially those used in treating fever, cough, cold and sore throat, says the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA).
According to The Star, MMA president Dr Koh Kar Chai said the shortage was made worsened with the increase in Covid-19 cases due to the Omicron variant as well as relaxation of standard operating procedures, including the reopening of borders.
“During the pandemic, demand for such medications was at an all-time low, leading to the expiry of medicines in storage, with manufacturers scaling down production,” he said.
“However, with a sudden increase in demand, manufacturers have had to resume or scale up production to cope, and this can’t happen overnight due to the immense logistical and resource issues involved.”
Apart from the above factors, Dr Koh said the shortage of raw materials had also contributed to the situation. But this was not confined to Malaysia but was also seen in many other countries.
“All this has given rise to a logistical nightmare for suppliers as well as purchasers as no one knows when a medicine may suddenly become unavailable in the market,” he said.
Meanwhile, the shortage has also placed stress on medical practitioners who had to continuously search for alternative medical supplies.
Dr Koh said the Health Ministry had offered clinics and private hospitals facing insufficient medical supplies to tap into its pharmaceutical supplies as a short-term measure, but emphasizes that this is not feasible for the long term.
He also highlighted that there were claims of big buyers making large purchases to deprive smaller purchasers like clinics of their supply.
“We hope there is no truth to this and that supplies can be shared out in the market so that patients will have access to much-needed medicines,” he added.