Potential shortage of antibiotics, OTC drugs not to be taken lightly, warns Bandar Kuching MP

Dr Kelvin Yii

KUCHING, June 5: Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii is urging the government not to take lightly the possible shortage of medicine supplies in Malaysia.

He pointed out medical bodies in the country have warned of the potential shortage of medication such as antibiotics and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs for fever, flu, cough and cold, including syrups for children.

The Malaysian Association of Pharmaceutical Suppliers (MAPS), Association of Private Hospitals Malaysia (APHM), Medical Practitioners Coalition Association of Malaysia (MPCAM), and Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) were among those who have sounded the alarm.

“The two-month hardcore lockdown in Shanghai, China, and the Russia-Ukraine war have sparked major shortages of various prescription and OTC medications in Malaysia.

“This is because Malaysia’s entire supply of finished pharmaceutical products are either directly imported, or indirectly imported through the import of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) and pharmaceutical intermediates for local manufacture.

“Both of which have been disrupted due to these external events and a surge in both local and global demand for medicines,” he said in a statement today.

Dr Yii thus urged the Ministry of Health (MOH) to spell out short-term, mid-term, and long-term policies to address the issue to minimise its potential effect on Malaysia’s healthcare system.

In the short-term, he suggested the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) to do an extensive audit and stock count of all pharmaceutical stocks in both public and private health facilities to understand the full extent of Malaysia’s medicine shortage.

For the longer term, he proposed the ‘national medicine security strategy’ which must include plans for local production of APIs and increased stockholding by local pharmaceutical manufacturers and importers.

“While this likely is a temporary issue, how temporary it will be is still unknown and when it comes to essential items such as medication, it must not be taken lightly,” he added. — DayakDaily