Medicine shortage a global issue, say industry players

PETALING JAYA: The shortage of medicines is not unique to Malaysia as it is a global phenomenon, say industry players.

Federation of Asian Pharmaceutical Associations interim president-elect Lim Jack Shen said the issue stemmed mainly from gaps in the global supply chain.

“A lot of active ingredients and intermediates come from China. The pandemic has severely disrupted the normal production of medicines worldwide.

“As Malaysia relies heavily on imports from the United States, the United Kingdom, China and Australia, the supply of medicines is naturally affected.

“In addition, over the past two years, everyone has been focused on managing Covid-19 and neglected other medical conditions,” he added.

Malaysian Pharmacists Society president Amrahi Buang said the government should view the matter as a medicine security issue such as food security.

But he said the Health Ministry had taken steps to address the issue by having meetings with the industry manufacturers and importers.

“This is a channel for everyone – private clinics, community pharmacies and private hospitals – to share information on stock levels weekly and there is a mechanism to address the shortages. Preparedness is the key to addressing the issue,” he said.According to the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) shortages had been reported in countries in 2020 and included essential life-saving as well as commonly used medicines.

“The reasons for the shortage are complex and multifactorial. They include regulation, manufacturing and quality issues, supply, public procurement rules as well as political and economic factors.

“Adding to the complexity of the problem, there is an ever-growing demand for medicines due to ageing communities. This is compounded by the disruptions in the pharmaceutical chain,” it said.

FIP said concern was growing among stakeholders on the future of medicine supplies worldwide.

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