PETALING JAYA: The shortage of certain types of medicine, especially for fever, cough, cold and sore throat has become acute, says the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA).
Its president Dr Koh Kar Chai said the situation has 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 on Wednesday (July 13).
"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."
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Dr Koh added that the situation was compounded by a shortage of raw materials, which 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.
The shortage also placed stress on medical practitioners who had to continuously source for alternative medical supplies.
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Dr Koh said the Health Ministry had offered clinics facing insufficient stock to tap into its pharmaceutical supplies as a short-term measure, as have certain private hospitals, but these were not feasible for the long term.
He said there were also claims that big buyers making large purchases had deprived 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.