KUALA LUMPUR, April 1 — A manufacturer said it has sufficient supply of face masks for government hospitals in Malaysia so far, even though usage has doubled during the Covid-19 outbreak.
Medidata Sdn Bhd, which is the sole manufacturer of face masks for Malaysian government hospitals, also said it was not affected by the reduced ceiling price for three-ply surgical face masks from RM2 to RM1.50 a piece that came into effect today, as it had its own pricing agreement with the government. Medidata doesn’t do retail sales.
“We have a low price. It’s a very specific price for government hospitals, so fluctuation of price doesn’t affect us much,” Medidata representative Zaty Afiqah told CodeBlue yesterday, adding that its face mask price for public hospitals was confidential.
“So far, we don’t have production problems,” she said.
“As for now, we are not receiving complaints on the stock. So far, no calls saying they can’t get, they just say they do get, but not a lot.
“We doubled up our production already. At our warehouse, we don’t keep much, we just keep sending and sending out.”
According to Zaty, Medidata sends face masks twice weekly to Pharmaniaga Berhad, a local pharmaceutical company, that distributes them to government medical facilities.
Ideal Healthcare Sdn Bhd, a local face mask manufacturer, told Free Malaysia Today that local manufacturers were hampered by the RM1.50 ceiling price due to higher import duties and raw material costs that exceeded the price for finished products.
The manufacturer, which said it comprises a quarter of Malaysia’s domestic production, said it would cease production of face masks once all its available materials are used up.
The Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society (MPS), a pharmacists’ group, criticised the lowering of the ceiling price for face masks to RM1.50 just nine days after the RM2 price was first announced on March 21.
MPS pointed out that many community pharmacies had placed orders for face masks when the ceiling price was raised to RM2, as the cost price was slightly lower than RM2.
“Many had paid in full or paid 50 per cent of the deposit for stocks which are only due to arrive in April 2020,” MPS said in a statement.
“The reduction of the ceiling price to RM1.50 caught community pharmacies by surprise and leaves them no avenue to clear their existing stocks. Despite the removal of import and sales taxes, in states like Sabah and Sarawak, the cost is still high due to transportation charges. Therefore, many pharmacies in these states are receiving the face masks at the high price of RM1.90.”
MPS urged the government to either subsidise pharmacies that will incur losses or give them a deferment of at least one month to clear out their stocks.