KUALA LUMPUR, June 3 – The Ministry of Health (MOH) today assured Malaysians that not a single type of medicine has completely run out yet.
Pharmaceutical regulators said this is because there are other brand alternatives for most drugs with the same indication, or same use to treat a particular disease.
“Manufacturers have also increased manufacturing capacity to fulfil high demand,” Norhaliza A Halim, senior director of the MOH’s pharmacy services division, said in a statement.
“The Health Ministry is currently obtaining further information from the industry on the actual status of the supply of medicines that are either produced in Malaysia or imported, along with other related issues.”
Norhaliza said that MOH’s pharmacy services division met with the Malaysian Association of Pharmaceutical Suppliers (MAPS), the Malaysian Organisation of Pharmaceutical Industries (MOPI), and the Pharmaceutical Association of Malaysia (PhAMA) yesterday to discuss the reported medicine shortages in the country.
“According to the industry, there has been a surge in demand for various types of medicines, such as pharmaceutical products with paracetamol active ingredients (to treat fever and mild pain), vitamin C, and cough and flu medications for children.”
CodeBlue reported earlier today that the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA), which is under MOH’s pharmacy services division, had asked local pharmaceutical suppliers and manufacturers, as well as multinational drug makers – represented by MAPS, MOPI, and PhAMA respectively – to quickly help address the medicine shortage, according to a source who attended yesterday’s meeting.
CodeBlue reported earlier yesterday complaints from private general practitioners (GPs) that various prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications — such as antibiotics, and medicines for fever, flu, cough and cold, as well as paediatric cough and flu syrups — are already out of stock.
The shortages affect both generic and original medications; mouth ulcer sprays are also running short due to the current surge of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) outbreaks
Local pharmaceutical suppliers expect Malaysia’s medicine shortages to worsen until September or end of the year, with MAPS projecting drugs to run scarce across all therapeutic segments in the mid- to long-term.
MAPS attributed the “critical” medicine shortage to the two-month lockdown in Shanghai, China, and the Russia-Ukraine war that disrupted global supply of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), and pharmaceutical intermediates and excipients — raw materials needed to create finished pharmaceutical products.
Malaysia’s entire supply of finished pharmaceutical products are either directly imported or indirectly imported through the import of those raw materials for the local manufacture of medicines.
MAPS had said Malaysia was “severely affected” by the Shanghai lockdown and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine because Malaysia depends on the global supply of both APIs and finished pharmaceutical products. China is the world’s number one supplier of APIs and pharmaceutical intermediates.
Global pharmaceutical supply challenges mean that medicine shortages would likely hit Malaysian health care facilities across the board in both the public and private sectors.