KUALA LUMPUR, June 10 – The Children and Heart Specialist Clinic in Miri, Sarawak is on its last ventolin syrup bottle – a prescription medicine used to treat symptoms of acute or severe asthma.
Dr Philip Raja, a paediatrician and paediatric cardiologist who runs the private paediatric clinic in Miri town, told CodeBlue when contacted today that his clinic cannot conduct physical therapy to treat children with asthma, common fever, cough, and cold, as his medicine stocks are due to run out completely.
“My nurse tells me three days (of medicine supply). I can only sit in the clinic to do vaccination and treat gastroenteritis (stomach flu).
“Oh no! Eight bottles of ventolin syrup left. None already for tomorrow,” Dr Philip said in a series of text messages.
He added that his only antibiotic stock left is amoxicillin, having run out of Augmentin, Zinnat, Unasyn, azithromycin, E.E.S., and cephalexin. Dr Philip’s clinic still has stocks of Bactrim to treat urinary tract infection, as well as cloxacillin to mainly treat boils.
“Amoxicillin stock down to 150 bottles left. After this lot, I won’t have appropriate oral antibiotics for treatment of upper and lower respiratory tract infection,” he said.
Dr Philip wrote to CodeBlue last Wednesday that all of his various sources of medications from either his supplier or the local pharmacy are already out of stock — the first time he is facing a medicine shortage in the three decades of operating his clinic.
Dr Philip added that he has run out of ventolin nebules and ventolin solutions to treat asthma for more than two weeks.
“We have a Miri general practitioner (GP) chat group. In fact, all of us who have paediatric patients are facing similar problems,” Dr Philip said.
He has requested for temporary assistance from Miri Hospital, a public facility run by the federal Ministry of Health (MOH), to either sell or loan him drug supplies to tide his clinic over pending the delivery of long overdue stocks.
Dr Philip said an official from MOH’s pharmaceutical division in Miri contacted him earlier this morning, though he did not disclose details of the discussion. He was also approached by a representative from the Pharmaceutical Association of Malaysia (PhAMA) that represents multinational drug makers.
Sarawak Deputy Premier Dr Sim Kui Hian, who is also the state minister for public health, told CodeBlue today that he has asked federal Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin to intervene in the “serious medical issue”.
He also revealed that some private clinics in the city of Miri have already stopped seeing patients after their medicine supplies ran out.
When contacted, the Sarawak state health department told CodeBlue that the matter is under Putrajaya’s jurisdiction.
Khairy has yet to issue a statement, after CodeBlue contacted his office for a response.
The MOH issued a statement earlier today announcing that Khairy will attend the Harvard Ministerial Leadership Program at Harvard University in the United States from Sunday till Wednesday.
Update: This story was updated in paragraphs 5 and 6 on the shortage of various antibiotics in Dr Philip’s clinic.