KUALA LUMPUR, July 15 – Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin has instructed the Ministry of Health (MOH) to open up its federal medicine stockpile, amid persistent drug shortages in private clinics, pharmacies, and hospitals.
Khairy said this was on top of his earlier instruction for public health clinics under MOH to lend medicines to private health care facilities.
“To overcome some shortage of certain common medicines in private clinics & hospitals, I have asked for the federal @KKMPutrajaya medicine stockpile to be released and loaned to private medical facilities,” Khairy tweeted today.
“The lockdown in China, global supply chain disruption & an unexpected increase in influenza, common cough, cold & fever cases have resulted in the surge in demand. Local manufacturers have also been asked to ramp up production.”
New Straits Times quoted Khairy as saying at a press conference earlier today that government hospitals and clinics would lend medications for common illnesses like fever, flu and cough to private health care facilities, with the stock to be managed by local pharmaceutical company Pharmaniaga Bhd.
Doctors’ and pharmacist associations have been complaining about ongoing shortages of basic medications in private general practitioner (GP) clinics and community pharmacies, particularly for fever, cough and cold, and sore throat.
The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) said borrowing supplies from MOH and private hospitals was not a feasible solution for prolonged supply disruption, noting that there is also a shortage of pharmaceutical ingredients for the local manufacture of medicines.
MMA president Dr Koh Kar Chai noted that the medicine supply disruptions were sporadic and occurred in different locations.
The Medical Practitioners Coalition Association of Malaysia (MPCAM) reportedly estimated the shortage of basic medicines to persist until the end of the year, with Utusan Malaysia reporting the potential closure of about 11,000 private clinics and community pharmacies due to the drug shortage.
Khairy previously issued a statement saying that MOH has opened its medicine stocks to private health care facilities that are facing drug shortages, with a mechanism for private clinics or hospitals to make requests to borrow medicine supplies from MOH facilities.