KUALA LUMPUR, 5th June – The head of the Parliamentary Health Committee, Dr Kelvin Yii, today warned the government that the current drug shortage is likely to affect the entire health system due to disruptions in the global supply, unlike previous perennial shortages.
Dr Yii, who chairs Dewan Rakyat’s health, science and innovation committee, told the government to take the current drug shortage seriously, highlighting Malaysia’s vulnerable position as an importer net of pharmaceuticals.
He quoted global trade experts who estimate it will take up to a year for global supply chains to return to normal, following the Covid-19 pandemic and the recent two-month lockdown of China in the commercial center of Shanghai.
Global trade expert Vincent Stamer told the German press DW last month that he expects global supply chains “not to return to normal this calendar year” as port and shipping bottlenecks are tough problems to solve. He added that some “easing” should be seen over the next 12 months, but only if China does not impose new lockdowns in its zero Covid policy.
“This problem is slowly spreading through the system now, and it’s only a matter of time before the public really feels it, especially once supplies run out, including generic drugs, then it may be -to be too late to do anything,” said Dr Yii. in a statement today.
“Although the Ministry of Health (MOH), including Deputy Minister of Health Datuk Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali, has downplayed the seriousness of the problem and the drug shortage is under control, this problem cannot be taken lightly. lightly because these shortages are different from the previous ones. shortages, because this will affect the entire health system, both public and private, because it is a global supply problem.
While Malaysia has historically experienced minor shortages of medicines in the public health system towards the end of the year, such as cancer drugs, the Covid-19 pandemic has caused massive disruptions to global supply chains which have been compounded by severe lockdowns in China this year and the ongoing Russian-Ukrainian war.
Dr. Yii called on the Ministry of Health to spell out clear short-, medium- and long-term policies to mitigate the impact of the current drug shortage on the health system.
The DAP health spokesperson has suggested that the National Medicines Regulatory Agency (NPRA) immediately undertake a thorough audit and inventory of all pharmaceutical stocks in public and private healthcare facilities to understand the full extent shortage of drugs in the country.
“It’s also important that they determine manufacturers’ manufacturing capabilities, turnover rate and inventory holdings.”
He added that local and multinational pharmaceutical manufacturers must ensure sufficient manufacturing capacity of innovative and generic drugs for stockpiling.
“Secondly, I think the Ministry of Health should require concession companies, such as Pharmaniaga and other central contracting companies, to prioritize their inventory and supplies to Ministry of Health facilities, where visit more than 70% of the general population.
“These supplies must then be properly distributed based on a ‘ring strategy’ to ensure that the areas most in need receive them first.”
The DAP health spokesperson said the Department of Health may also issue an advisory to health care providers to start rationing certain drugs now to guard against the high likelihood that current stocks will run out. not sufficient.
“Medication wastage should also be reduced by reconsidering the quantities and duration of prescriptions when reassessing patients.”
Dr Yii asked the government to consider exploring new pharmaceutical markets in other countries to find other suppliers and brands of over-the-counter drugs made in Indonesia or Egypt.
“Such arrangements can be made through import permits to ensure adequate supply in our country at this time.”
China is the world’s largest supplier of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) and pharmaceutical intermediates – components necessary for the production of drugs.
In the long term, Dr Yii said the government should plan a national drug safety strategy to boost local production of APIs, as Malaysia’s entire supply of finished pharmaceuticals is either directly imported or indirectly imported for local manufacturing via API import.
“While this is likely to be a temporary problem, it is still unclear how temporary it will be and when it comes to essential items such as medication, it should not be taken at the ready. light.”
Private hospitals and GP clinics have complained of a shortage of medicines such as antibiotics and over-the-counter medicines for fever, flu, cough and cold, including pediatric medicines, such as cough and flu syrups for children.
Local pharmaceutical suppliers attribute current drug shortages in Malaysia to recent Chinese lockdowns and the Russian-Ukrainian war which have exacerbated global supply problems triggered by prolonged global lockdowns in the past two years of the pandemic, amid rising local and global demand as countries reopened this year.
The Malaysian Association of Pharmaceutical Suppliers (MAP), which represents local pharmaceutical importers, predicts that the drug shortage in Malaysia will worsen and spread to all therapeutic segments. Suppliers have told private doctors to expect shortages of raw materials for drugs to continue until September or until the end of the year.