Thursday 22 Feb 2024
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KUALA LUMPUR (June 5): The government must come up with a clear policy to address the current shortage of medicines on top of a longer-term "national medicine security strategy" to be devised to prevent future drug shortages in Malaysia.

In a statement on Sunday (June 5), Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii Lee Wuen said the two-month hardcore lockdown in Shanghai, China, and Russia’s war in Ukraine have sparked major shortages of various prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications in Malaysia.

Yii, who is also DAP health spokesperson, said this was because Malaysia’s entire supply of finished pharmaceutical products are either directly imported, or indirectly imported through the import of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) and pharmaceutical intermediates for local manufacture — both of which have been disrupted due to these external events and a surge in both local and global demand for medicines.

Yii, a medical doctor by training, said even locally manufactured pharmaceutical products in Malaysia are heavily dependent on imported APIs and pharmaceutical intermediates.

He said China is the world’s number one supplier of APIs and pharmaceutical intermediates.

He said this issue is slowly rippling through the system now, and it's only a matter of time before the public really feels it, especially once the stockpiles are gone, including generic drugs, then it may be too late to do anything.

“In the short-term, the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) must do a extensive audit and stock count of all pharmaceutical stocks both public and private health facilities to understand the full extent of the country’s medicine shortage. It is also important [that] they determine manufacturing capacities of manufacturers, turn over rate and stockholding.

“The Malaysian Organisation of Pharmaceutical Industries (MOPI) and Pharmaceutical Association of Malaysia (PhAMA) needs to be committed to ensuring that manufacturers of both innovator and generic drugs have enough manufacturing capacity for enough stockpile of medicines,” he said.

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