KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 29 — Public hospitals throughout the country are still getting their supplies of COVID-19 medicines despite a drastic increase in demand and disruption in supplies from producers, said Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.
He said medicines were still being received in stages as the Health Ministry (MoH) had taken various approaches to overcome the problem of supply.
He said the demand for medicines used in the treatment of COVID-19 had increased drastically since May this year, following a spike in cases not only in Malaysia but also worldwide.
Dr Noor Hisham said the demand for medicines in the country had increased by 10 to 15 times compared to the pre-COVID-19 pandemic period, which affected the level of stocks for COVID-19 medicines in public hospitals.
“MoH was told of disruptions in supplies from pharmaceutical companies overseas following the pandemic and local manufacturers also have limited capability to provide a big amount of stocks in a short period.
“This is due to a shortage of raw materials faced by producers and an unstable flow of additional raw materials into the country,” he said in a statement today in response to media reports on the shortage of these drugs.
Dr Noor Hisham said MoH had taken several measures to overcome the problem, including keeping in constant communication with suppliers to get priority in supply for Malaysia and seeking alternative sources of medications under federal contracts.
MoH has also made emergency procurements at the national and state Health Department levels, apart from facilitating off-contract purchases for 21 types of medicines related to COVID-19 treatment.
“MoH also continues to hold discussions with medical specialists on alternative medicines that are suitable for use to ensure continuity in treatment.
“This is not limited to the Ministry of Health Medicines Formulary but encompasses all registered and non-registered medicines which can be obtained to meet our needs,” he added.
Dr Noor Hisham said for the sake of the people’s well-being, MoH was committed to cooperating with various parties to ensure the availability of medical supplies and the quality, safety and efficacy of medicines procured.
Yesterday, a news portal quoted sources as saying that many government hospitals across the country are facing a critical shortage of medications, including Clexane, which is an important anti-coagulant drug used for COVID-19 treatment.