COVID-19 Poses A Threat to Drug Supply Chain in Malaysia

In the midst of COVID-19 pandemic, drug supply chain in Malaysia was greatly affected as many countries had imposed lockdown measures to break the chain of transmission of COVID-19.

According to Amrahi Buang, the president of Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society (MPS), the spread of the Coronavirus at a breakneck speed resulted in the shutting down of pharmaceutical factories in China and India, could spark a shortage crisis in medicine. This is because China is the main supplier in producing most of the active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) used in drugs. Closure of pharmaceutical factories in China will disrupt the supply-chain and production of medicines, lead to great impacts on country and people.

In Malaysia, seventy percent of medicines are imported and some multinational companies obtain their APIs from China and Indonesia. API is the central component of a medicine that is important in determining the efficiency and safety of a medication. Without APIs, production of medicine has to be halted due to deficiency of active ingredients. In this context, healthcare facilities are advised to conduct stock checking of medicines from time to time and rationalising the supply base to ensure there is enough medicine supply for patients. Any shortage in medicine will cause patients to defer treatment and diseases to run rampant, resulting in an increase in morbidity and mortality.

In conclusion, government and healthcare facilities have to work together to prevent shortages of common generic drugs in Malaysia, especially during this global pandemic.