Private hospitals and multinational pharmaceutical companies find solutions to Malaysia’s drug shortage
KUALA LUMPUR, July 6 – Groups representing private hospitals and multinational pharmaceutical companies (MNCs) have jointly proposed several short- and long-term measures to address drug shortages in Malaysia.
The Private Hospital Association of Malaysia (APHM) and the Pharmaceutical Association of Malaysia (PhAMA) held a meeting in Kuala Lumpur last Friday – attended by the CEOs of 17 private hospitals and seven multinational pharmaceutical companies – to discuss related issues. drug supply and pricing, as well as to better understand the current problem of critically running out drug supplies.
The two associations acknowledged that the current shortage of medicines in Malaysia was unusually severe this time around, due to disruptions to the global pharmaceutical supply chain triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic over the past two years, including a two-month harsh lockdown in Shanghai, China earlier this year and Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine.
Notably, APHM and PhAMA also hinted at possible drug price increases due to rising cost of pharmaceutical production, including logistics, crucial pharmaceutical ingredients, and labor. work.
“Sporadic drug shortages are not a new phenomenon in the healthcare ecosystem; However, APHM and PhAMA recognize that the unstable conditions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and conflict in some parts of the world have disrupted business operations and logistics in unprecedented ways,” said the President of the APHM. APHM, Dr. Kuljit Singh, and PhAMA President, Chin Keat Chyuan. in a joint statement today.
“While also affected by global issues of logistical bottlenecks and labor shortages, PhAMA and APHM members agree that there should be no compromise on the patient safety and treatment outcomes.
“This is where all parties involved must remain engaged to co-create short- and long-term solutions that will improve the healthcare landscape and add value to care delivery.”
APHM and PhAMA are committed to six actions to address drug shortages:
- Early notification to health care providers of the possibility of a shortage of a certain product, so that measures can be put in place for alternatives. The reporting mechanism will include other stakeholders such as the National Medicines Regulatory Agency (NPRA), the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA), a group of doctors, among others, to effective communications.
- Products that may be discontinued should be reported to health care providers well in advance so that contingency plans can be put in place.
- Improved coordination and solidarity between all parties to facilitate the borrowing of medicines in times of critical shortage.
- APHM and PhAMA will work together to engage with the Ministry of Health’s Pharmacy Services Program (PSP) and NPRA to improve access to medicines for patients.
- Embrace the digitization of healthcare to speed up manual processes, such as implementing electronic labeling of paper inserts to address labor shortage issues and a dashboard/app for the drug inventory tracking.
- Continued engagement on drug pricing and health financing given significant increases in the cost of logistics, active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), labor and others.
code blue previously reported extensively on the problem of drug shortages in Malaysia, with shortages being reported by private clinics and private hospital supply pharmacists since May – much earlier than the conventional shortages which typically occur towards the end of the year.
Recently reported shortages extend to several antibiotics; over-the-counter medicines for fever, flu, cough and cold; children’s syrups, including essential asthma medicines; and even drugs related to seizures and the central nervous system for mental or brain disorders like epilepsy, anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and Parkinson’s disease.
The Malaysian Association of Pharmaceutical Suppliers (MAPS), which represents local pharmaceutical importers, noted that Malaysia is particularly vulnerable to global supply chain disruptions as Malaysia is a net importer of pharmaceuticals. Malaysia imports finished pharmaceutical products, as well as APIs and pharmaceutical intermediates needed for the local manufacture of medicines.
Following this information, the Minister of Health, Khairy Jamaluddin, issued a statement indicating that the Ministry of Health had opened its drug stocks to private health institutions facing drug shortages, with a mechanism for clinics or private hospitals to request drugs from Ministry of Health establishments.
code blue reported that drug shortages affect health facilities disproportionately; private clinics and hospitals are more vulnerable to supply shocks due to their smaller inventory than Ministry of Health facilities. The Ministry of Health and teaching hospitals are also rationing prescriptions to deal with drug shortages.