Country fast running out of drugs for chronic diseases

The Pharmaceutical Council has asked the government to build up its reserves of medicines for chronic conditions because it is expecting severe shortages within a month.

The council joined many players in the industry to discuss the effects Covid-19 is having on the production of pharmaceuticals and came up with five ways on Tuesday (April 14) of solving the problem so people with chronic disease have access to sufficient medication.

The Government Pharmaceutical Organisation (GPO) recently notified several hospitals that it has run out of certain medications for more than a month and that the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association of Thailand is finding it difficult to procure raw materials.

The Public Health Ministry is also being pushed to find ways of resolving the situation, especially since many suppliers in countries like China, India, Europe and the United States have also been hit by the pandemic.

Meanwhile, the Pharmaceutical Council announced the following proposals to tackle the situation:

1. The government should find a way to centralise the procurement and distribution of essential drugs by getting the policy and management levels as well as related departments such as the Pharmaceutical Organisation, the Thai Association of Modern Pharmaceutical Industries, the Pharmaceutical Council and experts to work together.

2. The Public Health Ministry should come up with a policy to place drug orders six months in advance, though delivery can be done gradually, giving factories time to prepare raw materials for production.

3. Ensure payments are made within a month so the pharmaceutical industry can reserve raw materials for six months more than the current set up of three months.

4. In case of shortages, the government should be ready to negotiate government-to-government deals with countries producing raw materials, such as China and India, and even arrange aircraft to pick-up ingredients, pharmaceutical products as well as packaging.

5. The pharmaceutical industry should be allowed to stock up on raw materials for at least six months.

The Pharmaceutical Council has said access to medication for chronic patients is an urgent issue that requires immediate resolution. If no immediate action is taken, there will be chaos in less than a month.