These medicines are used to treat many common diseases and a shortage could negatively impact the quality of care provided to the rakyat.
We urge the following:
1. Streamline approval process for alternate purchase and medicines requiring special authorization in MOH facilities
Malaysia procures medicines from alternate suppliers or with special authorization from the Director-General of Health or Senior Director of Pharmaceutical Services in two situations: when original suppliers cannot fulfill the orders or when medicines are not listed in the Ministry of Health (MOH) Medicines Formulary.
Alternate suppliers and special authorization are necessary during shortages. Therefore, the approval process for these regulations should be streamlined to improve efficiency and reduce the waiting period for decisions.
This is important especially during situations posing public health risks such as medicines shortage, especially during an ongoing COVID pandemic.
2. Strengthen local manufacturing capacity for medicines
Currently, Malaysia is a net importer of pharmaceutical products in three categories: finished pharmaceutical products, active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), and pharmaceutical intermediates for local manufacturing.
Consequently, the supplies of pharmaceutical products are impacted following supply chain disruptions such as the ongoing Russia-Ukraine War and lockdowns in China.
Therefore, we must strengthen our local capacity of pharmaceutical goods manufacturing to minimize the impact from future disruptions.
This must be accompanied by Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) to ensure all locally manufactured medicines meet the required standards of safety, quality and efficacy in line with Malaysian National Medicines Policy.
The government must provide a favorable policy, tax and regulatory climate for private sector investment in this sector.
3. Strengthen collaboration between public and private sectors through medicine stock loans and medicine utilization data-sharing
The MOH’s swift action in assisting private healthcare facilities through medicine stock loans by public healthcare facilities is commendable.
Collaboration between the public and private sectors should be promoted to improve healthcare delivery to patients. These collaborations need transparent data-sharing, especially on prices and medicines utilization.
MOH must lead and coordinate the medicine utilisation data collection process to improve current medicines procurement strategy and prioritize distribution of medicines to facilities with higher demands.
We urge the government to take immediate short-term and long-term actions to ensure the sustainability of medicine supply. This is crucial to ensure the health of the rakyat.