NGO wants clarity on drug supplies

NGO wants clarity on drug supplies

Hospitals still facing medicine shortages

A man collects his medicine from a dispensing machine at Rajavithi Hospital as the ‘Outpatients under Self-Isolation’ system is being offered to people with Covid-19 who have mild or no symptoms. (Photo: Somchai Poomlard)
A man collects his medicine from a dispensing machine at Rajavithi Hospital as the ‘Outpatients under Self-Isolation’ system is being offered to people with Covid-19 who have mild or no symptoms. (Photo: Somchai Poomlard)

The Rural Doctor Society (RDS) is urging the Ministry of Public Health to be transparent about the country's supply of anti-viral favipiravir medicine so hospitals can better manage their stocks of the drug.

According to the RDS, Thailand is currently low on favipiravir -- the main medicine for Covid-19 treatment -- and has called on the ministry to better inform hospitals about the situation.

"What every hospital wants to know is how much it will get and for how long they will have to wait to get the next batch so that they can best manage stocks," the RDS said on its Facebook.

"Their challenge is that they don't know when they will be allocated. They need to know to make the best out of it in times of shortage."

It is the second time in a month that the RDS has complained about shortages of the drug.

In a Facebook post in late February, the RDS said it was in short supply to the extent that several hospitals restricted its distribution to patients, except to those aged over 80.

In the latest post, the RDS said the situation has not improved even though hospitals follow the Department of Medical Services (DMS) guidelines where the drug is to be administered to those over 60.

The RDS said that in some areas worst hit by shortages, the drug will be only prescribed to those with pneumonia.

As favipiravir can reduce severe symptoms if taken within the first two days of infection, maintaining a sufficient stock is important, said the RDS while citing research findings from Siriraj Hospital.

The RDS said the ministry should explain why there is a shortage of the drug and further clarify if there is any substance to a rumour that the Government Pharmaceutical Organization will cease production of the drug and will only import it.

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said on Monday that locally produced and imported favipiravir pills are distributed to the provinces.

He said the ministry has also procured other drugs including remdesivir, molnupiravir and nirmatrelvir for treating Covid-19 patients and these medicines are administered based on the patients' symptoms.

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