The company is also experiencing a surge in requests for personal protective equipment, such as protective masks and gloves
by AZREEN HANI / pic by HUSSEIN SHAHARUDDIN
PHARMANIAGA Bhd, the country’s largest medical distributor, has recorded a 10-fold increase in demand for flu vaccines and medications as a result of the recent seasonal influenza virus outbreak.
MD Datuk Farshila Emran (picture) said the company is also experiencing a surge in requests for personal protective equipment (PPE), such as protective masks and gloves, as a direct reaction to the global coronavirus outbreak.
Despite the spike in demand, she said the supply for flu medications is still adequate and that the firm is well-prepared to manage the situation.
Farshila told The Malaysian Reserve that the company’s delivery and logistic services have been ramped up to meet the demand from public hospitals with the assurance of adequate supplies of the essentials.
“We have received the amount of stock order supplies for 10 months within only a month,” Farshila said, naming Tamiflu as one of the medications that are highly in demand by hospitals.
“This is before the coronavirus outbreak. After that, we have been getting more requests and orders on PPE products,” she added.
Influenza A, which also includes subtype H1N1, is an infection with flu symptoms such as fever, sore throat, cough, headache, muscle and joint pain, and fatigue.
While Pharmaniaga plays the role of a third-party administrator to purchase, store, supply and distribute at least 700 pharmaceutical products, it has also requested for manufacturers to increase productions of necessities amid the current situation.
Last month, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said the Ministry of Health (MoH) imported about 600,000 doses of vaccines last year alone, excluding the additional 92,700 doses that were purchased on Dec 2, 2018.
In the wake of the rising Influenza A cases around the country that could lead to the shortage of vaccine supply, he said another 16,800 doses of vaccines will be brought in by the MoH.
Pharmaniaga, according to Dr Dzulkefly, is also keeping a three-month stock of Influenza A vaccines.
Farshila said not only Pharmaniaga has the three-month stock as required under the concessions term, but the company will also constantly monitor and keep stocks for essential items.
She added that the company is well-prepared to assist the government on coronavirus.
“In the wake of a possible pandemic or epidemic, we usually will purchase these items first, immediately to ensure there will be enough supply. In this business, we have to be two steps ahead of everyone because it involves lives.
“We are very prepared to assist. Not only for influenza (cases), but if the government wants us to source other medications, we have no problem in doing so. We have adequate supply and stock holding of the essentials,” she said.
“Just like during the Dabong (Kelantan) flood, we did not only supply the medications, we also flew in additional essentials like mineral water to the hospitals there,” she said.
Farshila said Pharmaniaga will also be responsible to deliver polio vaccines to stateless children in Sabah, in partnership with Unicef.
“As far as we know, only Phamaniaga will be the partner because we have the facilities to deliver the vaccines,” she said, adding that the initiatives are expected to take place this month.
Last December, Health DG Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the MoH is planning to work with Unicef to get vaccines at a low cost for an immunisation programme for non-citizen children in the state, after the first case was detected in Malaysia in 30 years.
Dr Dzulkefly said the Philippines has agreed to fund polio vaccination of the children, with Unicef providing cheaper vaccines that will be administered by nongovernmental organisations.