Taiwan could limit bulk buying of painkillers as people stock up, with some planning to ship their purchases to China, where the worsening Covid-19 situation has strained supplies.
Hsueh Jui-yuan, Taiwan’s health and welfare minister, told lawmakers at a Legislative Committee hearing on Thursday that the health agency will first instruct pharmacies to advise customers not to buy Panadol and related drugs.
Health authorities are discussing whether to impose restrictions, but there is no concrete plan yet, Hsueh told reporters on Thursday, official Focus Taiwan news agency reported.
Taiwan has had a shortage of paracetamol and Covid-related medicines since May this year as local cases rose, several pharmacies in Taipei told the Guardian. One pharmacy said customers have come to stock up in recent weeks, fearing a surge in cases after Taiwan opened its borders to tourists in October.
“We ran out of Panadol fairly quickly and don’t expect supplies to be replenished anytime soon, probably after the Lunar New Year, which falls at the end of January next year,” said an employee at a pharmacy in Da’an district in the Downtown Taipei.
Some drug buyers in Taiwan want to ship or bring the painkiller to mainland China, where Covid-19 cases and deaths have surged after China eased its zero-Covid restrictions.
“I plan to buy a variety of drugs that can help fight Covid when I return to work in Shenzhen,” said Lee, a Taiwanese entrepreneur who gave only his last name and runs a cross-border e-commerce business operates in southern China. eastern city. “I even plan to resell some of the drugs to my friends.”
Chang, a Taiwanese product designer who works in Beijing and is currently vacationing in Taipei, said he plans to stock up on fever medication and rapid antigen test kits before returning to work early next year. “I feel like there’s a good chance I’ll get infected after I return to Beijing, so I’m stocking up on some medicine to avoid all the rush I might experience trying to get into drugs come.”
China is scrambling to ensure stable drug supplies after ending its nationwide zero-Covid policy. Authorities have implemented measures to properly allocate medical resources, including the requirement to produce medical supplies.
To counter the nationwide shortages, more than a dozen Chinese pharmaceutical companies have been tapped by officials to help “secure supplies” of essential drugs — a euphemism for seizure. According to Agence France-Presse, at least 11 out of 42 test kit manufacturers whose products are licensed by China’s medical regulators have had part of their production confiscated by the government or ordered by the state and local media reports.
AFP contributed to this report.