It is difficult for Hanoians to buy cough medicine and throat spray

Mr. Tuan, 43 years old, went to Hoang Minh pharmacy on Vu Trong Phung street, Thanh Xuan district, on March 7 asked to buy cough syrup; The seller shook his head “it’s over”.

Tuan’s father and wife are taking cough medicine every day, stockpiles at home ran out after two weeks of use. He asked 3-4 stores and they couldn’t buy it.

Hoang Minh pharmacy is located near Hapulico market, which is considered the largest pharmaceutical transaction center in Hanoi. A pharmacy representative said that for a week now, Nam Ha tonics, VinaHo syrup, Betadine throat spray, Kovir resistance-boosting tablets… are scarce, “not available for sale”.

Many people also find it difficult to buy goods, even going to Thai Thinh drug market, Dong Da district. Nhung, 25 years old, went to Thu Ha pharmacy, number 1L5 Thai Thinh, asked to buy supplements, and was told that the medicine was out. A representative of Thu Ha pharmacy said that many people ask to buy 5-10 bottles of syrup at a time, it is estimated that a day “can sell up to several hundred bottles” in case of sufficient supply. However, the supplies are all out of stock, and it is not clear when they will be supplied.

Nhung contracted Covid-19 from the beginning of March, tested negative after more than a week of home treatment. She coughed more when she recovered, coughing until she was exhausted. The doctor examined and prescribed medicine, but recommended that she use herbal cough syrup instead of western medicine with many side effects.

Can’t buy salt water Physiological (NaCl 0.9%) washes the nose, gargles at the drugstore, Hien, 38 years old, in Tay Ho district, goes to shopping sites on social networks to search. A seller who lives in her apartment building sells salt water but is limited to buying two bottles at a time. “This person said that the goods are currently on drip, so they only sell in small quantities. In addition, a box of German cough lozenges is also one and a half times more expensive than the usual price, but there are no goods to buy,” Hien said.

Hien suffered from laryngitis and acute bronchitis, coughed a lot at night, and did not have saline solution to wash her nose and support herbs, making her condition worse. Disappointed, she called family members living in Viet Tri and Phu Tho to buy salt water and a bottle of Nam Ha waste and send it to Hanoi. The bag is worth 150,000 VND, but the shipping fee is 100,000 VND for an hour and a half driving.

On social networks, many people selling cough syrup, nose and throat spray, all said that they cannot sell more than 10 bottles to retail customers. A drug dealer named Tra explained “due to less medicine in stock”. Previously, it was possible to import hundreds of bottles of cough syrup and salt water, now the quantity is less than one hundred. Sellers must limit each person to no more than two vials, to ensure everyone has access to the drug. The most scarce items are Nam Ha waste syrup and some products of Nam Duoc company, because these are popular brands and have been used by many people.

According to Tra, pharmacies and drug sellers only import products from the company or submit to pharmacists. If this brand drug is out of stock, the pharmacist advises the buyer to use other drugs with similar ingredients. However, most customers are afraid to buy new brand drugs, afraid of buying fake drugs.

People buy medicine to support Covid-19 treatment at Hoang Minh pharmacy, March 7. Photo: Van Phong

Labor crisis causes shortage of drugs

In the past month, the number of infections in Hanoi has increased nearly 10 times, from nearly 3,000 cases on February 9 to more than 31,000 cases in a row in the past days. Many F0s are workers who have to be quarantined, leaving businesses with labor shortages. This situation also occurs in pharmaceutical companies, which is the main cause of drug shortages.

A representative of Nam Duoc Company (with cough syrup for children and adults, sinus decongestant spray…) said that production progress was greatly affected when Covid-19 spread strongly. The production department of the company has 220 employees, 60 people are F0, not healthy enough to work.

Besides, the drug market demand has increased dramatically compared to every year and before Tet. The representative of Nam Duoc estimated that the product demand increased about 3-4 times in the group of children and 5-6 times in the group of adults. Many people have a “preparing to be F0” mentality, so they buy it and keep it at home. “This situation happened so suddenly that the company could not stock up on products to supply, thereby causing a shortage of drugs,” a representative of Nam Duoc said.

A representative of a physiological saline production unit shared that it was difficult to find a source for packaging and bottles. “The company that supplies the bottles can’t produce the goods in time, and the number of F0 and F1 employees is also high, so there is no labor force,” this person said. Orders to supply physiological saline of this unit are currently postponed.

Another reason for the shortage of drugs in the market is that pharmacies have little business capital, small reserves, when they run out of stock, they call for supply or do not require supply, according to a representative of Sao Thai Duong Company. Therefore, pharmacies are “passive” in terms of supply while demand is high, causing a local shortage of drugs.

Representatives of pharmaceutical companies said that the “scarcity situation is only temporary and occurs mainly in the group of famous and adult products”. The units are rapidly planning production and supply to the market.

Nam Duoc Company expects to ensure the supply of drugs by the second half of March, as early as March 20. Currently, the company is preparing pharmaceutical materials and packaging for production. As for products for children, the company still has enough products to supply and serve people’s needs. A representative of Sao Thai Duong company said that it still meets the market demand in the form of retail or wholesale, even delivering only a few products.

The Ministry of Health currently has no direction to overcome this shortage of supportive drugs. Meanwhile, taking advantage of the increased demand for antibacterial spray and scarcity of goods, some people sell fake goods to make a profit. Nghe An police on March 9 arrested two sellers of fake antibacterial sprays, by buying ingredients and preparing 4,500 bottles themselves, moving them to Vinh City to sell 20,000-30,000 VND a bottle. On March 3, another person, also in Vinh City, was found to buy solutions such as hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, and essential oils to make fake bottles of antiseptic water.



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