The global Covid-19 pandemic has forced countries to close their borders, which is adversely affecting the delivery of pharmaceutical raw materials and packaging. Also, hospitals have been dispensing six-month quotas for chronic patients to cut down on congestion and reduce the risk of the spread of the virus. Plus, hospitals are also increasing their stocks.
This unexpected outbreak has hit the stockpile of five or six medicines, which are being used in the treatment of Covid-19. In normal circumstances, GPO usually purchases raw materials and equipment at least six months in advance to slowly build up stocks for at least two to three months.
However, when Covid-19 hit Thailand at the end of January, GPO has had to continually adjust its production plan and focus on essential medicines for chronic diseases by pushing for speedy delivery of raw materials and production equipment, such as the high-speed automatic pill-filling machines from Germany. GPO also started looking for new sources of material once shipments started getting stuck.
So far, it has found five sources in India for lipid-lowering medication Simvastatin and has been able to increase its production capacity from 56 million tablets per month to 62 million.
GPO also has three sources in India for chemicals used in the production of Amlodipine to treat high-blood pressure and coronary diseases, and it will be able to boost its monthly production capacity from 50 million pills to 75 million.
With three sources of raw materials, one in China and two in India, GPO has also been able to boost its capacity for the production of diabetes drug Metformin, high-blood pressure drug Losartan as well as all 22 anti-retroviral drugs.
Overall, GPO is expected to increase its production capacity for essential drugs by about 30 per cent this month and up to 50 per cent from May onwards.
Dr Mukdavan also called on hospitals to time the prescription of medicines in line with the deliveries from GPO and arrange for the medication to be sent to the patients by post or through the nearest pharmacy.