With Vizag witnessing a rapid rise in covid-19 cases, the medicine and drug sellers across the city have appealed to the state government to intervene and find a way to stop a growing trend of “panic buying” of certain medicines by some people leading to a mismatch in demand and supply.
Among the many medicines, a certain variety of antibiotics, vitamin C and multi-vitamin tablets are sometimes being prescribed by doctors to treat asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic Covid patients in home isolation. Various chemists said while a physician’s prescription would be for a lone family member who has tested positive, a buyer would usually end up procuring the medicines in bulk for the rest of the family members often in anticipation that many others might fall ill.
Various chemists termed the “panic buying” is a reflection of fear across many homes. Most of the families that Hello Vizag spoke to said they had bought more than their immediate quota of medicines out of fear of infecting with the virus in the future. Higher officials of the health department said there is little they could do to formulate a policy that would prevent people from buying certain medicines in bulk. Few of these drugs, including Vitamin C tablets were never on the top priority list before. As a matter of fact, the pandemic has changed it all.
Medical shop owners from parts of Akkyyapalem, MVP Colony, KGH down, Madhurawada and Gazuwaka said the trend for bulk buying has been growing every day with the rising number of Covid cases. “Every so often, people are coming to shop and asking us on whether there is any ban on the sale of some of these medicines in bulk quantity and why we wouldn’t give it to them when they were ready to pay,” said a medicine shop owner of Somanath medical near KGH hospital.
Among them, few have been coming and showing names of certain drugs that they have found on the internet and asking for multiple strips of these medicines.” Due to this, various medicines vanishing from the shelves faster than their supplies reach the shops. In view, wholesale and retail medicine sellers appealed to the health department to find a way to address this demand-supply gap.
Suppose, if Vizag requires around two lakh strips of Doxycycline in normal times, the demand has shot past the five lakh figure now,” said a shop owner in Akkyyapalem. And the same holds true for a few other medicines including vitamin-C, vitamin-C with zinc.”So, across wholesale medicine hubs in the Vizag city, traders have been sending a list of certain medicines on WhatsApp asking their counterparts to stock up as much as possible from the distributors to meet the demand. But the distributors are saying they can only ask the pharma companies to increase their supplies to Vizag but they can’t force them,” said a member of the association of drug sellers in Vizag.