UPDATE : Friday, July 10, 2020
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Multinationals cause drug shortages -- again
  • By So Jae-hyeon
  • Published 2018.03.14 12:46
  • Updated 2018.03.14 12:46
  • comments 0

Multinational drugmakers are repeatedly causing drug shortages every year in Korea, with the local distribution of their finished goods solely relying on manufacturing schedules overseas.

According to drug wholesalers, Pfizer Korea has recently sent out notices to medicine distributors that its three medicines were expected to be out of stock due to a delay in the production schedule. The three are diuretic Aldactone Tab. 25mg/100T, hypnotic sedative Halcion Tab. 0.125mg 100BLP, and vasodilator Nitropress Inj. 2ml/Vial.

Pfizer said the products would be available in mid-March or May, depending on the item.

The company added that it could supply Celebrex Cap. 100mg 30BLP and 100BLP, which had been expected to be unavailable.

Novartis Korea also notified their wholesalers that its hyperlipidemia treatment Lescol Cap. 40mg was expected to be out of stock due to production disruptions at factories overseas.

The company will stop supplying Lescol Cap. 40mg from March 31 and the resumption of the supply will be around June, according to the drugmaker. The firm will notify the exact time of the resumption through a later notice, it said.

Novartis also notified that Miacalcic Inj. 50 (salcatonin), a treatment for bone metabolism, would be unavailable for sale from Aug. 1.

Earlier, Bayer Korea said its supply of Canesten Vaginal Tab. 100mg/6T, a treatment for a vaginal infectious disease, would be postponed due to repair works at Bayer’s factory in Leverkusen, Germany.

Pharmaceutical sources and wholesalers said multinational drugmakers’ drug shortages occur every year because Korea imports all of their medicines in finished goods. If there is a problem with the operation of their factory or regulatory approval, the production of their drugs directly affects the local supply in Korea.

“Physicians continue to prescribe drugs even when the drugs are out of stock. Under such situation, some pharmacies even try hoarding medications,” an official at a wholesaler said. “I feel so frustrated that I can’t do anything about sold-out drugs.”


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