Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations (FOMCA) President Datuk Dr Marimuthu Nadason said panic buying is usually influenced by individuals’ perception of the threat of the health crisis, shortage of products, and fear of the unknown. This is caused by negative emotions and uncertainty about drugs and the stockpiling of certain medications in households, amplified the problem. The coping behaviour views panic buying as relieving anxiety and regaining control over the crisis.
He said there were also social and psychological factors that account for the influence of an individual’s social network. Panic buying observed product shortages preparedness behaviours or emotions such as fear and worry.
“The public should not panic buy, which leads to unnecessarily hoarding medications, which are not immediately needed, to avoid aggravating the situation.
“Shortages are especially costly for the vulnerable for whom shopping can be challenging; hence policy interventions may be necessary to address the detrimental impact of panic buying on them.”
However, he said there were no clear guidelines concerning how people should react during drug/medicine shortages regarding keeping their supply of drugs without affecting the volume of drugs in the supply chain and increasing the risk of stock-outs or keeping too many drugs at home.
“The public should not panic buy and unnecessarily hoard medications, which are not immediately needed, to avoid aggravating the situation.”
He added: “Medical product shortages created by panic buying may present opportunities for fraudsters to “fill the gaps” as buyers diversify their sourcing beyond their pre-existing networks.
“I urge the authorities to increase market surveillance and more support from law enforcement agencies to identify fraudsters.”
Association of Private Hospitals Malaysia (APHM) President Datuk Dr Kuljit shared the same sentiment: “There is no need to panic. Lifesaving medications, such as for hypertension and diabetes, are not affected. Only the common cough and cold medicines and antibiotics are in shortage. Nevertheless, it is still manageable.
“One or two facilities have raised the shortage issue into a panic state. If they ask for help from the relevant parties, including APHM, we are willing to help discuss with manufacturers and procure alternative medications.”
He believes that this shortage is a one-off situation resulting from coming out of the pandemic.
“Let’s watch and see. Everything will likely return to normal after a month or two. However, if the shortage persists, we will need to give manufacturers better estimates.
“Manufacturers can produce the required amount of medications. While there may be some shortages of raw materials, I believe they could overcome that.” — The Health