SINGAPORE — Some over-the-counter medicine to treat fever, cough and cold are in short supply at pharmacies here, as more Covid-19 patients opt to self-medicate.
While more easily transmitted, the current dominant Omicron variant is less severe than the Delta one, with those infected suffering fever, sore throat and cough.
Checks by The Straits Times found that several pharmacies, including Watsons and Guardian, are running low on Panadol Cough & Cold and Decolgen — which are used to relieve symptoms brought about by a cold or flu.
Over on e-commerce platforms Lazada and Shopee, some sellers still have the two products in stock but in limited quantities.
On Guardian’s website, both products are sold out, which a spokesman attributed to more people self-medicating. The spokesman said the company is monitoring the situation and working with suppliers.
The supply of both Decolgen and Panadol is expected to “recover and stabilise” by end-August, while Guardian’s own brand of fever medication is still in stock across its 115 outlets.
A spokesman for Watsos, which has 99 branches, said new stock is expected between the middle of and end August, noting that its suppliers are facing shipment issues.
In response to queries by ST, Panadol manufacturer Haleon, which is based in Britain and has its Asia-Pacific headquarters here, said it is producing record quantities of the drug.
But it noted that demand for consumer health products to manage symptoms of cold and flu has been unprecedented and unpredictable lately.
“Combined with challenges faced across all global supply chains, there may be times when consumers struggle to find the variant of Panadol they prefer,” it added.
Earlier this year, customers in Singapore faced issues trying to find specific variants of Panadol as some stores ran out of stock.
These variants include Panadol Extra and Panadol Cough & Cold.
A FairPrice spokesman said the overall demand for medication that treats cough and fever has been elevated since the beginning of the year, which was when Omicron cases started to spike.
In February, the Government introduced measures to reduce the strain on the healthcare sector, which included encouraging those with mild symptoms to refrain from visiting clinics or hospitals and instead isolate themselves and recover at home.
One of them is Ms Han Nguyen, 39, who was infected in early August.
The pre-school teacher had all three symptoms and self-medicated to alleviate them.
“I didn’t feel sick enough to see a doctor. The fever subsided after I took Panadol anyway, and I didn’t want to expose other people to the virus by going out,” she said of her decision not to visit a GP clinic.
“It is good that more people are self-medicating now, since this places less strain on our healthcare system. But people should buy only what they need instead of stockpiling medication. The symptoms will go away after a while, and it is not like taking all that medicine will make it go away faster,” she added.