Pharmacists call for stricter sales of Covid-19 self-test kits

This is following rampant sales of fake test kits and sales by unqualified sellers

by S BIRRUNTHA / Pic by BERNAMA

THE Malaysian Pharmacists Society (MPS) is urging the government to intervene and protect buyers amid concerns over unregulated sales of the Covid-19 self-test kits especially via social media and WhatsApp.

MPS president Amrahi Buang said they were worried about the rampant sales of fake kits as well as sales by unqualified sellers who are neither pharmacists or doctors.

“Fake Covid-19 self-test kits and incorrect use of these kits would produce inaccurate results such as false negatives that would not help in combating the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Furthermore, with more cases of brought-in dead, the government needs to act immediately before the situation worsens,” he said in a statement yesterday.

He added that ideally, self-test kits should be provided free to the public, but if the government is not able to do so, a mechanism to subsidise the cost should be put into place. Thus, he urged the government to manage the sales and distribution of self-test kits efficiently via subsidisation or price control mechanisms, and immediately curb and end sales of fake kits as well as sales by unqualified sellers.

In view of potential price control mechanisms, MPS suggested that the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry (KPDNHEP) give a one-month grace period before implementation as the move would assist pharmacists who have already purchased the self-test kits at a higher cost to clear the more expensive stock.

“In the event a grace period is not granted, MPS wants a subsidy or refund mechanism be put in place to avoid losses to pharmacists who purchased the stocks in good faith.

“In ensuring price controls benefit the public, KPDNHEP must ensure price controls include not only standardisation of the sales price but also control of the cost price from the supplier,” Amrahi noted.

He said this is because MPS has received numerous complaints from the public and pharmacists that self-test kits are being sold online and via WhatsApp at extremely low prices and with no guarantee of the product being genuine.

As KPDNHEP only has a general complaints page, MPS also suggested that a dedicated page be set up to enable complaints against fake products and sales by non-pharmacists and non-doctors.

Amrahi said this would enable turnover of complaints to be handled quickly and efficiently by the KPDNHEP enforcement arm.

He added that it is critical that a mechanism to identify fake and genuine stock of self-test kits be implemented to further protect the public.

“Suppliers of self-test kits, KPDNHEP and the Malaysian Device Authority (MDA) should work on this immediately,” he stressed.

Additionally, he said KPDNHEP should also help enforce MDA’s policy for conditional approval that allows only licensed pharmacies and healthcare facilities to sell selftest kits online with a proactive approach in barring runners and unqualified sellers as they do not conform to MDA’s prerequisites of stock keeping and information sharing with customers.