MANILA — The head of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said Thursday that local pharmaceutical firms have enough "production capacity" to supply Filipinos' needs of paracetamol and other over-the counter drugs amid alleged shortage in drugstores.
"May malaki tayong production capacity ng mga local drug manufacturers. Very sufficient ho," Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said in a taped public briefing on Thursday.
Netizens earlier raised concerns of a lack of supply in drugstores on social media, prompting some to panic buy amid a new surge in COVID-19 cases in the country.
Lopez said that there was no shortage of such medicines but only "stockouts" in drugstores after the holidays, when experts began to notice a renewed increase in virus infections due to Filipinos' increased mobility.
"Akala ng mga tao, nako nagkaubusan na. Pero actually ang tawag lang doon ay stockout dahil naubusan 'yung imbentaryo doon sa mabilisang increase in demand," he said.
The DTI chief said pharmaceutical firms are expected to replenish the stocks of popular brands of paracetamol and other drugs in major drugstores by this weekend.
He called on the public not to resort to panic buying.
"'Yung iba nagpa-panic buying, bibili kahon-kahon. Ang bilhin lang nila 'yung kailanganin lang nila, para hindi rin abutan ng expiration 'pag masyado marami silang bibilhin," Lopez said.
The Pharmaceuticals and Healthcare Association of the Philippines can replenish stocks of popular brands within "2 to 3 days," its president Janette Jakosalem said on Wednesday.
Jovelyn Blancaflor, board chairman of the Drugstores Association of the Philippines, also said the public has many options for paracetamol and other medicines for cough and colds.