Amid panic buying of medicines in South Africa, Aspen is ramping up production

Different kinds of medicine
Different kinds of medicine

The pharmaceutical company Aspen is ramping up production of its over–the-counter pain, respiratory and colds and flu medicines after panic buying since the end of last week.

Orders for respiratory products, anti-inflammatory pain medications like Mybulen and Ibumol, as well as the cold and flu treatment Flusin have spiked. These medicines may be stockpiled to alleviated potential coronavirus symptoms, but other Aspen medicines like the antispasmodic treatment Hyospasmol have also been in massive demand.

Aspen will now redirect resources to increase production of some of these medicines – as a signal to the market to stop the panic buying.

Aspen Group CEO Stephen Saad told Fin24 that the orders for some medicines in a single day were the equivalent to 20% of a monthly order.

The panic buying was fuelled in part by a ban from India, the world’s biggest supplier of generic medicines, on exports of 26 pharmaceutical ingredients, including paracetamol.

“We want to tell people to remain calm. We have large factories, there will be enough supplies in South Africa. Our supply chain is robust, we have a lot of stock,” Saad said. 

Saad said that the panic buying could end up creating shortages for those who can’t afford to stock up, especially those who suffer from chronic conditions.

He said that Aspen has a commitment to the South African market, and will keep the local market fully supplied.

As the first human trial to test a vaccine against coronavirus began in the USv, Saad says that even if it was successful, the reality is that any vaccine will be available – at best – in only twelve months’ time.

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