Rural doctors group wants state hospitals to be free to buy Covid drugs
The Rural Doctors Society on Monday called on the Public Health Ministry to allow state hospitals to buy Covid-19 medicine on their own without having to depend on “problematic” allocations from a state firm.
In its Facebook post on Monday, the group welcomed the ministry’s permission for state firms and private clinics as well as hospitals run by medical schools to buy Covid medicine on their own.
The society was referring to a letter sent on July 27 by acting Public Health permanent secretary Thongchai Kirattihatthayakorn to the Health Service Support Department and to the permanent secretary at the Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation Ministry. The department is in charge of private hospitals and clinics while the higher education permanent secretary is in charge of medical schools of universities.
The letter states that Thailand has reached the post-pandemic stage in coping with Covid-19 and the government is preparing to announce the disease as an endemic. As a result, the Public Health Ministry agrees to allow private hospitals and clinics as well as medical schools to buy antiviral Covid medicines on their own from September 1.
“It was right to free the medicine [from the control of the Public Health Ministry]. Why should hospitals be dependent on the monopoly of the Government Pharmaceutical Organisation? This move will definitely end the situation of inadequate medicine,” the group said in the post.
“But what is still confusing is whether hospitals under the Public Health Ministry will be able to buy Covid medicine on their own. Or will they still be bound by the condition that they must buy the drug only from the GPO?”
The group said since private hospitals and clinics can buy Covid drugs on their own, the liberalisation should also be applied to hospitals of the Public Health Ministry.
It said full liberalisation would end inadequate drug supplies caused by the GPO’s monopoly and troublesome logistics management.
Jessada Denduangboripant, a popular science lecturer of Chualongkorn University, has been campaigning on his Facebook wall for full liberalisation of Covid medicines. He said the availability of drugs was inadequate in Thailand while a course of Molnupiravir could be bought in a neighbouring country for only 300 baht. He said his family members had got Covid and they had to buy the drug online as doctors would not administer the drug.
Similar complaints have been posted on Facebook about many patients in vulnerable groups not being administered the antiviral drugs, and being given only general medicine to treat symptoms because hospitals did not have enough stocks of antiviral drugs.