Experts warn against getting medicines from across the Causeway

SINGAPORE: In a trend that has become increasingly common, Singaporeans are crossing the Causeway to Johor Bahru, Malaysia, not only for shopping but also for purchasing medicines.

While the allure of lower prices attracts many, experts caution against the potential risks associated with obtaining prescription drugs without proper oversight.

Johor’s pharmacies offer a wide range of medicines, including cholesterol-lowering drugs, high blood pressure medications, cold remedies, painkillers like Panadol, sleeping pills, and even steroids. Many of these medications can be purchased without presenting a doctor’s prescription, and there are minimal restrictions on quantities.

The primary motivation for this cross-border medicine shopping is the significant price difference.

For instance, a box of the anti-hypertension drug Twynsta, which costs over $100 in Singapore, is priced at 66 ringgit (approximately $19) in Johor.

Nikki Ng, editor-in-chief of MIMS Healthcare Data, told CNA that common drugs might be more affordable than their government-subsidized counterparts in local hospitals. She provided examples, revealing that the high blood pressure drug Micardis (40 mg tablets) is priced at 62 ringgit (approximately S$17.50) in Johor, compared to about $53 locally.

Similarly, the lipid-lowering drug Lipitor is available for 108 ringgit (approximately SGD 30.40) in Johor, while it sells for approximately $76 locally. The steroid Elomet costs $18 per vial in Singapore and can be purchased for 29 ringgit (approximately $8.20) in Johor.

The lower prices in Malaysia are attributed to the competitive nature of the local market, with numerous pharmacies on a single street. Additionally, Malaysia benefits from economies of scale in drug production, resulting in lower prices than the smaller Singapore market.

However, experts have expressed concerns about the ease with which prescription drugs can be acquired in Johor.

Kenneth Lee, a health economics professor at Malaysia’s Taylor’s University, told CNA that prescription drugs must adhere to specific protocols, including listing supply details, dates, and patient information.

While the laws governing this aspect in Singapore and Malaysia are similar, local pharmacies often allow customers to purchase medicines without stringent adherence.

Singaporeans can also buy prescription drugs from Johor online, risking the potential dangers associated with inadequate storage conditions.

A laboratory analysis conducted by CNA on the steroid Tri-Luma purchased online revealed substandard potency, mainly due to the lack of refrigeration.

Golda Wang, chief pharmacist of Alexandria Hospital, warned that the casual purchase of prescription drugs without doctor oversight may lead to overdoses or incorrect medication, posing serious risks to one’s health.

As cross-border travel steadily climbs and the trend continues, experts stress the importance of ensuring regulatory compliance and patient safety in the medicine trade.

The post Experts warn against getting medicines from across the Causeway appeared first on The Independent Singapore News – Latest Breaking News

Go to Source