We have a choice now. For those who is travelling, perhaps they will choose to buy medicine in ‘blister’ form. But the extra packaging comes with a price. The cost is higher with blister pack and normally blisters pack medicines are sold in smaller quatities, say 30s per box. On the average, it may cost as much as 50cents to package a stripe of 10 tablets. It may of course cost more depending on the packaging materials used and the presentation of the containing box of course.
They are many advantages of buying medicine in a blister form. The tablets are protected from the elements and may be able to be kept longer. They are easier to carry. They can be counted much more easily in case you have forgotten whether you have taken your usual protion of medication or not. Certain medicine which cannot be exposed to light must be packed in a blister form ( well, we can argue that they can also be stored in a darkened glass bottle in loose form).
The bottle form has only one advantage. It is cheaper. But for those who are on long term medication , many still prefer to buy it in bottle form simply because it is cheaper. Many hospitals and clinics still use the bottle option because it is cheaper for the patients. Because of the fast usage, the problem of expiry date becomes not so important, because most medicines are consumed long before the expiry date. Further more, drugs have been stored in bottle form ever since our great great grandfather’s time, and all these years, bottles have been proven to be effective storage device.
Come October, this choice for patients to opt for blister packs or bottle packs will no longer be made available , as all drugs distributors have been asked by the authority to sell medicines only in blister packs. They are given a time limits to finish selling their bottle packs , but all new drugs coming to the market must be in blister forms. Those important drugs in loose packs will have to be repackaged in Malaysia.
I am not against blister pack. In fact, I personally prefer medicine in blister packaging . I am only against taking away the consumers’ power to choose.
What I want to stress here is that ‘choice’ is very important, especially for those on long term medications and those who take 5 to 10 types of medicines for their survival.
As I have mentioned, drug companies are not here for charity. They grab at every opportunity to increase their profits. If they have to foot an extra 50 cents for each strip of medicine, you can be rest assured that they would sell each strip at 2 or 3 dollars more, to increase their profit margin.
A person taking 10 types of medication, which is not uncommon nowadays, especially those with hypertension, diabetes and associated heart and stroke problems. Many of them are taking 10 or more types of medications to maintain their health. Certain medicines, eg diabetic medications, needed to be taken twice or three times a day. So at the end of the day, with this compulsory packaging of medicines, the poor old men/ladies would have to foot an extra 30 to 50 bucks or more a months, just to survive.
An analogy is like the tolled road. Yes, using NorthSouth Highway saves time and petrol, and is safer, but there are still people who prefer to use alternative roads, so that they can save on toll charges, which are becoming more and more expensive , since they are being increased every few years. So the key word here is “providing alternatives”. Since people are the master, let the master have the power to choose.
Same for the packaging of medicines. Alternatives must be available for consumers and sick people to choose what they can afford. But , alas, come October , this freedom to choose will no longer be availble, and medicines will be more expensive, adding to the high inflation that the country is facing. It is to be noted that in US, Singapore and HK, where the living standard is much higher than us, consumers are still given this choice of alternative packagings; they can choose to buy in bottles or strips.
As I see it, the one who benefits would be the drugs companies, including certain companies that sell in bulk to the government. Now they may be able to sell drugs at a higher costs and maybe at a higher margin….
See the earlier article: The story of selling medicine part 1.