SINGAPORE — The supermarket chain under National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) has imposed a limit on all purchases of Panadol and Nurofen products.
NTUC Fairprice’s spokesperson said on Friday (23 Dec) that each customer may buy up to four units of Panadol and Norufen in any combination.
This policy was implemented on Thursday and notices have been put up to inform customers.
The spokesperson also noted that the purchase limit for these drugs is “in alignment” with the Health Ministry’s latest advisory to “buy in moderation”.
“Beyond this, we also offer alternative fever, flu and cold medication from comparable brands to ensure that the community has access to medicines and health-related products they need,” said FairPrice.
“We urge customers to only purchase what they need for their personal use.”
A quick check on NTUC Fairprice’s website shows that a consumer can only check in four boxes of NUROFEN Express tablets into their cart. However, Panadol is not even listed on the website at the moment.
While some drugs offered on sale at its website are only available from 28 December onwards.
Pharmacy Watsons is reportedly having a recent spike in demand for flu, cough and COVID-related products.
Its spokesperson told Channel News Asia that it has set a limit of six units of Panadol products per customer.
“Watsons has been monitoring closely on the demand and distribution of these products to ensure a healthy supply of stock as much as we can, within the current challenge of global supply disruptions.”
The Ministry of Health (MOH) was earlier cited by Straits Times as saying that it is aware that retailers and retail pharmacies “have seen increased demand for over-the-counter medicines”, adding that it is monitoring the situation closely.
It also stated that it may take a longer time to restock some brands, but added that the public should also consider an alternative brand.
“We also advise the public to purchase medicines, particularly paediatric medication, in quantities that are sufficient only for their own consumption, in order to avoid wastage,” the ministry added.
MOH also noted that the retailers carry a diverse range of brands for each type of medicine and this includes generic medicines, “which are just as effective as branded medicines”.
Chinese nationals buying medicine in bulk to send back China
According to Lianhe Zaobao last Friday (16 Dec), Chinese nationals studying or working in Singapore were buying medicines to send back to China due to the spike in Covid-19 cases after the country ended its zero-covid policy and city-wide isolations.
A reporter from Lianhe Zaobao reported witnessing a long queue of people trying to send medicine via courier services in Chinatown.
The paper also noted that the parcel provided by the courier service can only deliver eight boxes of non-prescription drugs.
A courier service operator told the paper that antigen test kits and prescription drugs cannot be sent via courier. The delivery time would depend on various factors, such as the covid situation and customs inspection, which would take about two to four weeks or more.
The customers in the queue were preparing to send medicine back to China, with most sending over ten boxes. Medicines include Panadol Cough & Cold, Lianhua Qingwen Jiaonang , cough syrup, and Vitamin C tablets.
The Lianhe Zaobao reporter interviewed a 32-year-old student, Zhang Rongrong who successfully mailed back three parcels of medicine to her parents in Beijing. It was said that they contained 18 boxes of Panadol, two bottles of cough syrup and cost $32 for the courier fees.
Zhang said, “Panadol cannot be bought within the country, even if it would take a month to mail, it can be used after the new year.”
While Zhang’s family and friends have not been tested positive, she is just sending medicine back for peace of mind.
Chinese netizens located in Singapore have been sharing their tips on Chinese social media about which courier services to use, as not all companies provide courier services for medicines.