Taiwanese health officials have urged the public to avoid bulk buying Panadol and sending them overseas, as pharmacy shelves across the island are being cleared of the medicine.
“We would like to remind everyone that they should buy drugs like Panadol only in moderation, according to their needs,” said Dr Victor Wang, head of the Central Epidemic Command Centre (CECC).
He added that people have been purchasing it in large quantities until there is “almost none left” on store shelves.
The authorities have contacted the manufacturer to request an increase in supplies to meet demand, he added at a press conference on Monday.
While Dr Wang did not mention China, it is believed that some customers have been sending boxes of the medicine across the Taiwan Strait for friends and relatives who are currently facing a Covid-19 wave.
Some Taiwanese social media users say they know of people doing so.
“A Chinese wife living in my neighborhood has been buying a lot of Panadol to send back to her home town,” a YouTube comment read.
Pharmacy shelves in Beijing have been emptied of antigen test kits, face masks and fever medication amid a surge of virus cases after China abruptly lifted its strict Covid-19 restrictions earlier in December.
In Taipei, three pharmacies that The Straits Times went to on Tuesday had run out of Panadol, although other brands of fever and flu medicine were still available.
Local pharmacist Wang Mei-yuan said customers prefer to buy Panadol because it is more well known.
“We had a customer who asked to buy 20 boxes of Panadol, but we really have no stock,” she said.
“The customer said her business partner in China needed some and that he was scared of getting counterfeit medicine there, so he would rather have it sourced from overseas,” added Wang.
The CECC’s Dr Wang reminded the public that Panadol is just the brand name for the medicine paracetamol, which is also produced by other companies.
He added that Taiwan has a stockpile of around 54 million paracetamol tablets, which is enough to last the island’s 23 million people for almost three months.
Last week, a spokesman for Taiwan’s Food and Drug Administration said that the recent run on Panadol may also be due to the ongoing cold spell and travelers stocking up for their overseas holidays.
On Monday, Taiwan reported 10,365 Covid-19 infections, a 4 percent drop from the same day last week.