Some pharmacies in Seoul are receiving increasing inquiries about purchasing cold medicines while their supply is on the decline. The South Korean government announced a plan to restrict the sales of cold medicines per consumer as some consumers are stockpiling cold medicines in response to the soaring number of COVID-19 cases in China.
According to The Dong-A Ilbo’s research of 16 pharmacies in Jongno-gu, Seoul on Monday, many pharmacists expressed concerns about the reduced supply of cold medicines and are already restricting bulk purchases.
“Some elders in their 60s and 70s began to buy five to 10 units of cold medicines three to four days ago,” said an employee at one of the pharmacies. “They said they were concerned about increasing COVID-19 cases in China and planned to give the medicines to their family members.” Some Chinese in South Korea also bought up cold medicines. “We only sell one to two units even though some Chinese consumers ask to buy 10 units.”
Some pharmacies are receiving inquiries about bulk purchases. An employee of a pharmacy in Hyehwa-dong said two people who seemed to be foreigners asking how many units of cold medicines they could buy. “They asked if they could get a discount for bulk purchases. I told them we do not allow bulk sales to individual customers.” An employee of a different pharmacy also reported that a customer recently asked how many units he could buy. Another pharmacy employee said there is not enough stock for bulk sales as the supply of cold medicines from pharmaceutical companies is limited.
However, there was no pharmacy that reported their cold medicines were sold out due to bulk purchases. Some pharmacies had a sign on the door that stated that purchasing three to five days' worth of cold and respiratory system-related medicines is recommended. The government will announce guidelines on the restriction of the sales of cold medicines with details, such as its timing and who will be subject to the restriction.