Biogesic and paracetamol topped Twitter trends on Monday night following what netizens said was limited supply of the painkiller at pharmacies during flu season that hit as COVID cases are spiking.
The tag mostly contained anecdotes of people going to their nearest drugstore to buy Biogesic, only to be told there were none available, or each customer could only purchase a limited number. Other tweets joked that they were willing to trade their supply of biogesic for pricier gadgets and items. Some drugstores with online sites were also sold out.
"Nag-text din yung officemates ko na wala raw Biogesic when they tried to buy," Pau, a mother of two, said.
Other sold out drugs include Bioflu, Decolgen, and Neozep—anelgesics and medicine for coughs and colds, netizens said.
The Department of Health said they consulted major drugstore chains and local manufacturers on the status of supply.
"While there is an observed increase in demand for such products, there is no ongoing shortage in the Philippines. Paracetamol has many generic alternatives in the market, which are available in many drug stores nationwide. We are constantly monitoring the status of supply of critical medicines for COVID-19 including supportive medicines for symptomatic treatment," the DOH said in a statement.
Manufacturer Unilab said Biogesic was temporarily out of stock in select drugstores due to extraordinary demand. "We assure you that we are working with our partner drugstores and retailers to accelerate replenishment at the soonest possible time," Unilab said.
Biogesic contains only paracetamol or acetaminophen used to treat fever and moderate body aches. Drugs like Bioflu, Decolgen, Neozep, Alaxan also contain paracetamol and it is recommended that they be taken separate from Biogesic, as it can result in paracetamol overdose.
Biogesic along with the other listed medicines were readily available as a common over-the-counter remedy for headaches, fever, and body pain. While it can address certain symptoms of COVID-19, it is not a drug used as treatment for the respiratory disease.
Over the holidays and the New Year, folks on the internet tweeted that they were feeling tired with a flu, fever, or colds. Many attributed it to the shift between hot and cool weather and dismissed it as nothing serious to be fixed with water, rest, and a pop of Biogesic. Some have taken antigen or RT-PCR tests to rule out the possibility of COVID-19, only to test positive.
Omicron, the latest variant of concern for COVID-19, is said to be less severe than its predecessor Delta. What it lacks in severity is made up for with its transmissibility, causing surges of asymptomatic to mild cases in other countries. The Philippines has so far reported 14 Omicron cases.
It remains to be seen if the flu season is actually an increase in Omicron cases, but Filipinos are encouraged to rest, wear masks, and limit going out of their homes to prevent a surge. To arrest the further spread of COVID-19, Metro Manila was placed under the stricter Alert Level 3 until Jan. 15.