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Letter to the Editor | Rise of birth control products in pharmacies

Amalia B. Cabusao
The Editor In chief
Mindanao Times

When the Philippines began its Metro Manila-wide community quarantine in the middle of March, various jokes on possible increase of population in the next nine months had dominated the social media. For many pharmacists, this speculation may be regarded as a reality.

On the face of it, there has been an increased demand for birth control products in pharmacies. Sure these are blockbuster products and their market has a strong pipeline base, but their sales flourished further while we are all put under home quarantine to combat COVID-19 pandemic.

As a pharmacist myself, I have already anticipated this to happen. When I asked my colleagues who are working in community pharmacies if they experienced a high demand of birth-control pills, they laughed in agreement, adding that not only birth-control pills they find more fast-moving but also condoms, pregnancy test kits, even male enhancement drugs (sex boosters). And the funny part is… customers purchase them in either creepy or hilarious approaches.

My best friend, who owns a pharmacy herself, said she encountered customers who bought male enhancement drugs in an angry manner. My best friend, who I’ve known since college, has always been a calm and accommodating person (a female monk I want to describe her) so I can understand that such customer-related anger is not because of her; probably it is coming from someone or something else.

In addition, another female colleague shared she witnessed a customer attempting to hoard condoms, with an alibi of preparing for the “lockdown,” a term that has probably one or more meaning to her. This colleague also mentioned that her stocks of birth control pills and pregnancy test kits were already out, despite her being employed in a major pharmacy chain in the country.

Just recently, a former classmate of mine shared on her social media that she is disappointed to encounter some customers that leave their house to buy sex enhancers only, despite her recommendation to buy vitamin supplements and other health essentials, too.

On one hand, a male colleague shared that he is glad to encounter many parents who prioritized buying vitamins and minerals for their children rather than on contraceptive products.

Despite these customer differences though, my pharmacist friends worry that various birth-control products will soon go unavailable, in spite of them ensuring stocks and coordinating closely with suppliers. There have been reports that global shortage of condoms is looming. And sooner, other similar products might follow the same path if manufacturers will not restart producing.

In case we reach such kind of wide-range shortage, which I hope not, various sectors should ensure that the shortfall of these commodities will not run in months, especially that the Philippines continues to increase in population and the country facing an economic fallout brought about by this coronavirus pandemic.

(Teresa May B. Bandiola is a licensed pharmacist, a published writer, and a university Pharmacy instructor. She can be reached at bandiolateresamayb@gmail.com)

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