Beijing: Amid the exponential rise in COVID-19 cases in China, the pharmaceutical industries are finding it difficult to cope with the high demand for medicines after the Xi Jinping-led government announced relaxations in its zero-Covid policy.

Many people have started resorting to consuming expired medicines due to the acute shortage of medicines in China, local media reported.The local versions of Tylenol and Advil are nearly impossible to find at pharmacies in China, fueling anger across the nation, CNN reported in December. In order to calm panic buying, regional governments have initiated measures to limit sales and increase the supply of popular fever drugs.

China has even curbed the export of various raw materials used in the production of essential drugs, leading to shortages of these drugs in countries like Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, and Singapore.

Meanwhile, the Chinese Communist Party's announcement regarding relaxation of epidemic prevention and control measures from January 8 has triggered apprehensions across the country that COVID-19 cases could rise further.

Pharmaceutical companies in China are working at full capacity to ensure the supply of key medicines for COVID-19 control, Xinhua reported. Lanzhou Foci Pharmaceutical Co. in China's Gansu province has been working to manufacture medications for cold and respiratory infections.

Shandong Xinhua Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. in China's Shandong Province is specialized in producing fever reducers and pain relievers and it has increased the production of ibuprofen 24 hours a day to meet the demands, according to Xinhua.

Shandong Xinhua Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd said that its capacity has reached 10,000 tablets of ibuprofen per minute, as per the Xinhua report. Furthermore, efforts have also been made to ensure targeted and reasonable medicine dispatching.

On December 20, over 500 drugstores in China's Zhuhai city committed to "continuously supply" a number of fever-reducing medicines including ibuprofen, the municipal government said in a statement, according to CNN. However, there are strict limits on what people can purchase.

People can buy only one form of a particular fever drug. As per the CNN report, the sale of medicine has been restricted to a maximum of six tablets or 100 millilitres (3 ounces) of liquid per customer.

As per the CNN report, Nanjing has committed to ensuring the daily supply of medicines. However, they did not give details regarding the kind of medicine which must be split for purchase among 150 medicine stores.

From Heilongjiang to Hainan, dozens of companies in major Chinese pharmaceutical hubs said they were "going all out" to enhance the production of fever and antiviral medicines, according to CNN.

The government in Sichuan announced emergency measures authorizing payouts of up to USD 143,160 (one million yuan) per company to enable them to expand the production of COVID-related products.

"[We] support companies making antigen test kits or Covid drugs to work overtime for production, and will provide cash subsidies to employees from our provincial industrial development funds," CNN quoted the notice published by the Sichuan government.

The Sichuan government added that the special subsidy would be valid until April 2023. Furthermore, Honz Pharmaceutical in a statement in December announced that the current shortage should be alleviated within two months.

"The current shortage should be alleviated within two months. With the intervention and regulation of the state, it may be brought forward," CNN quoted Honz Pharmaceutical as saying in the statement.