The Hospital Authority has rejected safety concerns about paracetamol it procured from the mainland when the fifth wave of Covid peaked earlier in the year.
In a media session, the authority said that, although the mainland-made painkiller was not registered in Hong Kong, it had examined the safety and quality of the drug before procuring it from a few mainland suppliers with the help of the central government.
Officials said that was the responsible thing to do to ensure the stable availability of the drug, when local suppliers couldn't cope with surging demand for paracetamol earlier this year.
A director of the authority Simon Tang, said they didn't consider only mainland suppliers, but they were the ones that could deliver the drugs most quickly to the city when there were problems in the global supply chain.
The authority's chief pharmacist, Benjamin Lee, said public hospitals had been prescribing the mainland-made drug to patients since around late June.
He refused to say how many doses of the drug the authority had bought, but added that the one-off supply will probably run out this month and they will switch back to paracetamol manufactured by the original suppliers.
The authority said that, while it gives priority to locally registered drugs in its procurement, it has been using a few hundred unregistered drugs because alternative options are not available or because they are newly developed patent medicines.
It said it would review the use of these drugs regularly to ensure patient safety.