On a personal level, it may make sense to stockpile medications. You can assure that you will have what you need when you need it. On a societal level, the opposite is true. If everyone were to hoard medications or medical supplies, this could lead to unnecessary shortages.
Those shortages not only pose a risk to those with pre-existing conditions, but they also increase the costs to the healthcare system at large. Due to supply and demand, the price of certain drugs and medical supplies may go up, and people may feel compelled to seek alternative treatments from foreign countries or online sources that may not always be reputable.
The shortage of face masks during the COVID-19 pandemic is one example of this. The World Health Organization (WHO) and other medical organizations have stated that a mask is only indicated for someone who is actively coughing or sneezing or who is taking care of someone suspected to have COVID-19.
However, healthy people have been panicking and hoarding the masks anyway. Now we face a global shortage, and healthcare workers are left without adequate supplies as they aim to diagnose and treat people who may have been infected by the virus.
Counterfeiters are taking advantage as well, trying to profit off people’s fears by selling respirator masks that do not meet National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) specifications. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published a list of counterfeit masks that are not NIOSH-approved.