Public hospitals have been forced to buy medicine from chemists at market prices after the Government Supplies Department failed to deliver orders in time. The failure came after the department was equipped with a new computer storage and delivery system when it moved to a new centre in Chai Wan last November. Departmental secretary Cheung Chung-hing said staff members were not familiar with the new system at the new Government Logistics Centre. 'Trial runs were impossible at our old centre before we moved because the system was specially designed for the new centre,' he said. The department, which supplies more than 400 kinds of drugs, admitted all 42 public hospitals and some clinics of the Department of Health had been affected. The department's acting deputy director Leung Kam-hung said: 'The medicine ranges from common vitamins, painkillers to antibiotics, antidiabetics and drugs for controlling blood pressure.' The department has pledged to clear all orders within seven days. Hospital Authority chief executive Dr Yeoh Eng-kiong said the failure had not affected patients but hospital staffs' workloads had increased tremendously. 'When orders failed to reach hospitals in time, some needed to take medicine from others,' he said. When hospitals could not help all of them, some were forced to buy drugs from chemists at market prices, Dr Yeoh said. Extra costs incurred from market price purchases totalled about $50,000.