Sunday, March 29, 2020

Panic buying threatens safe use of medicines

Media Release

4 March 2020

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia has warned that panic buying of medicines is unnecessary and may have unintended consequences for Australian patients.

The National President of the Pharmacy Guild, George Tambassis, says pharmacists had professional and legal responsibilities to ensure appropriate and safe supply of prescription medicines, and dispensing multiple repeats without good reason was inadvisable and outside the guidelines published by the Pharmacy Board of Australia.

In some jurisdictions, it is a legal requirement to check with the prescribing doctor before issuing multiple repeat supplies of medicine at the same time.

Mr Tambassis was responding to numerous anecdotal reports of consumers trying to “stock-up” on prescription medicines because of fears the onset of COVID-19 might lead to medicine shortages in Australia.

Wholesalers have also reported higher than usual demand for prescription and over-the-counter medicines.

There is currently no recommendation from the Chief Medical Officer, Departments of Health or any other public health authority of the need for patients to stockpile.

“The Pharmacy Guild is not aware of any medicine which is currently unavailable or in short supply in Australia specifically because of COVID-19,” Mr Tambassis says.

“Medication shortages and out of stocks have been part of the pharmacy landscape for the last couple of years threatening continuity of supply for patients and requiring numerous brand substitution changes for some patients, but these issues pre-dated and are entirely unrelated to coronavirus.

“Paradoxically, if panic buying does take hold for medicines and other products, shortages may well arise – and we certainly hope this can be avoided,” he adds.

Pharmacy Board of Australia guidelines state

“When not directed by the prescriber, the simultaneous supply of multiple quantities of a particular medicine (i.e. the supply of multiple repeats at once) may be contrary to the Quality Use of Medicines principles outlined in the National Medicines Policy.

“It does not promote regular review of therapy and effective provision of medicine information by pharmacists, which may assist in minimising medication misadventure. It may also be contrary to state or territory legislation.”

Source: The Pharmacy Guild of Australia

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