Chronic medicine shortages are likely to last for weeks, after panic buyers stripped the nation’s pharmacies of medications like children’s Panadol, Nurofen and Ventolin just as the cold and flu season begins.
The National President of the Pharmacy Guild Australia, George Tambassis, has urged Australians to stop hoarding medicine to ease pressure on wholesalers who are trying to adapt to the increased demand.
“The trouble with the demand at the moment is that the wholesalers haven’t got enough time to supply us,” Mr Tambassis said in an ABC Radio National interview with Patricia Karvelas.
“Even though they’re coming to our pharmacies every 24 hours, which is their obligation, they can’t keep up with high volume things like Panadol syrup. So that will be back on our shelves very soon, but they may not be back on our shelves tomorrow.”
Deputy Chief Medical Officer: Paracetamol and Ventolin will be limited to one per customer
In an attempt to ease pressure on pharmacies, wholesalers and pharmaceutical companies, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Paul Kelly, recently announced a number of strict measures. These are:
- Australians will now be restricted to buying a single unit of Ventolin or children’s paracetamol at a time.
- Customers will be limited to purchasing one month’s supply of some prescription medicines.
- Pharmacists have also been instructed to place children’s paracetamol formulations behind the counter to ensure they are fairly distributed among customers.
According to Mr Tambassis, these measures will ensure pharmacists meet their “professional and legal responsibilities” of ensuring prescription medications are dispensed appropriately and safely.
“With Ventolin for example, there’s only a few conditions it is made for. One is asthma and various other respiratory diseases. Ventolin is not made for you to keep at home ‘just in case’ something happens through a virus or epidemic,” he stressed.
“That’s how a medical misadventure can happen in your home. And that’s why right now, you’ll need to provide your name and address and we’ll dispense it for you and we’ll ask you various questions.”
Evidently, the implementation of these new measures will put added pressure on pharmacists, and Mr Tambassis asked the public to be respectful and patient.
“Pharmacists are there to help you. They’re practicing social distancing. They’re also going through the same issues you’re going through… They’re also living in uncertain times as well,” Mr Tambassis said.
“Please be respectful. If you don’t get exactly what you need, speak to the pharmacist and then we’ll sort it out for you.”
A pharmaceutical promise that gives hope in an age of uncertainty around the coronavirus pandemic.