Pharmacists are continuing the critical work seen in the Australian bushfires by supporting the community in dealing with planning associated with COVID-19, and ensuring continuity of medicine supply.
PSA has received reports from pharmacists that patients have been requesting them to dispense multiple repeat scripts to “stock-up” on prescription medicines because of fears the onset of COVID-19 might lead to medicine shortages in Australia. This has been supported by reports from wholesalers on higher than usual demand for prescription and over the counter medicines.
PSA has been working closely with the Commonwealth Department of Health and has been reassured by wholesalers that there are currently no medicine supply issues in Australia.
There is currently no recommendation from the Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer, Commonwealth government, Departments of health or any other public health authority of the need for patients to stockpile.
PSA stands by Australia’s pharmacists as they work to insert a risk-based approach to the safe use of medicines for the Australian public.
Some advice for pharmacists includes:
Reassure patients that there are currently no medicine supply issues in the community;
If there is a larger spread of COVID-19, pharmacists will be able to continue to dispense medicines into the community including delivering medicines at home;
Public health officials are monitoring the situation and will enact isolation and containment measures as and when appropriate;
Reassuring patients that the best way to protect themselves is good hand hygiene;
Regular information updates are being provided through the Commonwealth Department of Health at: https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov.
PSA has also written to the Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer seeking advice on whether this year’s seasonal flu vaccination should be administered early to people at low risk of influenza to combat a collision of the seasonal influenza period with COVID-19. We will be again raising this issue at a special meeting with clinical peak bodies and the Commonwealth Department of Health tomorrow. PSA will update members on the outcome of this meeting.
We are committed to keeping members informed. We are setting up a dedicated information page on the PSA website to keep members informed, and are having daily conversations with the Commonwealth Department of Health to ensure we provide up-to-date and accurate information.