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Drugs shortage fears lead to panic buying at Australian pharmacies

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

Patients are being urged to not panic buy drugs amid the coronavirus outbreak, with reports of some people trying to stock up on their medications because of fears about shortages.

Patients are being urged to not panic buy drugs amid the coronavirus outbreak, with reports of some people trying to stock up on their medications because of fears about shortages.

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia (PGA) said there have been numerous 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.

But PGA bosses said there are no drug shortages because of the virus and stockpiling may have "unintended consequences for Australian patients".

The national president of the Pharmacy Guild, George Tambassis, said patients have no reason to fear supplies of any drugs will be hit.

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He told nine.com.au he had never seen such panic buying before.

"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 said.

"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."

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Pharmacists are not advised to dispense multiple repeats by the Pharmacy Board of Australia.

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"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," its guidelines state.

"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."

Mr Tambassis added Australia has a large supply of over the counter drugs such as Panadol- which has been reported to be a treatment used by hospitals to treat coronavirus patients, sparking a rush on supplies- and people should not be worried.

He said it was up to individual pharmacies if they wanted to impose limits on over the counter drugs, but so far he had not heard of any doing so.

While some drug ingredients do come from China, he other countries such as India also make them and China's outbreak should not affect supplies.

Read more: What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

Source: 9News https://www.9news.com.au/national/drugs-shortage-fears-panic-buying-pharmacies-australia/e7fc730a-0ee3-444f-a3e6-6161a57a67a7

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