To ensure equal access to medication for all Australians, the Pharmacy Guild of Australia and the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia are working alongside the Department of Health.
The authorities are trying to impose new laws regarding the dispensation and sales of prescription and over-the-counter medication. The National Pharmaceutical Services Association is supporting this cause while bringing pharmaceutical wholesalers on board.
Why Prescriptions are Being Required for Medicines
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, there was an unexpected rise in the demand for medicines during the early weeks of March. Pharmacies and wholesalers quickly ran out of stock to cater to the rising demand. The local-level out-of-stock medications proved to be a massive challenge for the Australian market.
Pharmaceutical companies did not expect that the widespread shortage of medicine on a national level was a result of the impact of coronavirus. To curb the spiking levels of demand resulting from excessive purchasing and to prevent future supply interruptions, authorities within Australia decided to make prescriptions for medications necessary.
While pharmaceutical sponsors waited on delivered of new medication from international manufacturing sites, authorities tried to limit stockpiling by customers.
New Requirements for Community Pharmacists
1. One Unit Per Purchase for Some Over-the-Counter Medicines
Medications whose unavailability or interruption can have series health implications, or that are subject to a growing demand because of the COVID-19 pandemic have restrictions placed on them. These include medicines, such as glyceryl trinitrate, adrenaline autoinjectors, and salbutamol inhalers.
Moreover, prescription medicines, such as asthma and COPD medicines, insulin, and oral hypoglycemics and anti-epileptics, are going to be monitored.
2. Limiting Sales of Medicines to One Month’s Supply
Only valid Regulation 49 prescriptions written by professional medical prescribers are allowed to be dispensed multiple times. However, PBS Regulation 49 must not be used often, and only in rare cases while following the legislated criteria.
The following two over-the-counter medicines have been high in demand which is why new controls will be placed on these:
Salbutamol inhalers: Pharmacists will be bound by the law to confirm that the supply of the inhalers falls in line with the patient’s diagnosis. Furthermore, they will have to label the product to record who the inhaler has been dispensed to and then record the supply.
Paracetamol Pediatric Formulations: These will have to be placed behind the counter so that supply can be accounted for. Moreover, only one formula should be sold per customer.
3. Codeine is No Longer Available Over-the-Counter
The risks associated with codeine outweigh their therapeutic benefit. That is why GPs, pharmacists, and pain specialists have been required by the law to discuss alternate pain management options, and come up with safer alternatives to deal with pain. This also means that patients with dependency problems will need more in-depth care and specialized management.
Moreover, other medications, such as Nurofen Plus, stronger Panadols, and Codral, are also no longer available over-the-counter. These medications provide temporary relief from acute pain and inflammation. To read more about the laws placed on medication in Australia, click here.