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Australians will now be able to access essential medicines without a prescription in an emergency during COVID-19

All Australians will be able to access their essential medicines continued by a pharmacist at PBS prices if their prescription has run out under continued dispensing arrangements announced by the Federal Government today.

Pharmaceutical Society of Australia National President Associate Professor Chris Freeman welcomed the announcement made by the government which will see continued dispensing arrangements extended until at least the end of June and the implementation of medicine substitution when medicines are out of stock following consultation with states and territories.

“This will enable Australians to continue access their vital medicines as a “one-off” in an emergency if they cannot get a prescription during the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

“Subject to professional guidelines and state and territory regulation, the initiative allows for a standard pack size of most ongoing prescription medicines to be provided, usually equivalent to one month’s supply.

PSA has been working with the Federal Government to ensure the emergency measure is extended during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Medicines supplied under this arrangement are available at regular PBS prices – standard co-payments being $6.60 for concession card holders, and up to a maximum of $41 for general patients.

A/Prof Freeman congratulated the coordination of states and territories and the Commonwealth on working to enact the regulatory changes required in relation to both PBS funding and legality of supply and noted that it is understood that all states and territories if not already aligned intend to have aligning legislation.

“While this announcement is welcomed by PSA, we will continue to call for permanent emergency supply provisions of this nature.

“Whether it be a bushfire, pandemic or any other emergency, Australians need to be confident they can access medicines in an emergency from the time they strike.

“We will continue to work with the Federal Government, in collaboration with its state and territory counterparts, after this crisis subsides to permanently incorporate effective and nationally consistent emergency supply provisions.”

“As front line health professionals, pharmacists continue to play a vital role during the current COVID-19 pandemic and it is important they receive all the tools necessary to ensure they can deliver services in a timely manner that meets the health care needs of their patients and the community.”

The Federal Government also announced it will be implementing changes to allow community pharmacists to substitute dose strengths or forms of medicines without prior approval from the prescribing doctor, if a medicine is unavailable at the time of dispensing.

“PSA strongly supports this announcement having worked in partnership with the Department of Health and the Pharmacy Guild of Australia for this much needed change. “We will continue to work with the Government on the implantation of this common sense initiative.”

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