Community News

Limits on the dispensing and sales of prescription and over-the-counter medicines to ensure equitable access

From today, pharmacists will be enforcing Federal Government direction to limit dispensing and sales of prescriptions and certain over the counter medicines for the benefit of all Australians.

These limits will apply to particular classes of medicines for which unavailability would result in significant health impacts for patients should treatment be interrupted or delayed.

PSA National President Associate Professor Chris Freeman said limiting the dispensing of prescription and over-the-counter products to one month’s supply was necessary to address the issue of people stockpiling medicines due to the current COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Government has made it clear to the public that it is critical to stop stockpiling medicine to protect the access of medicines to all Australians,” he said.

“Demand for medicines has increased considerably in response to the COVID-19 pandemic which has the potential for numerous product lines to be out of stock and some pharmacists are being pressured and abused to provide unsafe quantities of medicine.”

“There is currently no anticipation of widespread national medicine shortages, however if current levels of demand through excessive purchasing continue, supply interruptions will occur which is why these measures have been put in place.

“We need to put the brakes on selfish buying, some members of the community, who are stockpiling medicines, are abusing pharmacists and this clearly needs to stop.

“A bold decision has been made today to start putting a limit on the sale of certain medicines.”

Pharmacists will be asked to limit dispensing of certain prescription products to one months’ supply at the prescribed dose, and sales of certain over-the-counter medicines to a maximum of one unit per purchase.

In addition, pharmacists will be strongly encouraged to limit dispensing and sales of all other medicines to one months’ supply or one unit.

Dispensing of multiple repeats is only permitted for valid Regulation 49 prescriptions, which must only be written by prescribers when hardship provisions apply.

Associate Professor Freeman said pharmacists were working in the interests of the community and patients and it was important they were treated with respect.

“Pharmacists are working in the best interests of the community and their patients. The current supply network for medicines is adequate to meet demand and if we all do the right thing there will be enough medicines for all who need them.”