Apr 27, 2023

Concerns raised over medication shortages

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The Federal Government has proposed to increase medication dispensing for certain drugs from 30 to 60 days sparking debate as medication shortages in aged care become a critical issue. 

While the proposed change aims to ease the cost-of-living burden for Australians, it could have dire implications for aged care patients. 

The recommendation was made by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC), which has expertise in managing and monitoring supply chains and considers current and accurate information on medicine shortages.

The Australian Government has acted on this recommendation, despite objections from the Pharmacy Guild, which has expressed concern that the move could lead to a “medicines shortage hunger games” and as a result, essential services and aged care facilities could be impacted.

Health Minister, Mark Butler, told the ABC that shortages were reported for seven types of medication, including those for managing cholesterol and blood pressure, although substitute brands were said to be available. 

“There are global supply constraints that really are a hangover from COVID that are causing some supply problems of particular medicines right across the world,” he said.

Furthermore, the proposed change could have a ripple effect on pharmacy businesses, leading to staff cuts and even pharmacy closures. 

However, The proposal has been supported by Medicines Australia, the peak body representing the medicines industry in Australia. 

The peak body’s Chief Executive, Liz De Somer, believes that the measures implemented to strengthen Australia’s domestic supply of medicines in response to pandemic-related shortages will help prevent significant risks of supply shortages. 

A new agreement signed between Medicines Australia and the Government has obligated manufacturers to maintain more supplies of medicines in Australia, starting in July.

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