Emergency supply green light

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Victorian pharmacists join their NSW colleagues in gaining special authority for emergency supply 

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia has welcomed the Victorian government’s decision to allow the state’s pharmacists to dispense prescription-only medicines to people impacted by bushfires until 1 April 2020.

The announcement was made by the state Minister of Health, Jenny Mikakos, today (9 January).

It allows all pharmacists registered under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law to practise in the pharmacy profession (other than as a student) to sell or supply a Schedule 4 poison without a prescription to a person (‘the patient’) in an emergency if:

(a) the pharmacist considers that the sale or supply is necessary to ensure continuity of treatment; and

(b) the pharmacist is satisfied that: 

  • There is an immediate need for the poison and it is impracticable for the patient to obtain a prescription in time to meet that need
  • Treatment with the poison has previously been provided for by a prescription issued, or a chart instruction written for the patient by a registered medical practitioner, dentist, nurse practitioner, authorised midwife, authorised optometrist or authorised podiatrist; 
  • The patient, or an agent of the patient, or a person who has the care of the patient, or a person who is assisting in the care of the patient, is aware of the appropriate dose of that poison for that patient.

(c) the quantity of the poison supplied does not exceed: 

  • the standard Pharmaceutical Benefits maximum quantity, for a poison that is on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme; or
  • the quantity that is contained in the smallest commercially available pack, for a poison that is not on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. 

(d) the pharmacist records that the sale or supply was made under the public health emergency order.

Victorian Branch President, Anthony Tassone has commended the state Government, saying it will help ensure continuity of care and access to important medicines during this bushfire emergency.

“This is a sensible and important announcement during this very distressing time for patients impacted by the bushfire disaster to help ensure they continue to have access to important medicines and recognises the expertise of pharmacists in identifying where an emergency supply would be deemed appropriate,” he said.

Guild National President, George Tambassis, also welcomed the announcement, which followed a similar one in NSW earlier this week.

“It is very commendable that the Governments of both New South Wales and now Victoria have taken this step to assist patients, many of whom are still in a state of distress and upheaval following the onslaught of these terrible bushfires,” he said.

“This is a great step towards permanently expanding and streamlining the capacity of pharmacists all over Australia to assist patients with their prescription medicines during and after natural disasters,”

However, Mr Tassone added that measures were needed to “ensure that such emergency provisions of prescription-only medicines have a PBS subsidy applied where applicable for any PBS listed medicine.

Patients should not be expected to meet higher out of pocket costs for their PBS prescription medicines during a natural disaster or where circumstances genuinely prevent them from obtaining another prescription to ensure continual supply,” he said.


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