The pharmacists’ union is worried that due to consumers attempting to stockpile medicines, pharmacists could be at risk regarding professional practice
The general public has for the most part been respectful towards pharmacists, says Professional Pharmacists Australia president Dr Geoff March, but measures could still be taken to help ensure their professional safety as well as that of consumers.
Amid calls for consumers to stop attempting to stockpile medicine, the union has had “reports of significant increases in panic buying of over the counter medications such as Panadol, Nurofen, cold and flu tablets as well as hand sanitisers,” he said.
“Pharmacists are reporting that some people are trying to buy up to 10 boxes of Panadol, Nurofen and cold and flu tablets and several bottles of children’s Panadol,” Dr March said.
“There are reports that children’s Panadol is in short supply.”
On Tuesday the Daily Mail reported that reality TV star Sara Tumino, who has two young children, filmed a teary speech she then broadcast on Instagram, complaining that she had visited three local pharmacies and been unable to purchase children’s analgesic products.
Filming at a Chemist Warehouse, she said that, “This is becoming an absolute joke”.
“Honestly, you people are going mad and it’s impairing everyone else’s day to day life,” she said, addressing those who were stocking up on the products without being ill, and pointing out that her child was teething and had a fever.
Dr March said that in cases where consumers were attempting to buy up such products, “there should be a limit placed… to ensure fair distribution”.
“Secondly, we are concerned that purchase of such quantities may put the pharmacist at risk in terms of upholding professional practice,” he said.
“A number of pharmacists have expressed concern that they and their staff are so busy that they are not able to undertake appropriate disinfection procedures.
“We urge pharmacy owners/managers to put up signs indicating that delays in dispensing and counter services are required to ensure appropriate disinfecting procedures are undertaken by all staff (regular disinfecting of counter surfaces, regular hand washing etc).
“We urge that pharmacy owners/managers insist on regular disinfection procedures/regular hand washing by all staff regardless of pressure from customers.
“Further, PPA urges pharmacy owners/managers ensure the Pharmacy Guild’s recently published protocols around managing at-risk customers be explained to staff and rigorously implemented.”
He said that the union was also concerned about reports of shortages of personal protective items from hospital and community pharmacy members – an issue apparent for a number of health professionals.
“Certainly, pharmacies have seen a significant increase in activity which is putting an enormous strain on all staff,” he said.
“Generally, people have been behaving appropriately towards pharmacists and PPA asks the community to be patient and courteous with our pharmacists and their staff.”
The comments follow a plea by supermarkets for the public to consider the wellbeing of supermarket staff.
Aldi, Coles, Woolworths and IGA issued a joint statement in which it asked Australians to “please be considerate in the way you shop”.
“We understand your concerns, but if you buy only what you need and stick to the product limits, it helps everyone, especially the elderly and people with disability,” the group said in a statement published on Aldi’s website.
“There are thousands of your fellow Australians who are working tirelessly across our stores every day.
“To them, we say thank you.
“We ask that you treat these dedicated people with the courtesy and respect they deserve. No-one working or shopping in any of our stores should experience abusive or aggressive behaviour.”