Loopholes in the supply chain

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Legislation passed this week to help manage medicines shortages doesn’t go far enough, say wholesalers

“Loopholes in the supply chain” will continue to put patients at risk, the National Pharmaceutical Services Association has warned.

NPSA chairman Mark Hooper welcomed the passage of the Therapeutic Goods Amendment (2018 Measures No. 1) Bill 2018, which passed the Senate earlier this week.

The legislation will help doctors and pharmacists to minimise the impact on patients in the event of medicine shortages, he said.

But Mr Hooper said more action is needed to extinguish avoidable risks posed by exclusive direct supply.

“Exclusive-direct supply from manufacturers to pharmacies creates a dangerous dependency on sole distribution for the medicines they carry, with no redundancy of supply,” he said.

“If there is a supply interruption, for whatever reason, then patients would be potentially denied access to their medication.”

He said the CSO sets high standards to protect against service disruption.

“If one CSO distributor cannot supply a drug, another is available to meet the shortfall. That system works when every PBS medicine is available to every CSO distributor. Pharmacists recognise and value this service,” Mr Hooper said.

“It is in patients’ interests for the Government to take the logical next step in managing medicine shortages and plug this regulatory loophole by ensuring all PBS listed medicines are made available to CSO distributors at equivalent prices.”

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