No national shortage, but fears persist


diabetes

Pharmacists need to be aware that insulin users will be very concerned about potential or actual shortages, say stakeholders

The Pharmacy Guild and diabetes organisations are urging people with the condition to continue their usual insulin purchasing practices and not stockpile or refill prescriptions more frequently.

The Guild, with Diabetes Australia, JDRF Australia, the Australian Diabetes Society, the Australian Diabetes Educators Association and the Australasian Paediatric Endocrine Group have moved to reassure people with diabetes over the availability of insulin.

National President of the Pharmacy Guild George Tambassis said there was no national shortage of insulin, diabetes medicines or products.

“This has been confirmed by the Department of Health but what we are seeing in the current COVID-19 crisis is very high demand for medicines and products and some people have ordered more than they would normally need,” he said.

“This has resulted in some short-term local out-of-stock situations in some pharmacies.

“As a result, some pharmacies are now limiting medications, including insulin, to a one-month supply to ensure all patients can access the medications they need.

“In addition, in some cases when a person presents their script, if there is a stock issue, the pharmacist may only supply part of their order until the pharmacy’s stocks come in, after which the person will get the balance.

“It is important to note that the patient does get the full supply, but it may not be all at once.”

Diabetes Australia CEO Professor Greg Johnson said the current situation may be causing some confusion among people concerned that they will not receive the full amount of their prescription

“We are working with the Pharmacy Guild to ensure that community pharmacies are aware that people with diabetes using insulin will be very concerned at any perceived or actual shortage and need to receive their full insulin prescription regardless of whether this lasts them one month or more,” Professor Johnson said.

“One month’s supply of insulin will be a different amount for each person.

“Most insulin prescriptions do not indicate a daily dose as dosages can vary from day to day, and week to week.

“The full amount of one prescription will comfortably meet nearly all people’s monthly insulin needs. However, there will be some people with diabetes who use larger quantities of insulin and therefore may need to fill their prescriptions again within the month.”

He said ensuring the ongoing availability of insulin for people with diabetes was critical.

“It is important that people with diabetes using insulin can continue to receive insulin and that they are not inadvertently accused of stockpiling,” Prof Johnson said.

“People with diabetes are encouraged not to stockpile insulin or other diabetes products and medicines, as this will help ensure that all people who need insulin will be able to get it.

He encouraged people with diabetes to always ask their pharmacist if they have any concerns about their medications.

The comments follow advice from Novo Nordisk at the end of March that there were “no current supply constraints” on its insulin products.

In a statement to customers, Novo wrote that it strongly advised them to follow the guidance of the Department of Health, limiting insulin supply to one month’s supply at the prescribed dose.

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