Paracetamol shortage reported in NZ

paracetamol challenge: blister pack with one tablet separate

While a shortage of paracetamol due to manufacturing issues has been reported in New Zealand, the TGA says the same effect is unlikely to occur here in Australia

New Zealand pharmacists have been advised to restrict the number of paracetamol blister packs they dispense due to a shortage.

The notification specifically relates to the Pharmacare brand of paracetamol 500 mg tablet blister packs (1000 tab), of which supplier API is currently experiencing a shortage.

“The supplier of the Pharmacare brand of paracetamol 500 mg tablet blister packs (1000 tab) has not been able to supply sufficient volumes of this product to the market. This means there is a stock shortage,” explained Pharmac, New Zealand’s drug-buying agency.

“We’re working closely with the supplier – API – to ensure that the available stock is managed in the best way to ensure patients who need paracetamol can get it.”

Pharmac director of operations Lisa Williams told Radio New Zealand the shortage was due to issues at overseas manufacturing plants.

A fire at one plant caused production problems of one of the active ingredients in paracetamol, she said.

‘‘That means all finished product manufacturers of paracetamol have been finding difficulties getting access to the active ingredient.’’

API recently advised that it still has sufficient quantity of paracetamol 500mg in bottles, which are suitable for unit dose dispensing.

‘‘To ensure continued supply of paracetamol for your customers, please consider the use of paracetamol in bottles rather than blisters wherever possible,’’ said API.

A limited quantity of the Priceline brand, in pack size of 100 tablets, is also available in New Zealand.

To assist in managing the available stock, Pharmac has put restrictions in place for the blister pack product.

Restrictions mean patients who experienced acute pain can receive up to a 100 tablets at a time — about 12 days’ worth.

Those with chronic illness can get up to 240 tablets, about a month’s supply.

This restriction only applies to paracetamol bought on prescription. It is still possible to buy the drug off the shelf at a chemist or supermarket.

A spokesperson for the TGA told the AJP that the organisation is not aware of any shortage of paracetamol in the Australian market.

They pointed out that the shortage refers to a specific prescription paracetamol product funded through Pharmac, whereas “there are many paracetamol products available in Australia”.

The spokesperson added that in New Zealand it is still possible to buy products off the shelf at pharmacies and supermarkets.

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