Regulatory agility needed: Michaels

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Hospital pharmacists have called on all states to follow the lead of those who extended emergency supply provisions

The Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia has welcomed the leadership of NSW, Victoria and Western Australia in enabling supply of up to a months’ worth of prescribed or charted medicines without a prescription.

The changes were flagged last week in a series of announcements as an emergency measure to support safe and efficient care of Australians ahead of COVID-19 related pressure on Australia’s hospitals and health system.

Several states announced extensions of measurements first put in place during last summer’s widespread bushfires, permitting emergency supply of Schedule 4 medicines (unless in Appendix D of the Poisons Standard) without prescription for eligible patients.

SHPA Chief Executive Kristin Michaels welcomed the new announcements, which she said align with SHPA’s advocacy supporting hospital safety and efficiency ahead of expected increases in COVID-19 admissions.

“As Australia prepares for what is expected to be a period of unprecedented demand on our hospitals, it is fantastic to see NSW, Victoria and WA leading the way by allowing patients to receive ongoing supply of S4 medication to continue essential treatment without a new prescription, where pharmacists are satisfied there is immediate need,” Ms Michaels said.

“We call on other states and territories to follow the lead, and for these medicines to be eligible for Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme subsidy when supplied in the hospital setting, to expedite safe treatment such that patients do not miss out on key medicines, and to aid the efficient flow of patients through the hospital system during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.”

Ms Michaels said regulatory agility is needed to help ensure Australia’s hospital system is as effective and efficient as possible.

“Emergency measures such as these help support treatment for patients who do not have COVID-19, relieving pressure on prescribers and freeing up physicians and specialists to focus on the expected steep increase in COVID-19 admissions,” she said.

“Ultimately, we all need to play our part to help ensure every Australian who needs a hospital bed has access to one.”

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