The TGA has issued a statement letting Australians know that they do not need to stockpile or over-order supplies of salbutamol inhalers – and that pharmacies can advertise they have them
“Despite the increased demand for asthma inhalers (puffers) due to bushfires and smoke, there continues to be adequate stock available in Australia,” it says.
The TGA says that it has been in “close contact” with the Australian sponsors of these puffers – GlaxoSmithKline Australia, Alphapharm and iNova Pharmaceuticals (Australia) – and all three reported they have sufficient stock to meet demand.
This is despite increased demand for the inhalers due to bushfires and smoke in many locations across the country.
The three suppliers are continuing to receive regular supplies and have implemented arrangements such as expedited delivery to and within Australia, it says.
“Medicine deliveries have continued as normal throughout most of Australia and salbutamol inhalers and other important medicines remain available in pharmacies,” it says.
“In a small number of areas where routine supply has been impaired due to bushfires cutting roads and transport links, emergency services are working to support availability of medicines through pharmacies and evacuation centres.
“Sponsors are also closely monitoring the situation and working with emergency agencies to support the supply of salbutamol inhalers to impacted areas.”
Because it is aware that people who have been evacuated from their homes may have lost their inhalers or scripts, the TGA has granted permission for pharmacies to implement some advertising around the medicine.
This includes advertising that people with asthma or COPD can obtain salbutamol puffers or dry powder inhalers from a particular pharmacy; and that people with asthma or COPD can obtain these puffers from pharmacies with or without a script if necessary.
“The permission also extends to salbutamol advertising activities conducted or facilitated by evacuation centres and other places dealing with displaced people,” says the TGA.
“It also permits advertising that reminds people with asthma or COPD to, in the event of an evacuation, remember to take any salbutamol medicines that they have and any scripts they have for salbutamol.”
People with asthma who are concerned about supply are encouraged to speak with their doctor or pharmacist if they are having trouble obtaining their usual medication.
They are also encouraged to refer to their asthma action plan if they have one, and to talk to their pharmacist for a puffer if they usually get their salbutamol inhaler on prescription but have lost the script.