Tasmania gets extended emergency supply

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One small Tasmanian town’s GP had to self-isolate because of contacts: a prime example of why the state needed extended emergency supply, says the Guild

Sarah Courtney, Tasmanian Minister for Health, announced on Tuesday that the state has moved to allow the emergency supply of certain medicines by a pharmacist without prescription.

The move, like those announced this month in NSW, Victoria and WA, is aimed at helping ensure Tasmanians can get the medicines they need during the COVID-19 pandemic, she said.

“These changes will help people with ongoing medical needs who may not have access to their valid prescription or are unable to see their usual doctor due to movement restrictions,” said Ms Courtney.

“These changes do not include psychotropic substances, and are in addition to existing emergency medicines supply arrangements from a GP and pharmacist.

“The supply of medicines under these arrangements is subject to a strict set of professional guidelines. The patient must previously have been prescribed this medicine and the pharmacist must be satisfied it is urgently needed.

“These provisions bring Tasmania into line with other jurisdictions that have made similar changes in response to COVID-19, and the recent bushfires.”

John Dowling, Tasmanian branch president of the Pharmacy Guild, welcomed the move, saying it is “great to see that Tasmania has followed suit with some of the other states, in what is an eminently sensible decision given the current situation”.

He said that the Guild had recently brought to the Minister’s attention the case of Triabunna, a town on the east coast of the island state.

“Their one GP has had to self-isolate due to potential contact, so he was trying to get the local pharmacy to keep supplies of medicines going,” Mr Dowling told the AJP.

Triabunna is about a 40 minute drive from the next town with a GP, Swansea.

“This is a prime example of where a local pharmacy can provide continued dispensing while the GP is self-isolating, and enable that community to get their medicines,” Mr Dowling said.

“It’s in those situations where this will keep that community able to access medications.”

Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Tasmanian President, Dr Ella Van Tienen, also welcomed the measure.

“Patients running short of prescription medications will now be able to obtain additional supply under special arrangements, this change allows pharmacists to dispense prescription medications, subject to meeting certain conditions, the changes are in effect immediately until 30 June 2020,” said Dr Van Tienen.

Both groups also welcomed the announcement that the Federal Government is implementing changes, recommended by the PSA and Guild, to allow community pharmacists to substitute dose strengths or forms of medicines without prior approval from the prescribing doctor, if a medicine is unavailable at the time of dispensing.

These changes will allow patients to receive their medicines from their pharmacist immediately, they said.

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