WA extends emergency provisions

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WA has joined NSW and Victoria in implementing emergency supply provisions in response to the COVID-19 emergency

Western Australia’s Chief Health Officer Dr Andrew Robertson declared that effective from Thursday, pharmacists may dispense prescription medications, subject to certain conditions.

These include that:

  • the pharmacist is satisfied the person is in immediate need of the medication for the continuation of treatment
  • that the medication has been prescribed to the patient previously
  • that it is not practicable for the patient to obtain a repeat prescription from a GP or other authorised health practitioner.

Dr Robertson declared the temporary provisions under the Public Health Act 2016.

They will remain in place until 31 May 2020, at which time they will be reviewed and, if necessary, extended.

The arrangements cover all prescription medicines except controlled drugs. 

Dr Robertson said the new arrangements have been introduced in acknowledgement of the difficulties that patients could encounter trying to get GP appointments during the current crisis, particularly at a time when they were also being asked to remain at home.

Dr Robertson stressed that this was not an opportunity for patients to stockpile medications.

“It is designed to ensure patients health is not compromised as a result of disruptions caused by the present situation and there will be limits on the additional amount available,” he said.

Patients requiring additional supplies should endeavour to attend their regular pharmacy and take along some proof of prior use of the medication – such as a recent empty packet. They should also be able to produce valid ID and a Medicare Card.

PSA WA President, Dr Fei Sim, congratulated WA Health and Dr Robertson for this “sensible” approach which she said will reassure patients that they will be able to access medicines.

“This change allows pharmacists to dispense prescription medications, subject to meeting certain conditions,” said Dr Sim.

“The medicine must have been previously prescribed and be for the continuation of current essential treatment where it is impractical to obtain a prescription.

“In light of the developing COVID-19 pandemic, this change will enable pharmacists to best service their patients.

“Our patients are looking to us to provide them with medicines, on-going care, critical information and support.”

PSA says it will continue to work closely with WA Health to support pharmacists and the Western Australian community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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