Why is Australia facing shortages of drugs like Bactrim? The Health Minister has explained the problem on air
Health Minister Greg Hunt has taken to the airwaves to discuss a range of health issues, including the availability of flu vaccines and key drugs like Bactrim, with 5AA’s Leon Byner.
Mr Byner told the Minister that he had had a message from “the chemists, community pharmacies” about an inconsistent supply of Bactrim.
“Pharmacies did get supply in the last two weeks, but the understanding is that many ordered it to restock their dispensaries and it is again out of stock,” said Mr Byner, asking the Minister what is causing the shortages.
“So what happens of course is there’s a global supply chain. So if there’s a manufacturing problem overseas it can effect supply anywhere around the world,” said Mr Hunt, citing the recent legislative changes about timely reporting of shortages.
“That’s come into force here which is why we’ve been aware of that.”
He said that Mylan has increased its production and that it will release new volumes into Australia this week.
“And there’s a second company which we’ve worked with – MedSearch – and they’re going to import and supply an alternative antibiotic product and that should be available within the coming days,” he said.
“So because you do get a manufacturing problem, whether it’s in Australia or elsewhere, you will have these shortages.”
Mr Byner asked whether previous AMA comments about shortages being “all about money” had any validity, at which point Mr Hunt said that the advice he had been given was that the issue was a “manufacturing issue”.
“It could be materials, it could be machinery and this does happen,” said the Minister.
“And as of yesterday, the advice from the TGA – that there is currently stock available for the alternative brand of the antibiotic product which is making its way to the pharmacies. So we’re getting that distributed as quickly as we can.”
He said he had been advised that new supplies should arrive “within the incoming days” and the alternative “within a very short period of time”.