New medication limits as flu vaccines run dry
Pharmacists have been capped at dispensing certain health medications to one per customer per visit from today.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison had warned Australians to stop panic buying, but despite the warning pharmacies have been stripped bare of essential health items.
As a result, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Paul Kelly, today slapped Aussies with a limit on certain medicines, including asthma medication and Paracetamol.
"There have been reports of people buying large quantities of these medications over the last few days," he said.
"I recognise again that people are fearful about issues, particularly those that might affect their own families, but I say again, as the Prime Minister said yesterday about panic buying, please do not buy more than you need. I will repeat that - please do not buy more than you need for anything - whether that's food and particularly medicines."
He went on to explain the shortages are only being experienced in "particular pharmacies" and introduced a buying limit on some medications moving forward.
"Pharmacists will be required to limit dispensing of certain prescription products to one month's supply at the prescribed dose," he said.
"Sales of certain over-the-counter medicines - particularly Ventolin or other subutimol and Paracetemol, are now a maximum of one unit per purchase."
In addition, he also be strongly encouraged to limit dispensing of all other medicines to one month's supply or unit.
Aussie blogger Constance Hall, who is asthmatic, took to Instagram to reveal she hasn't been able to get a hold of ventolin.
"I am just at the chemist and they're f***ing completely out of ventolin, everywhere," she said.
"They had one spare that they keep and they gave it to me. Because I had all my prescriptions for my preventives, they said look we do have this one you can have, which was really kind of them but it made me realise you can't just stock up, it's not fair on other people."
Hall, who boasts a social media following of more than 1.3 million, admitted she was going to buy five ventolins after hearing pharmacies were running out, but "I thought that's really selfish".
"That's four other asthmatics that might not have one, so lesson learned."
7 News reporter Tom Chadwick, who is also an asthmatic, told of his struggles to find a puffer due to the overwhelming demand.
He said his local pharmacy told him that people are purchasing the product, "Just for the sake of it".
"I'm asthmatic," he wrote on Twitter.
"Tried to puy (sic) a puffer. Couldn't - due to the demand, local pharmacy was out.
"Stop, please. People actually who need them now, need them."
A spokesperson for the Pharmacy Guild of Australia told news.com.au certain medications were in short supply across many parts of the country due to the unprecedented demand and panic buying associated with COVID-19 fears.
"The Guild is urging people to purchase only their usual quantities of medicine and to please behave respectfully towards pharmacy staff," the spokesperson said.
It comes after medicine supplies such as asthma inhalers have been wiped clean off shelves.
"Considerations are underway urgently to ensure medicine supplies are distributed in a way that does not threaten access to medicines for people in need."
People with asthma are among those considered vulnerable to deadly COVID-19, and one in 10 Australian children suffer from asthma.
In Australia, most relievers are available from pharmacies without a prescription.
The Guild also warns that vulnerable people who cannot leave the house often, or those unable to afford to stock up, could also be left without vital medicines.
The Guild is urging the State and Federal Governments to extend the temporary expansion of emergency supply provisions that was introduced in some States and Territories during the bushfire crisis.
It is also seeking a temporary suspension of the need for signing of receipt of PBS/RPBA scripts and NDSS items to reduce the risk posed by the sharing of pens in pharmacies.