In order to avoid a “toilet paper scenario” Pharmacists have commenced policing of medicine sales like never before. Part of our role as a Pharmacist is to ensure that the right people are obtaining the right medicines in a suitable quantity. There have always been instances where someone might require several months’ worth of medicines usually to cover overseas holidays. There are no holidays happening any time soon and as such new rules are now being enforced for medicine sales.
Pharmaceutical companies have advised the TGA that they do not anticipate shortages in medicines due to COVID-19 however if people try to stockpile there will be a problem just as there is with toilet paper.
Pharmacists are now to limit prescription medicine dispensing to one months supply.
This means that you can only get one box/bottle of each of your medicines at a time. Most medicines come in a one month supply. If you get more than one month in yours then you will get your usual supply. Trying to go to different pharmacies won’t work as we can tell when you have had your prescriptions dispensed.
Customers can now only buy one Ventolin or Asmol inahaler over the counter
(you can still get two on a prescription if that’s what your prescription states). These can only be sold to people who have been initially commenced on these by a Doctor. If you used an asthma reliever five years ago for two weeks it is not a reason to try and buy one now just in case. If too many people try and do this there will become a shortage.
Other items that people have been panic buying are paracetamol for adults and children.
Children’s paracetamol products will now be kept behind the counter with the aim of reducing people buying it just in case and saving it for those who need it.
The same rule applies here in that you can only buy one product.
Stockpiling of medicines has always been discouraged for reasons such as that the product may go out of date before you need it or the Doctor may change your medicine. These reasons apply now more than ever. If we use medicines sensibly and don’t harass the pharmacy staff to allow you to obtain more than you need for one month there will be no medication shortage.
On another note healthcare workers (along with many other workers ) are very stressed right now. We are normally very busy at work however we are currently answering more phone calls, more questions from people coming in to the pharmacy and dispensing (or chatting about why we can’t dispense) more prescriptions than usual. While this is happening we are trying to work with pharmacy sticky labels while wearing gloves as well as talking on the phone and in person with masks on. Delivery numbers are increasing and cleaning and sanitising are occurring at least every hour and as needed. Please adhere to the social distancing rules of keeping 1.5 metres away from the next person and avoid touching and handling items unnecessarily. Prescriptions no longer need to be signed. Please wash your hands well and often. We endeavour to do our best to serve you while we are worried about your health, our health and safety and that of our families.
Tomorrow I will bust some COVID-19 myths.