23 March, 2020

COVID-19 Medicines and Pharmacy Update March 23, 2020

1. Out of stock products

NACCHO has received reports that some ACCHOs may have been experiencing problems in accessing some essential over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medicines, including paracetamol tablets and liquid and salbutamol puffers.     In response, the Australian Government has acted through the Therapeutics Goods Administration (TGA) in consultation with the Pharmacy Guild and Pharmaceutical Society to place limits on dispensing and OTC sales at pharmacies to preserve stocks equitably for all Australians.

For more information about these measures, click the links to the media releases here:

Medicines Australia have publicly supported this policy as well saying, “there is no need for consumers to stock up with more than their usual supply of medicines”.

2. New home medicines delivery measure available now to protect people from COVID-19

The Home Medicines Service is a new measure that is now available to support pharmacies to provide home medicine deliveries to some patients, to protect people at risk of exposure to COVID-19.

Pharmacies can receive $5, up to once per month per patient, to deliver PBS prescription medicines to a patient’s home.

Patients across Australia are eligible for this delivery if the pharmacy is willing and able to participate in this measure; if the patient provides consent and has a Medicare or DVA number; and fulfils any of the following criteria:

  • identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander and are aged over 50
  • has chronic health conditions
  • immunocompromised
  • is isolating themselves at home on the advice of a medical practitioner, for confirmed COVID-19 cases
  • assessed by a government hotline or registered health professional as meeting the current national triage protocol criteria for suspected COVID-19 infection
  • aged over 70
  • have recently given birth or have a young baby to take care
  • pregnant.

Further policy criteria include:

  • Pharmacies claiming the $5 fee cannot claim extra delivery fees from the patient.
  • To be eligible, pharmacies must comply with hygiene and practice standards.
  • Patients at aged care facilities with pre-existing contracted delivery arrangements are not eligible.
  • OTC items may be provided in the same delivery if needed.

To learn more about this measure visit the following websites:

3. Using medicines before and during COVID-19 infection

NACCHO is aware of various medications being promoted in the media as possible cures or with potential to harm patients with COVID-19. We are monitoring emerging evidence for trends that may affect our patients. We suggest relying on information from reputable sources such as the Australian Government Department of Health Therapeutic Goods Administration

For example here is a quote from the TGA on 20 March 2020: “The TGA is aware of anecdotal reports circulating in the media of an association between the use of ibuprofen (a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, or NSAID) that worsens outcomes in patients with COVID-19. We have investigated this safety concern and found that there is currently no published peer-reviewed scientific evidence to support a direct link between use of ibuprofen and more severe infection with COVID-19. We will continue to monitor this issue.”

NACCHO recommends following the advice of your health professional before stopping and starting any medication.