ACT joins NSW and Victoria in improving access to medicines for people affected by bushfires

Friday, 10 January 2020


People in the ACT affected by the bushfire crisis will now be able to access a standard PBS or manufacturers’ pack quantity of their Prescription Only Medicines (Schedule 4) without a prescription following the issuing of a temporary authority by the ACT Chief Health Officer, a move welcomed by the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA).


The emergency provision brings the ACT into line with New South Wales and Victoria following similar announcements in the past two days. Under the special authority pharmacists will be able to supply standard pack sizes, usually one month’s supply, to people affected by the bushfires where it is not practical to get a prescription.


Prior to this special authority being issued, ACT pharmacists were unable to supply more than three (3) days’ supply of a Prescription Only Medicine without a prescription in an emergency.


In welcoming the announcement, PSA ACT Branch Vice President Professor Mark Naunton said: “This is a sensible decision made by ACT Health to ensure patients maintain their access to medicines consistent with other affected states in the ACT region. The current bushfire crisis is starting to create an increased demand on Canberra’s pharmacists from patients who have been displaced from NSW and Victoria and are coming into the ACT.”


“Our community pharmacists are working incredibly hard to ensure this increased demand is managed to ensure patients are not adversely affected by this crisis, and this change helps pharmacists care for these people.”


“ACT’s pharmacists thank the ACT Health CHO for aligning so quickly to the changes made by NSW and Victoria to ensure consistency in emergency access to medicines in what can be a very confusing time for displaced people.


Controlled Drugs (Schedule 8) (e.g. opioid pain medicines), anabolic steroids, benzodiazepines and a small number of specialised medicines (‘Appendix D medicines’) cannot be supplied under this provision.


PSA National President Associate Professor Chris Freeman also welcomed the move: “The ACT is the third jurisdiction to recognise the challenges associated with accessing vital medicines in an emergency. PSA will continue to work with state and territory governments around the country to improve regulations regarding access to prescription medicines in emergency situations.”


The special provision takes effect immediately and expires on 31 March 2020. PSA will distribute guidance to Canberra pharmacists in addition to information published on the ACT Health website.


Media contact: PSA Media, 0487 922 176


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