Pharmacists relieved at reinstatement of expanded continued dispensing, but again call for it to be permanent

22 December 2023


The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) welcomes the new Continued Dispensing Emergency Measure Determination issued by the Federal Government yesterday, supporting Australians affected by natural disasters and other emergencies.

The new determination allows pharmacists to provide patients with up to one month’s supply of 755 different Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) medicines (up from 150 medicines) if they are unable to access their prescription or prescriber in an emergency situation. The determination takes immediate effect.

PSA National President Dr Fei Sim FPS welcomed the move but again urged the Federal Government to make it a permanent.

“While this decision is welcome relief for patients and pharmacists in disaster affected areas, PSA has long advocated for the permanent expansion of continued dispensing nation-wide,” Dr Sim said.

“Every time there is a disaster, the government extends or reinstates this measure. However, this always takes a few days, and leaves patients without access to their medicines when they need them most. It is time to make it permanent.

“Regulations should be in place to support the safe and effective use of medicines, not hinder it. It makes no sense these measures expire after each natural disaster passes.

“With the effects of climate change making natural disasters harsher and more frequent, we know that these threats will continue.

“Not all emergences are natural disasters. Whether it be bereavement, domestic violence, house fire or car crash, the sad reality is that people are suddenly separated from their medicine in other emergencies.

“Permanently expanding the medicines covered by continued dispensing arrangements is necessary to give Australians peace-of-mind that no matter what, they will always be able to access to the medicines they need,” Dr Sim concluded.


This measure was also recommended as part of PSA’s 2023-24 Federal Budget Submission. Find the full submission here.