South Australian government announces improved emergency access to medicines for people affected by bushfires

Tuesday, 14 January 2020


South Australians affected by the current bushfire crisis will now be able to access full quantities quantity of their Prescription Only Medicines (Schedule 4) without a prescription following an amendment to the Controlled Substances (Poisons) Regulations 2011, a move welcomed by the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA).


The provision brings South Australia into line with NSW, ACT and Victoria following similar announcements last week. The change in regulation gives the Health Minister the ability to declare an emergency, with pharmacists able to supply standard pack sizes, usually one month’s supply, to people affected by the emergency where it is not practical to get a prescription.


Medicines supplied under this regulation will be available at regular PBS prices following an announcement of a temporary expansion to the PBS Continued Dispensing initiative by the Commonwealth Government last Friday. The expanded PBS Continued Dispensing provision takes effect from Monday 13 January 2020 and expires on 31 March 2020.


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


Kingscote pharmacist, Patrick Tiong who supported people on Kangaroo Island after last week’s devastating fires welcomed the announcement: “Last week when we supported people who had lost their homes, the evacuees as well as tourists and volunteers, the current regulations were far less flexible and it limited our ability to help those affected people. I hope this change will help South Australians who need to continue taking their vital medicines when disaster strikes”
PSA South Australian President Robyn Johns said: “We welcome this morning’s announcement as a sensible move in ensuring people affected by bushfires can get urgent access to their regular medicines.”


Controlled Drugs cannot be supplied under this provision.


PSA National President Associate Professor Chris Freeman also welcomed the move: “PSA has been working with state and territory governments around the country to improve access to prescription medicines in emergency situations. After the current bushfire crisis subsides, we are keen to work collaboratively with all governments to permanently incorporate these more effective and affordable emergency supply provisions into our health system for future disasters.”


Media contact: PSA Media, 0487 922 176