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News & Trends - Pharmaceuticals

Medicines Australia warns against panic buying or stockpiling of drugs facing supply shortages

Health Industry Hub | June 20, 2024 |

Pharma News: Over 400 medicines are currently facing shortages nationwide, according to the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). Among these, 39 critical medicines are unavailable, with some shortages expected to continue until December 2024 or beyond.

One recent report involves Takeda Pharmaceuticals Australia notifying the TGA that its ADHD drug, Vyvanse (lisdexamfetamine dimesilate) 20 mg capsules, is now in shortage, with the 60 mg capsules expected to follow from late August 2024.

“These shortages are due to higher-than-normal demand for these strengths of Vyvanse capsules,” the company explained.

“Medicines Australia encourages caution in the interpretation and reporting of supply information that may inadvertently prompt panic buying or stockpiling and further intensify supply pressures,” Medicines Australia CEO, Liz de Somer, said.

“The TGA database includes actual and potential shortages, as well as shortages of a particular brand, where alternatives may continue to be available. This information can be misunderstood and sometimes projected shortages don’t eventuate, which is why it’s important this information is considered carefully.” 

The issue of medicine shortages was recently addressed at the Senate Estimates hearing by the Community Affairs Legislation Committee. This discussion coincided with the TGA’s consultation on medicine shortages, underscoring the critical nature of the problem.

Australia finds itself susceptible to medicine shortages due to the decline in local manufacturing and the intricate nature of global supply chains, where over 90% of medicines are imported. The country’s limited control over just 2% of the global pharmaceutical market puts it at a disadvantage during disruptions in the global supply chain, favouring larger markets.

Green’s Senator Jordon Steele-John remarked, “I am deeply concerned about the continuing shortage of Takeda’s Vyvanse in Australia. It’s a medication utilised by many people with ADHD.”

Senator Steele-John drew a poignant parallel between his use of a wheelchair due to cerebral palsy and the urgency of resolving the Vyvanse shortage, stating, “Imagine if my wheelchair was the product of a pill I took multiple times a day, and that pill was not available due to a supply chain issue in the United States. And while I couldn’t get it, I had to crawl around on the floor.”

He added “That is literally the situation that so many people with ADHD are in. This medication is their form of assistive technology, and it is urgent that we resolve this supply chain shortage.”

“Manufacturers make every effort to ensure supplies are maintained. Where potential shortages are identified, there is collaboration with the TGA, healthcare professionals and prescribers to manage supplies for essential need,” de Somer emphasised.

“Transparency is a very important principle for the industry, prescribers and others in the supply chain.  However, it is equally important this information does not cause unnecessary concerns about medicines availability for patients,” she added.

Medicine shortages are complex and often unavoidable, resulting from factors such as unexpected increases in demand, natural disasters, ingredient shortages, or disruptions to manufacturing and distribution channels. The global pharmaceutical supply chain’s complex nature means that any of these factors can create significant pressures.

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