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News & Trends - Pharmaceuticals

TGA response to coronavirus and medicine shortages

Health Industry Hub | March 11, 2020 |

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) reports that to date it has not received any notifications of medicine shortages in Australia that are a direct result of COVID-19. Therefore, while it may be appropriate for individuals to ensure that they have at least two weeks supply of prescription medicines in the unlikely event they are quarantined, any stockpiling of medicines is unnecessary.

Given the evolving situation, the TGA is closely monitoring international manufacturing of medicines and liaising with Australian medicine sponsors, wholesalers and pharmacists to determine any potential future impact to medicine supply to Australian consumers. The TGA is also part of an active international network of regulators who are meeting regularly to assess medicine shortages, with a focus on availability of medicines associated with COVID-19.

Within Australia, TGA coordinates the national Medicines Shortages Working Group, which comprises innovator and generic prescription and OTC medicines peak bodies, medicines supply chain organisations, medical and community and hospital pharmacy professional organisations, in addition to departmental staff. At this time, the Working Group will be meeting regularly to discuss emerging issues relating to possible shortages and their management.

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In Australia, medicines sponsors (companies) are required by law to report current and anticipated shortages of prescription medicines and certain over-the-counter medicines. The TGA publishes shortage notifications for the information of health professionals and consumers. If there are any medicine shortages relating to COVID-19, including information about expected duration and the supply of potential alternative products, details will be published on this web page and also communicated more widely to healthcare professionals. We will work closely with sponsors to manage supply and source alternatives where necessary.

As part of the Department of Health, the TGA has also been actively involved in monitoring supplies of face masks in Australia. The Government has also recently organised for release of further masks for healthcare professionals from the national medicines stockpile and supported increases in the local manufacture as well as additional importation of masks.

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