Medication delays during COVID-19

I cannot get my regular medications

During COVID-19 pharmacies and customers have had limits imposed on the volume of orders they can place. If you have already experienced a delay in receiving your medication supplies from your pharmacy it may be because it is taking a little extra time for your pharmacy to receive medications from their wholesaler. This is to stop panic buying and the stockpiling of medications by individuals and pharmacies. Placing limits will ensure a continued supply for all.

You will be limited to 30 days supply of your medications with each dispensing. Due to the current delays, we suggest you take your prescriptions into the pharmacy one week before you need to pick up your medication and pick them up only when you need them. In rural areas delivery may take extra time due to the high demand on freight services.

How can I get my medications if I have been told to self-isolate?

Pharmacies can enrol in government subsidised delivery of your prescription items. This is limited to one delivery per month.  Deliveries can be through pharmacy staff or Australia Post. You can also request others, such as family members or friends, to pick up your medications for you. The Community Recovery Hotline—a free call on 1800 173 349—will link seniors and other vulnerable people to essential services and support .

If you need your medications to be delivered, it is sensible to get all of your monthly medications supplied at the one time.  If you need an extra delivery your pharmacy may charge you a delivery fee.

What if I can’t get my medication by the time I need the next month’s supply?

If a medication does become unavailable, your pharmacist has the discretion to contact your doctor for supply of an alternative or to change strengths and quantities to supply the correct dose.

A friend suggested I have Ventolin on hand for respiratory symptoms of COVID-19. Do I need this?

Ventolin (Salbutamol puffer) is a rescue medication for people living with lung conditions such as asthma. If you currently do not have a condition in which your lung function is compromised, seeking supply of these medications will not assist you. If you experience symptoms please contact your health provider or call 13HEALTH on phone 13 432 584. Stockpiling these medications will reduce the access of others who need this medication. We are recommending that people with lung conditions also not stockpile Ventolin to ensure continued supply.

What is happening with NDSS products as I couldn’t get my supply immediately?

NDSS subsidised products such as insulin pump supplies, continuous glucose monitoring, Freestyle libre sensors and blood glucose monitoring strips should be available if pre-ordered through your pharmacy.

Your pharmacy may not have immediate stock on hand due to the high demand placed on stock. Stock pre-ordered through the NDSS system in your pharmacy is likely to be available within two working days as usual. In rural areas it may take extra time due to the high demand on freight services.

Should I use Ibuprofen if I get a fever and symptoms?

Paracetamol is suggested for fever and pain as a result of a COVID-19 infection. Please note that paracetamol cannot be taken by all people. If you have not taken paracetamol before or are unsure if it is suitable for you please check with your health professionals before taking this medication.

Reports have suggested that Ibuprofen may not be the best option for pain and fever for COVID-19 symptoms. This recommendation is based on theory and a small observational study in China. It is not a proven fact as yet.

The dose of paracetamol must not exceed 4 grams or eight regular tablets (500mg each) a day; two tablets up to four times a day. If using extended release paracetamol (665mg), take two tablets up to three times a day. Please check that you are not receiving paracetamol from other sources such as cough and cold medications and Lemsip. If you are taking these products add that amount into your daily amount. Do not exceed 4 grams of paracetamol per day in total. The dose you use may be reduced if you have liver problems – ask your GP. Follow the dosage recommendations for children and infants recommended on the liquid/ soluble or chewable preparations for their weight/age and do not exceed four doses per day.

Paracetamol may interfere with the reading of continuous glucose monitoring. Please confirm readings out of range with additional blood glucose monitoring by fingerprick. Freestyle Libre and blood glucose monitoring may not be affected by paracetamol usage. Remember, any illness, stress, anxiety, or change in diet and exercise will impact glucose levels.


By Donna Itzstein, Pharmacist CDE

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