COVID-19: Pharmacies urge people not to stockpile as prescription drugs run out

COVID-19 has hit medical supply chains hard in New Zealand and overseas. Since early March, illness among New Zealand staff at medical warehouses and freight providers has aggravated the situation.

A diabetes drug that was supposed to arrive in New Zealand three months ago has just arrived.

“It has become a real problem in recent weeks in terms of drug shortages, drug changes, confusion with patients about what drugs they are taking, and it has caused a lot of extra work for GPs and doctors. pharmacists,” he added. Dr Bryan Betty, Medical Director of the Royal NZ College of GPs, says.

Pharmac says it’s doing its best.

“New Zealand has actually held up very well thanks to existing contracts between Pharmac and its suppliers to hold three months of stock in-country at all times,” said Lisa Williams, operations manager at Pharmac.

“We really appreciate that people have been affected, what we’re asking is not to stockpile medicine at home – we need to make sure there’s enough for everyone. You may need to be waiting.”

Dr Betty says shortages of some drugs mean GPs have to prescribe alternatives, which is making some patients nervous.

“It’s extra stress for the patients,” says Dr. Betty.

And pharmacists see this first hand too.

“There are safe alternatives to most medications, but if someone is normally prescribed 50mg, we might have to go down to 12.5mg and tell them to take four pills a day, and that’s where let the confusion begin for people,” says pharmacist Burgess.

Pharmac insists local supply chain issues will improve by next month as staff return from isolation.

But expect to see further long delays for some specialized baby formulas, nutritional supplements and prescription drugs due overseas.

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