PANIC buying of medicines is unnecessary and may result in shortages, pharmacists have warned.
The national president of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, George Tambassis, said pharmacists had professional and legal responsibilities to ensure appropriate and safe supply of prescription medicines, and dispensing multiple repeats without good reason was inadvisable and outside the guidelines published by the Pharmacy Board of Australia.
"The Pharmacy Guild is not aware of any medicine which is currently unavailable or in short supply in Australia specifically because of COVID-19," Mr Tambassis said.
"Medication shortages and out of stocks have been part of the pharmacy landscape for the last couple of years threatening continuity of supply for patients and requiring numerous brand substitution changes for some patients, but these issues pre-dated and are entirely unrelated to coronavirus.
"Paradoxically, if panic buying does take hold for medicines and other products, shortages may well arise - and we certainly hope this can be avoided," he said.
Mr Tambassis was responding to numerous anecdotal reports of consumers trying to "stock-up" on prescription medicines because of fears the onset of COVID-19 might lead to medicine shortages in Australia. Wholesalers have also reported higher than usual demand for prescription and over-the-counter medicines.
In some jurisdictions, it is a legal requirement to check with the prescribing doctor before issuing multiple repeat supplies of medicine at the same time.