Hundreds of vital medicines are now in short supply – as Dr Nick Coatsworth demand an overhaul of Australia’s pharmaceutical industry
- Australian medicines running dangerously low
- Dr Nick Coatsworth calls for drug industry overhaul
Australians have been warned that stocks of 398 medications, including ‘essential’ drugs, are running dangerously low.
Dr Nick Coatsworth, Australia’s former deputy chief medical officer, says Australia’s supply of essential medications is balanced ‘on a knife’s edge’ in the wake of Covid and that the nation’s pharmaceutical industry needs to be overhauled.
Worryingly, 45 treatments in the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s ever-growing list of medicines in shortage are now regarded as ‘critical’, including some that are needed to save lives.
Warfarin, which is used to lower the risk of a life-threatening stroke from blood clotting, is one of the critical shortages.
So are several antibiotics including Amoxicillin syrup, used by thousands of parents to treat sick children and one of the world’s most important drugs, Penicillin V, which is on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines.
Dr Nick Coatsworth, Australia’s former deputy chief medical officer, says Australia’s supply of essential medications is balanced ‘on a knife’s edge’
Australians have been warned stocks of 398 medications, including ‘essential’ drugs, are running low
‘What we learned from the Covid-19 pandemic is we are balanced on a knife edge in terms of medication supply,’ Dr Coatsworth told Weekend Today.
‘We don’t have the manufacturing capacity in Australia and that needs to change.
‘There’s some good news on the front of mRNA vaccines and other vaccines which will be produced onshore but we’re talking about basic medicines.’
Making the shortage even worse is that those living in regional areas will be disproportionately effected.
‘From my own perspective as an infectious disease physician, often you see antibiotics on short supply including Amoxicillin syrup which is used by so many parents,’ Dr Coatsworth explained.
‘Sertraline was short last year, that’s a very common antidepressant drug and one that’s particularly worrying is Warfarin which is a very commonly used anticoagulant for people who want to prevent themselves from having a stroke.’
He is calling on the Federal government and pharmaceutical industry to pull together and find a solution.
It comes as Author Jamila Rizvi, who takes an undisclosed medicine that she relies on ‘to be alive’ tweeted that she was unable to fill a prescription for an essential medication despite visiting three different chemists in one day in Canberra.
Author Jamila Rizvi is one of thousands of Australians who is struggling to find the life-saving medicine she needs at her chemist
Ms Rizvi said that when her medications begin to run out it feels as though she’s playing ‘Russian roulette’.
‘It definitely takes a toll emotionally, there’s a real game of going to pharmacist after pharmacist, and hoping that someone’s going to have it in stock or making a whole bunch of phone calls.
‘I’ve had a good handful of medicines that have been out of stock for a period, luckily none of the ones that keep me alive.
‘But it’s been really stressful, you put it out of your head for a bit then you remember you’ve got 10 days left of 12 days left of a medicine and it does feel like you’re playing Russian roulette.’