ACT Health is advising that steps are now in place to ensure that anyone affected by the bushfires in NSW or other states, particularly those who are temporarily staying in the ACT, can access a standard quantity of prescription only (Schedule 4) medicines from their pharmacist without a prescription.
A temporary order has been issued by the ACT Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerryn Coleman to support people directly or indirectly affected by the bushfire crisis in NSW and Victoria.
The temporary order enables pharmacists to give a standard pack size of an essential medicine without a prescription where there is an immediate need and it is impracticable for them to obtain a prescription from a doctor.
The order applies to all prescription only medicines with the exception of anabolic steroids, ‘Appendix D medicines’ and benzodiazepines. Controlled (schedule 8) medicines are also not permitted under the order.
The order is in place from 9 January 2020 until 31 March 2020 unless revoked earlier.
The Australian Government has also extended its Continued Dispensing arrangements, to ensure that eligible medicines supplied by pharmacists without a prescription may be subsidised under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
These PBS arrangements have immediate effect in the ACT. This means patients who obtain a medicine from their pharmacist without a prescription under these arrangements will pay no more than the usual PBS co-payment of $6.60 for concessional patients, and $41 for general patients.
The ACT temporary order is very similar to special authorities issued by NSW Health and in Victoria recently in response to the bushfires.
The decision to put the ACT temporary order in place has been made in response to reported demand from ACT pharmacists, in order to support them provide care for patients either directly or indirectly impacted by bushfires in the surrounding region and ensure patients have continued access to their essential medicines where it is impracticable for them to see a doctor.
ACT Health has been working closely with the ACT branches of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia and Pharmacy Guild of Australia during this response to ensure the community has adequate access to essential treatments during this period.
Our Q & A will help to guide you during this distressing period.