New restrictions for hydroxychloroquine and salbutamol now in place
From 24 March 2020, new federal legislation is in place to limit the availability of two medicines that have seen increased demand in recent weeks due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The legislation has been implemented so that these medicines continue to be available for Australians who need them for ongoing medical conditions.
Hydroxychloroquine is the active ingredient in medicines used for the prevention and treatment of certain types of malaria, rheumatoid arthritis and other conditions. Medicines containing hydroxychloroquine are in Schedule 4, meaning they are available only with a prescription.
From 24 March 2020, treatment with hydroxychloroquine will need to be authorised first by certain specialists before ongoing prescribing by a general practitioner can occur.
Currently, hydroxychloroquine is being tested as a potential treatment for people infected with the SARS-COV-2 virus. No recommendations have yet been made regarding dose, frequency or duration. Use of this medicine for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19 outside of clinical trial research is off-label.
Salbutamol, also known by brand names such as Ventolin, Asmol and Airomir, is the active ingredient in medicines used to treat symptoms of asthma and other airway diseases. Medicines containing salbutamol are in Schedule 3 (also known as Pharmacy Only Medicine), meaning the medicine is available from a pharmacy without prescription, but requires a discussion with a health professional first.
From 24 March 2020, supply of this medicine is limited to 1 primary pack per person for people with evidence of a medically diagnosed lung condition or people who have previously been supplied this medicine from the same pharmacist.
People legally authorised to use or supply this medicine in the practice of their profession will still be able to access this medicine, and it will also still be available as a first aid medicine for institutions including schools, childcare services and workplaces.
For more information on the new changes go to the Therapeutic Goods Administration website