During the COVID-19 pandemic some prescription and over-the-counter medicines became difficult to buy because of increased demand (including panic buying) or interruptions to the supply.
To help make sure all Australians who need specific medicines can access them, some rules have been introduced. These rules change how pharmacists fill scripts for some prescription medicines, and also limit how much a person can buy of some over-the counter medicines.
For example salbutamol, is the active ingredient in medicines used to treat symptoms of asthma and other airway diseases. Medicines containing salbutamol (such as Ventolin, Asmol and Airomir) are Schedule 3 (S3) or Pharmacist Only Medicines. These medicines are available from a pharmacy without prescription, but the person needing the medicine must speak with a health professional before they can buy it.
From 1 October 2020, supply of salbutamol medicines became limited to 1 primary pack per person being treated for a medically diagnosed lung condition (like asthma or COPD) or who as previously been supplied this medicine from a pharmacy.
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 about medicine shortages, visit the Therapeutic Goods Administration's medicine shortage reports database.
Learn more about how the Therapeutic Goods Administration are working to keep medicines in supply for Australians who need them.