From coalface to Canberra: SHPA welcomes medicines shortages legislation

More effective management of medicines supply to Australian hospitals is a step closer after the introduction of legislation by Health Minister Greg Hunt yesterday requiring mandatory reporting of medicines shortages by pharmaceutical companies.

Mr Hunt introduced the Therapeutic Goods Amendment (2018 Measures No.1) Bill 2018, which amends the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 and, for the first time, defines a medicine shortage in Australia; a shortage exists when the supply of a medicine, for a six month period, ‘will not, or will not be likely to, meet the demand for the medicine for all of the patients in Australia who take, or who may need to take, the medicine.’

SHPA Chief Executive Kristin Michaels says a nationwide system for managing and communicating medicines shortages through the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) will improve patient outcomes.

‘On behalf of our members, who have for some time urged the necessity of more rigorous and systemic medicines supply management, we welcome this bill which has been directly informed by collaborative advocacy from SHPA, the Australian Medical Association, the Medicines Partnership of Australia and other organisations partnering with the Department of Health.

‘Once passed into law, the new protocol has the potential to remove a burden on hospital pharmacies, increasing their time to spend on crucial face-to-face cognitive pharmacy services on the ward, and maximising their input into multidisciplinary medical teams.’

Ms Michaels says the prioritising of medicines used to treat acutely ill patients in hospitals, through the Medicines Watch List, will reduce the amount of time hospital pharmacists spend seeking alternative or replacement medicines.

‘Hospital pharmacists provide care for the more seriously ill Australians and, by prioritising the visibility of shortages of medicines that are critical to this acute care, pharmacy teams can ensure they are on the front foot managing and resolving shortages before they adversely affect patients.

‘Important evidence gathered at the coalface provided key data informing the development of this legislation – today is truly a win for SHPA members and we will watch the parliamentary proceedings with great interest.’

Download the media release

Media coverage