New medicines shortages law a big win for members and public

A nationwide system for managing medicines supply will come into effect on 1 January 2019 after legislation requiring mandatory reporting of medicines shortages by pharmaceutical companies passed the Australian Senate last night.

SHPA Chief Executive Kristin Michaels says once in law, the Therapeutic Goods Amendment (2018 Measures No. 1) Bill 2018, introduced by Health Minister Greg Hunt, will improve patient outcomes by providing a nationwide system for managing and communicating medicines shortages through the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).

‘Introduction of the new protocol is a big win for our members and will make a huge impact on the effectiveness of hospital pharmacists in Australia, liberating their time to spend on crucial face-to-face cognitive pharmacy services on the ward, maximising their input into multidisciplinary medical teams.’

As the membership and advocacy organisation for pharmacists working in hospitals, SHPA provides expert advice to federal and state governments regarding medicines and high-quality patient care.

‘Most recently SHPA has worked in partnership with key healthcare stakeholders to advise the Federal Government on the development of Special Pricing Arrangements and the introduction of this legislation addressing medicine shortages,’ says Ms Michaels.

Hospital pharmacies and their staff not only provide care for the most seriously ill Australians but are an important component of the government's investment in medicines as 22% of Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme expenditure occurs in Australia's public and private hospital system, despite being outside the scope of previous Community Pharmacy Agreements.

‘Through important evidence gathered from our members we have been able to inform the development and debate around this legislation and eagerly await the positive affects this will have on patients and hospitals alike.’

Under the new law, a critical medicine is deemed to be in shortage if there is not enough, or likely will not be enough, for all patients in Australia who take it or may need to take it, at any time in the next six months.

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