Improved Information on Medicine Shortages

Assistant Minister for Health Fiona Nash launched the Medicine Shortages Information Initiative on 26 May 2014.

Page last updated: 26 May 2014

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26 May 2014

Assistant Minister for Health Fiona Nash will today launch the Medicine Shortages Information Initiative. This important Initiative will provide doctors, pharmacists and consumers with essential, up-to-date information about shortages of prescription medicines.

Minister Nash said the new website would provide health professionals and consumers with information on current, anticipated and resolved medicine shortages, as well as discontinued medicines.

“Information on medicine shortages will greatly assist health professionals to provide continuity of care,” Minister Nash said.

“Medicines Shortages, whether they affect thousands, hundreds or a small number of consumers, can be very difficult for the individuals involved”.

“Changing medication, as a result of a medicines shortage, can have significant implications even if there is an alternative.”

The Initiative was developed through a partnership between Medicines Australia, the Generic Medicines Industry Association and the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

It consists of three main components: a Protocol for communication and management of shortages agreed between Australian prescription medicines industry and the TGA; the Medicines Shortages Information website; and the subscription alert service.

The Protocol describes the respective roles of companies and the TGA in the communication and management of medicine shortages and sets out the arrangements for the new Medicine Shortages Information website.

The easy to search website features many different ways of finding information such as the status and duration of medicine shortages. Where possible, links will direct health professionals to information about substitute medicines or therapeutic alternatives.

Users who subscribe to the alert service can elect to receive email or RSS feed notification of new and updated information on medicine shortages.

“This initiative is another excellent example of how industry and Government can and do work together for the benefit of health consumers,” Minister Nash said.

“Medicine shortages can arise for a number of reasons, ranging from a lack of raw materials to a change in clinical practice leading to great demand for that medicine.

“In the past, medicine shortages have arisen in medicines for cancer, anaesthetics used in surgery, medicines used in emergencies and electrolytes provided to patients on intravenous drip,” she said.

“This Initiative will help healthcare professionals and consumers to safely and effectively manage medicines shortages. The Australian Government congratulates all the organisations involved in this project”.

Information about the Medicine Shortages Information Initiative is available on the Therapeutic Goods Administration website.

Minister's media contact: Carolyn Martin 02 6277 7440, 0417 966 328.

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