About the National Medical Stockpile

The National Medical Stockpile is a strategic reserve of supplies for national health emergencies. It includes:

  • drugs
  • vaccines
  • antidotes
  • PPE.

The stockpile also includes a limited supply of highly specialised drugs that may be difficult to get through normal channels in an emergency.

We keep the supplies in strategic locations around Australia. Details about the content of the stockpile are not released publicly for security reasons.

The National Medical Stockpile supplements the stock held by state and territory health authorities.

Why it is important

During a national health emergency, it is important to make sure front-line health services, such as hospitals, have enough medicines and equipment to provide essential services.

Goals of the National Medical Stockpile

We aim to hold and purchase enough supplies to help meet the high levels of demand during a national health emergency.

The National Medical Stockpile is a strategic reserve and is not a general supplier of product. We only provide products, such as. PPE, where commercial supply is unavailable and there is a demonstrated need or clinical advice for its use.

Meeting our goals

The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) provides advice on managing the stockpile during national health emergencies. 

How it works

The Department of Health’s Secretary and the Chief Medical Officer have the authority to release stockpile supplies on the request of state and territory governments.

We are supported in managing the Stockpile through a network of service providers and suppliers. These include warehousing and transportation partners, external auditors, technical and clinical advisors and pharmaceutical companies.

All inventory purchases include consideration of whole-of-life costs, including storage and disposals. For service providers and suppliers this involves contracting, robust management and oversight of service requirements. This maintains quality and the overall level of capacity.

This guiding principle reflects our commitment to ensuring all activities are conducted in line with the Commonwealth Procurement Rules and Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013.

Stockpile regulation is determined by Commonwealth legislation including the:

  • National Health Security Act 2007
  • National Health Security Amendment Act 2012
  • Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013.

Find out how to access the stockpile as part of the response to COVID-19.

In this video, Dr Nick Coatsworth explains what the National Medical Stockpile is, what it does, and why it is important.


National Medical Stockpile contact

Contact the National Medical Stockpile for information about accessing the Australian Government's strategic reserve of drugs, vaccines, antidotes and protective equipment for use in national health emergencies.

Stockpile.Ops [at] health.gov.au

View contact

Last updated: 
19 October 2020