COVID-19: Information for prescribers
We have amended some Special Authority rules to help prescribers treat people while New Zealand is under level 4 restrictions in the COVID-19 response.
Last updated: 27 March 2020
We are aware of the pressure that all primary healthcare professionals are experiencing right now. Kia kaha and thank you for your work.
On this page:
- Medicines with amended access (Special Authority) criteria
- Avoid stockpiling
- Pharmaceutical supply chain
- Influenza vaccine
- Personal protective equipment and medical devices
Given the current uncertainties and potential strains on the wider health sector, we are focused on ensuring minimal interruption to access to health care for people and want to ensure ongoing and practical access to treatments as needed.
- Bosentan and sildenafil (page updated 27 March 2020)
- Dornase alfa (page updated 27 March 2020)
- Hydroxychloroquine (page updated 24 March 2020)
- Insulin pump consumables (page updated 27 March 2020)
- MS treatments (page updated 25 March)
- Paracetamol (page updated 25 March 2020)
- PrEP (emtricitabine with tenofovir disoproxil) (page updated 26 March 2020)
- Pembrolizumab and nivolumab (page updated 27 March 2020)
- Sacubitril with valsartan (Entresto) (page updated 25 March 2020)
- Vigabatrin (page updated 26 March 2020)
We are also aware that, at this time, people on regular medicines may be very anxious about continuity of medicines supply, and seek to stockpile medicines, by, for example, asking for:
- a fresh 3-month prescription soon after the previous
- early dispensing of outstanding prescription repeats
- all-at-once dispensing of prescription medicines usually dispensed monthly, or
- large quantities of pharmacist-only, pharmacy-only or retail sale medicines.
We want to reassure people that PHARMAC, pharmacies and suppliers are working closely together to maintain continuous medicines supply, and to put in place measures to minimise and fairly distribute any medicines in short supply.
We all have a role to play in keeping medicines available for our community - people on regular medicines should always have enough for 1 to 2 weeks treatment.
Please encourage your patients to avoid stockpiling their medicines. Stockpiling could lead to someone else missing out.
Patient illness or self-isolation are not barriers for people getting the medicines they need; people should phone their general practice and regular pharmacy to discuss options for getting fresh prescriptions and medicines dispensed when they need them.
To manage the continuous supply of medicines it is better to maintain demand in a normal pattern. If there is inconsistent and/or abnormal stock ordering or dispensing, it will become difficult to predict how long stock will last.
PHARMAC retains the ability to restrict the volume of medicine that can be dispensed when supply is extremely tight. At this stage there is not a widespread supply issue across the entire medicine supply chain.
At this stage, paracetamol remains the only medicine that PHARMAC has had to place restrictions on volumes that can be dispensed due to supply issues.
The impact of COVID-19 is likely to have global impacts on medicine manufacture and supply chains for the remainder of 2020 and potentially beyond. PHARMAC will continue to monitor the situation carefully and we would act to remove stat dispensing on specific medicines as and when required.
In the meantime we will continue to work with our suppliers to ensure that our healthcare providers – both in the community and in hospitals – have the medicines and medical devices they will need should there be more cases of COVID-19.
We will continue to update our website with information as the situation evolves.
1.768 million doses of influenza vaccine have been secured for this flu season, a 30% (400,000 doses) increase on the number of doses available in 2019. 1.468 million doses are being provided by PHARMAC’s contracted supplier, and a further 300,000 doses have been secured from another supplier.
PHARMAC has been and will continue to engage with suppliers to see if more stock can be made available to New Zealand if needed.
Managing COVID-19 and influenza cases at the same time over winter will put a lot of pressure on our health system. One of the key things people can do to lessen that pressure is to reduce their risk of contracting influenza by getting vaccinated. They should phone their general practice or pharmacy as soon as possible to make appointments to get vaccinated.
PHARMAC does not fund PPE. PHARMAC is sourcing additional hand hygiene products used in hospitals. NZHP, working on behalf of the 20 DHBs, is taking the lead on ventilators, laboratory testing products and PPE.
Last updated: 27 March 2020