Urgent advice for NSW pharmacists supplying medicines to patients in bushfire affected areas

A temporary special authority has been issued by the NSW Chief Health Officer until 31 March 2020 for supply of prescription medicines from a community pharmacy in emergencies in a bushfire affected area in NSW.  The usual arrangements for 3 day supply and continued dispensing remain in place in all areas of NSW.

Special authority for emergency supply without a prescription in bushfire affected areas in place until 31 March 2020.

A patient can receive a supply of Schedule 4 medication without a prescription, where the pharmacist is satisfied there is immediate need. The medicine must have been previously prescribed, be for continuation of current essential treatment and it is impracticable to obtain a prescription.

The quantity to be supplied is no more than:

  • For substances that are on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, the standard Pharmaceutical Benefits maximum quantity, or
  • For substances that are not on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, the quantity that is contained in the smallest standard pack in which substance is generally available.

The pharmacist must record: (a) name and address of the patient; (b) name, strength and quantity of the medicine; (c) directions for use of the substance as determined by the pharmacist; (d) name and address of the authorised practitioner who last prescribed that substance; (e) date of supply; (f) a unique reference number; and (g) name of the pharmacist by whom the substance was supplied.  The medicine must be labelled as for a dispensed medicine.

Schedule 4 Appendix D and Schedule 8 substances may NOT be supplied under the special authority.

A pharmacist may dispense S4D and S8 medicine using telephone or email orders in an emergency. The pharmacist can confirm the patient’s current medication details with the prescriber, or a prescriber may direct a pharmacist to supply a medicine to a patient in an emergency situation, by providing a telephone order, email or facsimile.  The prescriber must forward a paper prescription to the pharmacy as soon as practicable and within 24 hours, endorsed as such.

See https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/environment/air/Pages/community-pharmacists.aspx for more information.

P2 masks for pharmacies in bushfire affected areas

P2 Masks are expected to arrive in those pharmacies in NSW affected by bushfires in the next 2 days.

Please provide these free P2 masks to community members within bushfire affected areas.

The masks are not recommended for general community use and wherever possible, people should avoid smoke by staying indoors with the windows and doors shut and minimise vigorous exercise outdoors.

P2 masks can reduce the amount of smoke inhaled but will only do so if used properly and an optimal fit is achieved.  They may also be helpful for people returning to their properties in burned areas and for those whose only option is to work outside. 

It is important that people supplied with P2 masks are aware of how and when to use them.  As such it is requested that you please provide a copy of the fact sheet: ‘Protect yourself from bush fire smoke’ to anyone who is given a P2 mask (see link to the fact sheet as below).

Please be aware: P2 masks can make it more difficult to breath and people with pre-existing heart and lung conditions should consult their doctor before wearing one. 

The fact sheet 'Protect yourself from bushfire smoke' link via NSW Health Website: https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/environment/air/documents/protect-yourself-from-bushfire-smoke.pdf.

To manage stock and to ensure that people receive the fact sheet it is recommended that the masks are provided at the pharmacy counter with a copy of the fact sheet.   

If you have any other questions please do not hesitate to contact us at the NSW Branch on 13GUILD or 13 484 53.

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Page last updated 13 January 2020