Limits on dispensing and sales of prescription and over-the-counter medicines

In order to ensure equitable access to medicines for all Australians, the Pharmacy Guild of Australia and the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia, in consultation with the Department of Health, are requiring community pharmacists to enforce limits on dispensing and sales of prescription and over-the-counter medicines. This measure is also supported by the National Pharmaceutical Services Association, representing pharmaceutical wholesalers.

It is critical to protect the access of medicines for Australians. Pharmacists should continue to limit the supply of specific prescription only and over-the-counter (OTC) medicines listed on the TGA website to:

  • Dispensing only one prescription at a time
  • Selling only one OTC unit at a time

In addition and subject to professional discretion, pharmacists should continue to limit dispensing and OTC sales of all other medicines to one months' supply or one unit.

Dispensing of multiple repeats is permitted only for valid Regulation 49 prescriptions, which must be used sparingly by PBS prescribers and only in exceptional circumstances in accordance with legislated criteria. If pharmacists have doubts about the appropriateness of a particular Regulation 49 prescription please discuss with the prescriber.

Two OTC medicines for which there has been particularly high demand continue to be subject to supply controls:

  • Salbutamol inhalers provided on an OTC basis continue to be subject to new controls. Pharmacists must confirm that supply is appropriate by confirmation of the patient's diagnosis or history of previous supply and label the product with patient details. Under the amended regulations, pharmacists must only supply one OTC salbutamol product per patient.
  • Subject to State and Territory S2 requirements, pharmacists are no longer required to place paracetamol paediatric formulations behind the counter. However, pharmacists should still limit supply to one unit per customer.

The Pharmacy Guild, the PSA and the National Pharmaceutical Services Association have also agreed to limits on orders from wholesalers to ensure equitable distribution of stock, including to regional and rural pharmacies. These restrictions will ease as supply resumes. The Pharmacy Guild, PSA and wholesalers participate in the Government's Working Party which is actively monitoring and managing medicine supply issues.

Supply of OTC and prescription medicine quantities that are not clinically required for an individual may be illegal under State and Territory law and contravene Pharmacy Board Professional Practice guidelines.


Page last updated on: 08 July 2020