Medicine shortages in Australia: causes, impact and management strategies in the community setting
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Background Medicine shortages are an ongoing global problem. The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) dedicated a website for monitoring of medicine shortages in Australia in May 2014, as part of the Medicine Shortage Information Initiative. This study aimed to explore the views of pharmacists regarding medicine shortages in the community setting and the impact of the TGA website in Australia. Setting Community pharmacies in New South Wales, Australia. Method Twenty semi-structured interviews were conducted with community pharmacists. Data collected were analysed thematically utilising the framework analysis method. Main outcome measure Qualitative analysis conducted using the framework approach. Results Findings clearly indicated that medicine shortages were experienced on a regular basis, but most participants were unaware of the TGA website. Medicine shortages reportedly impacted both pharmacists and consumers; and various workarounds were undertaken to manage the issue. The “price disclosure policy” was found to be a prominent contributing factor in emerging shortages. Suggestions were made for ways to improve the growing occurrence of shortages. Conclusion Overall, the study found that there was a lack of familiarity with the TGA website, despite experiencing regular shortages of medicines in practice. Also highlighted, was the importance of pharmacists prioritising patient care over business decisions. To reduce prescribing of out-of-stock medicines notifying doctors about shortages was also considered important, to allow for early action to be taken at higher levels of the supply chain. Findings of this study may help direct future policy-making around the world, as medicine shortages is a problem shared by healthcare providers in most countries around the world.
KeywordsAustralia Community pharmacy Health care professional perspective Medicine shortages Patient impact TGA website
Conflicts of interest
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