COVID-19 puts pressure on pharmacies but there is no need to stockpile heart medication

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The Heart Foundation is reassuring Australians that cardiac medicines are available at most pharmacies, despite an increase in demand over the past few weeks.

Earlier this month, Australia experienced unprecedented demand for certain medications in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Federal Government has since announced restrictions, limiting the purchase of some prescription and non-prescription drugs.

The Heart Foundation’s General Manager, Heart Health and Research, Bill Stavreski, said there were no major shortages of medications that are used to treat cardiovascular disease.

He also urged people with heart disease to consider using the Federal Government’s Home Medicines Delivery Service which is open to those who are isolating themselves on the advice of their doctor and for vulnerable groups, including people with heart disease.

“Several community pharmacies have reported pressure on some brands of cardiac medication as some suppliers have temporarily run low on stock, but pharmaceutical companies are continuing to manufacture these drugs,” Mr Stavreski said.

“The government’s restrictions on medications are easing the pressure.

“It is important that people with heart disease continue to take their medications unless they have specific instructions from their doctor to change something. Generally, your regular monthly supply is all you need to have at home.”

Under the current restrictions, pharmacists are required to limit customers to one month’s supply of many prescription medicines.

Cardiac medicines on the restricted list include:

  • anti-anginal medication which is used for chest pain associated with angina;
  • anti-arrhythmics, used for an irregular heartbeat;
  • anti-coagulants including warfarin, and antiplatelets such as aspirin, which are used to prevent blood clots and prevent heart attacks;
  • blood pressure medicines such as ACE inhibitors and beta blockers;
  • and diuretics which help rid the body of excess fluid, often used to treat heart failure or to lower blood pressure.

The full list is available on the Department of Health’s Therapeutic Goods Administration website.

Mr Stavreski said anyone who thinks they might be eligible for the Home Medicines Delivery Service could call their local pharmacist to discuss arrangements.

The Government established the temporary delivery service to reduce potential exposure to COVID-19. Eligible people can order their prescription medicines remotely.

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