According to experts, the country’s persistent shortage of medicines could increase the risk of a “serious infection” as well as “cases that could lead to the patient’s death.”
More than 300 medicines are in short supply, affecting many diseases and many thousands of patients across the country.
Antibiotic shortages are the biggest concern, while limited supplies of other medicines, such as blood thinners and blood thinners, also pose a risk to many patients.
Royal Australian College of Victorian General Practitioners chairman Anita Muñoz said that while there had always been shortages of drugs, this supply problem was “much more serious”.
“There is a shortage of several drugs of the same or similar class … making it difficult to replace in some cases,” Dr. Munoz said.
“One of the really serious situations is the shortage of antibiotics, because … you can only use antibiotics that are effective against the organism that caused the infection.
“You can’t just pick any antibiotic as a replacement.
“In this case, the problem of multidrug-resistant bacteria is particularly acute.”
A widespread shortage of antibiotics has left many people at risk of serious infection.
While some medications can be replaced, this is not always an easy task and can be incredibly difficult and complex.
“For some important medications, such as those for heart disease, it can be very difficult to make a decision to change due to the complexity of patient needs, such as other medications they are taking or other health conditions they have,” said Dr. Muñoz.
“If we have an infection in which the bacteria are resistant to several variants, then if the drugs that the bacteria are susceptible to are not available… a situation arises where the infection is not treated at all.
“In some cases, this can lead to the death of the patient.”
Dr. Muñoz said that while the shortage was caused by many complex factors, supply chain issues due to the pandemic, the priority of supplies to other countries, pharmaceutical companies trying to keep up with demand and conflicts in Europe, they all played a role.
“I think we really need to think about how to ensure the safety of medicines coming into the country … and consider the benefits of being more self-sufficient in producing more medicines on our shores,” she said.
“It also really highlights the challenge we’re having with antibiotic management in this country and the need to be very smart about prescribing antibiotics.”
Dr. Muñoz encourages those who may be affected by drug shortages to discuss substitution options with their primary care physician, internist or other specialist as early as possible.
“Long before you run out of medication because it can take a while to come up with a safe replacement plan,” she said.
“It would be preferable not to make these decisions with significant time constraints.”
Originally published as Lack of medicines can lead to patient death