What’s causing all these medicine shortages?

One week, it’s extended-release metformin, the next, it’s Bexsero, Zocor or Cavstat. Drug shortages are becoming so common in Australia that the TGA has a special website to keep tabs on them.

In August, 160 drugs were listed on the site, with warnings of 11 more to come.

It’s not as bad as in the US, where hospital doctors sometimes triage critically ill patients according to the whims of the supply chain. But it’s bad enough to worry the Pharmacy Guild of Australia.

The guild suggests the problem is getting worse, with its members reporting an increasing number of longer-term shortages and continuing supply delays. This is sometimes complicated by a lack of PBS-listed alternatives.

The Royal College of Australian General Practitioners is also concerned.

“The fact that the TGA website even exists indicates there is a

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