New powers for pharmacists dispensing medicine

Photo courtesy Getty Images.

NSW pharmacists now have extra powers enabling them to dispense medicines without a prescription and can now stay open 24/7, as the State fights COVID-19.

Minister for Health and Medical Research Brad Hazzard said a special authority has been granted to community pharmacists to assist people who can’t access their GP.

“This new authority comes at a crucial time for NSW, when we are looking at keeping our entire medical ecosystem free of red tape,” Mr Hazzard said.

“It gives our trusted community pharmacists the ability to dispense when people are not able to contact their GP to arrange a prescription at a time when we want everyone to stay home as much as possible.”

Pharmacies are also now able to operate 24 hours a day.  The NSW Government is also addressing the over-supply of prescription and over-the-counter medicines and recently introduced new limits to ensure equitable access.

For example, salbutamol (such as Ventolin brand) inhalers must now only be supplied (when over-the-counter by the pharmacist) as a single pack for a medically diagnosed lung condition. 

“The NSW Government recognises the role of community pharmacists as frontline health workers supporting the community,” Mr Hazzard said.

“I want to remind the community to not panic buy, not abuse staff, and be respectful of people who hold a very special place on the frontline of our fight to keep the community safe and well.”

Families can also take advantage of an initiative announced earlier this year, enabling pharmacists to administer flu vaccines to anyone over 10 years.

Advice to pharmacists is available here.