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Who’s got the drugs? Why you can’t find Covid medicine



The lifesaving Covid antiviral medication is still not readily available at South Australian chemists, with most people having to wait at least 24 hours to get the pills, pharmacy leaders say.South Australian Pharmacy Guild president Nick Panayiaris said that while some pharmacies were able to order in the antivirals, it was better to call ahead to avoid disappointment.“Most pharmacies now are stocking one or two of these antivirals and depending on demand they will be stocking even more,” Mr Panayiaris said.The Advertiser contacted 15 pharmacies around the state and only six had antivirals readily available on the shelf. The rest, except for one CBD pharmacy, did not have them in stock but could order them in upon prescription. A pharmacy in Stirling said that they kept two of each antiviral medications on hand to meet any demand, and order them in as soon as they sell out.“Initially pharmacists were waiting, like they do with any other medication, to see whether they (antivirals) were going to be prescription driven demands for a medication before they automatically stock any larger quantities,” Mr Panayiaris said.“The Guild have sent repeated messages to encourage pharmacies to stock at least one pack of each,”“Because it is so restrictive in terms of who can access these medicines, stock is very unpredictable. It’s not like a normal blood-pressure drug or cholesterol type drug where there is a high use and high frequency of it,”Oral treatments Paxlovid and Lagevrio, which reduce the risk of serious Covid symptoms, have been provisionally approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration and can be prescribed to patients.However, they are currently only available to people at “higher risk of severe disease”, which is judged based on risk factors such as older age or obesity, as well as active cancer and chronic kidney, liver and lung disease.Mr Panayiaris also said that increased access to the antiviral medication is always something that the Pharmacy Guild support.“If patients do get a prescription for one of these medicines, it’s quite often a good idea to ring ahead and contact your local pharmacy for stock levels to save themselves some time.”

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