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Resources for HCOs & Patients

The unfolding coronavirus pandemic is placing all Australians under significant stress. This is particularly the case for those in our community living with health conditions or special health needs.  Members of our community who are vulnerable are our priority focus – and ensuring they receive the care and attention they need together with relevant medicines on a daily basis has our critical attention. This section is for Health Consumer Organisations and patients, we hope this section will provide relevant and useful information on COVID-19, help provide answers to your questions and be of value to share with your communities.

We are in this together – everyone and every part of the Australian healthcare system and community has an essential role to play. It is imperative we work closely together now in a collaborative and organised way to help us get through these challenging times.

What our members are doing to fight towards COVID-19

As a Nation, we are facing one of the biggest global health challenges of our time. At home and around the world people are facing uncertainty, anxiety and new ways of living their lives.

As an industry, we recognise the critical role we must play, both in the urgent response to this rapidly evolving health crisis, but also in the recovery of Australia. To succeed, every aspect of the Australian healthcare delivery system has an essential role to play and it is imperative, we work together now in a collaborative and supportive way.

Latest News on our fight towards COVID-19

  • A consortium of life sciences companies announced an important collaboration to accelerate the development, manufacture and delivery of vaccines, diagnostics and treatments for COVID-19 in response to the pandemic.
  • J&J makes $1B deal with US Government to manufacture COVID-19 vaccine

As an industry and member of the Australian community – our critical priorities, at the present time, must be:

  • Focusing our expertise and capabilities in the fight against COVID19 – to uncover the urgently needed measures to protect and treat the community
  • Ensuring the supply of essential medicines to patients in our community who need them.
  • Working collaboratively with Government and other organisations to actively manage and pre-empt the healthcare delivery needs as they emerge
  • Recognising and supporting Australia’s healthcare professionals working on the frontline. 

Our Responsibility

  • As a responsible industry we are continuing to support Australian healthcare workers working on the frontline.  The health of patients, the community and healthcare workers are the industry’s utmost priority and will continue to be as this crisis unfolds.
  • During this unprecedented time we will ensure patient groups and relevant organisations are kept fully updated with information to share with their communities.
  • Our collaboration with research institutions will continue to ensure they have support needed to maintain their important scientific work. This includes maintaining clinical trials, where feasible, to facilitate their completion and assessment.
  • We are leading and supporting new and innovative ways to interact efficiently with the health professional community and create new forms of healthcare delivery– including treatment within the home, remote telehealth capabilities and virtual training.
  • We continue to work with the Therapeutic Goods Administration and Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee to introduce new medicines and vaccines as they become available.

Deploying our scientific expertise and capabilities in the fight against COVID-19

  • On a local and global level the industry is working together, alongside leading research institutions and Governments, to focus research efforts and share expertise – including diagnostic testing capability, potential compounds, new therapies and data on registered medicines and vaccines.
  • As potential treatments or vaccines are discovered the industry stands ready to apply its clinical trial expertise to ensure they are safe and effective and can be developed as quickly as possible.
    • Global estimates are 80 clinical trials currently underway (IFPMA)
  • Existing medicines may now provide the treatment bridge while we uncover vaccines or the cure.  Treatments for malaria, multiple sclerosis and anti-viral medicines are now being tested in patients with COVID-19.
  • Globally and locally, our manufacturing facilities are ready to ramp-up production as new solutions emerge.

Industry update for the community

  • Australians urged to get annual flu vaccine to protect patients and take pressure off health services amid COVID-19 crisis.
  • A consortium of life sciences companies announced an important collaboration to accelerate the development, manufacture and delivery of vaccines, diagnostics and treatments for COVID-19 in response to the pandemic.

Government updates for the community

  • Federal Government announced a new $110 million International Freight Assistance Mechanism which would help secure freight flights into Australia’s key export markets, with return flights bringing back vital medical supplies, medicines and equipment.
  • Greg Hunt ensures continued access to medicines allowing patients to receive a maximum PBS quantity or pack size without a prescription where the pharmacist is satisfied there is immediate need, usually a months’ supply for most medicines. The federal government has extended the continuing dispensing arrangements for the ongoing supply of PBS-subsidised medicines without a script, to 30 June 2020.
  • List of Government Departments and Agencies that are playing a critical role including newly formed Task Forces and Units dedicated to the COVID-19 Issue.
  • The Federal Government has implemented the following measures relevant for not-for-profits, including charities :
    • The JobKeeper payment helps businesses (including charities and not-for-profits) significantly impacted by the Coronavirus cover the costs of their employees’ wages, so more Australians can retain their jobs and continue to earn an income.
    • ‘Boosting Cash Flow for Employers measure’. Read more about the cash flow support here.

We are in this together – Approaches for collaboration

There are many great examples of innovation, sharing resources and working together through this COVID-19 crisis.  We want to share them with you as a way to generate ideas for your own organisations and networks.

The National Cancer Response Group is newly convened group consisting of Cancer Council Australia, Leukaemia Foundation, Ovarian Cancer, Lung Foundation, Prostate Cancer Foundation and others that have joined forces to centralise a co-ordinated approach to managing patient enquiries and providing much needed support for patients through these uncertain times. It is a great example of bringing multiple groups together to share knowledge, resources and provide support to patients and each other.

Cancer Council Australia have a support helpline 13 11 20 for any cancer related enquiries and have created useful information on their website like the Cancer and Covid-19 resource page 

If you have a great example that you would like to share with others please contact : pkeogh@medaus.com.au

Medicines supply to the community

In these difficult times we want to reinforce the following

  • We are working in close partnership with Federal (and State) Governments and the local healthcare community to respond to the unprecedented surge in demand.
  • As an industry our companies are working around the clock to monitor and assess our supplies, locally and globally, to ensure they can get to where they are needed
  • Our manufacturing facilities around the world are open and continue to make millions of doses of medicines and vaccines every day. Strict measures are in place to ensure our teams and facilities are protected and able to maintain production.

We want to ensure everyone works together on this – including pharmacists and doctors – so we can ensure our medicines are available to everyone that needs them

Frequently asked questions

Medicine supply questions

What to do if your medicine is not available at your pharmacy?

If medicines are unavailable in pharmacy:

  • Seek support from your pharmacist to phone around other pharmacists in the area.
  • Notify the manufacturer who makes your medicine so they can also assist you. Their contact number will be on your medicine packet – or the pharmacist can help you locate it.

What else is the pharmaceutical industry doing to help with medicine supplies?

The pharmaceutical industry is working closely with Government to actively monitor and manage our medicine supplies to minimise the potential for shortages. There are a number of other measures we are working on that include:

  • increasing production and orders for Australia to meet our increasing demand
  • sourcing products from other countries
  • activating alternative manufacturing facilities
  • managing logistics and freight to bring medicines into the country

How can I get my medicines if I am unable to leave the house?

The  Australian Government recently announced a COVID-19 health package. Included in this package was the COVID-19 Home Medicines Service that will enable vulnerable people and people in self-isolation to order their PBS and RPBS prescriptions remotely and have their medicines home delivered at no cost to reduce their potential exposure to COVID-19.  Contact your local pharmacist and they will be able to advise you on this or visit: https://www.findapharmacy.com.au/home

What is the pharmaceutical industry doing to help fight COVID-19?

The pharmaceutical industry is working tirelessly in the fight against COVID19 – ensuring we can diagnose, protect and treat the community

  • Our member companies here in Australian and around the world are directing all efforts and resources on the global pandemic – developing diagnostic kits, safe and effective treatments and eventually vaccines.
  • We have our best scientists and latest technologies working to speed up the development of safe and effective vaccines.
  • We are sharing learnings from clinical trials in real time with governments and other companies to advance the development of additional therapies.

Links to credible COVID-19 information

Please find a list of links to credible and reliable websites:

Links to State and Territory Health Authorities:

Practical tips and information for patients

Here are links to practical and useful information to support patients during these challenging times:

  • List of helpful resources for maintaining your mental health during social isolation.
  • Health Consumers Queensland has created a tip sheet for health staff on how to involve consumers in their health service or facility’s COVID-19 response.
  • Australia Post and the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) have joined forces to provide pharmacy home delivery service from Monday 30/3 for patients who have COVID-19 who are self-isolating, people over 70 years of age and people with chronic health conditions.
  • SAP, a market leader in enterprise application software, are offering NFPs a free suite of information and services.
  • Need help with home delivery for groceries? Woolworths will be providing Priority Assistance home delivery to eligible customers include seniors, people with a disability and those with compromised immunity or who are required to self-isolate.
  • Free webinar COVID-19 Managing in Times of Disruption, to find out more or register, click here.
  • Government extends Telehealth MBS Item Numbers and now includes specialist, allied health and mental health consultations, more information can be found here.

Regular e-newsletters to HCOs

Here are a list of email updates about COVID-19 that have been sent out to Health Consumer Organisations by Medicines Australia:

Feedback/Comments

Please reach out with any concerns or questions you may have and we will do our best to answer them and provide support where we can – we are here to help. Please contact pkeogh@medaus.com.au

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