New program to address medicine shortages 

The Federal Government, Medicines Australia and the Generic and Biosimilar Medicines Association have signed a five year Strategic Agreement that obligates sponsors to hold either four or six months’ worth of certain medicines – called the Medicines Supply Security Guarantee.

The National Health Amendment (Enhancing the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme) Bill 2021 to formalise the Guarantee was passed by both houses in early December. The Guarantee will commence on 1 July 2023.   

The AMA has been calling for some time for the Government to create a more comprehensive strategy to address medicine shortages in Australia, including a motion passed by Federal Council in June this year. The AMA supports the development of policy and infrastructure that improves access to medicines, improves population and individual health outcomes, and reduces the disparity in health outcomes for vulnerable groups. Dr Chris Moy has been a member of the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s Medicine Shortages Working Party throughout the pandemic.   

The Guarantee is a welcome step towards mitigating the risk medicine shortages and the AMA will closely monitor the impacts of this policy to ensure they reach their intended outcomes. At the time of writing, there were 264 current shortages, 33 of which were critical. There were 52 anticipated shortages.  

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